There are seven equestrian areas in Los Angeles County where residents can keep horses without adhering to minimum lot requirements.
But life with horses is not always easy in these communities, many of which consist of Mexican families, According to the Los Angeles Times.
In Pellissier Village in the San Gabriel Valley, longtime resident Agustin Luna received a violation notice from the county Regional Planning Department saying he faces more than $4,000 in fines for illegally building a stable and potential criminal charges .
“They wanted me to buy a $15,000 stable,” Luna told the outlet. “I could build one for $3,000.”
Luna and his neighbors believe that increased code enforcement may be motivated by a desire to rezon the area for more development.
Horse owners in other equestrian communities such as South El Monte and Jurupa Valley have expressed similar concerns. They feel their way of life is being ignored by politicians focused on economic interests and urban development.
“We’re being swallowed by sidewalks and warehouses,” Uriel De La Torre, a paralegal who has lived in the Jurupa Valley for 15 years, told The New York Times. “Politicians don’t care about the way we live. They care about the almighty dollar.”
In response, residents organized rallies, town hall meetings and protests to air their concerns and demand answers from county officials.
Avocado Heights Vaquer@s is an environmental justice organization that has been at the forefront of organizing efforts that they believe are classist and racist in targeting the equestrian community.
Residents voiced their fear and frustration during a town hall meeting attended by representatives from across the county. As a result, Avocado Heights has announced a 120-day moratorium on compliance inspections to allow for a review of policies and procedures.
While zoning changes and suburbanization of the equestrian community were not immediately planned, residents – wary of potential future development – felt their way of life was threatened.
“We could live anywhere, but we want to live here,” Pellissier Village resident Samuel Barragán told The New York Times. “We don’t want to fight. We just want to be alone.”
— Ted Glazer