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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Senate panel hears Loíza Street residents’ concerns over safety, displacement


Loíza Street re Sen. José A. Vargas Vidot and Loiza Street Resident Raquel Díaz Rosario

By The Star Staff


The Senate Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction Committee, chaired by Sen. José A. Vargas Vidot, heard complaints Thursday from residents of the Loíza Street area of San Juan related to safety, housing and displacement of residents.


Over the past few years, there has been an economic boom in Loíza Street with the opening of new businesses, but that has been accompanied by the gentrification of the area.


“This hearing must become an inventory of strategies, specifically, given the insensitivity of the authorities that are consistently absent or when they are present, they take the community very little [into account],” Vargas Vidot said.


The hearing was held in accordance with Senate Resolution 77, which proposes to investigate the various problems and threats that affect the sustainability and development of communities. While the Senate committee cited the Municipal Police of San Juan, the Permits Management Office of the Municipality of San Juan, the Municipality of San Juan, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and Discover Puerto Rico to appear, no representatives of any of those entities showed up at the hearing.


Meanwhile, Tania Moscoso from the Machuchal Revive Residents Association; Raquel T. Díaz Rosario, a resident of Loíza street; Pedro M. Cardona Roig, a planner and urban architect; and Amaury Rivera, a Condado community leader occupied the seats of the hearing rooms.


Rivera said “I know first-hand the challenges faced by the Machuchal and Calle Loíza community. … I have witnessed the neglect, incompetence, and mistreatment they have received over the years.”


“I know of meetings scheduled with the municipality [of San Juan] that were canceled the same day because the representative forgot about the meeting, leaving the participants awaiting follow-up,” he said.


During her deposition, Moscoso expressed various ideas for addressing the issue, such as “that this Legislative Assembly establish mechanisms to recognize that communities are at risk; that they draft legislation so that we can be declared vulnerable communities and approve providing forms of self-defense and protection.”


“In addition, we need to repeal a 2018 law that declared us a gastronomic and cultural district,” she said. “We understand that in this way we can face the massive displacement plan, which, as we know, has a name.”


In his turn, Cardona Roig, the urban planner, noted that “in this context, we have a toxic commercial density.”

“When the reasonable limits of commercial activity are

exceeded, it begins to cause some impacts on third parties that compromise privacy, stability, security, and other aspects …” he said. “At the core of this is a huge problem that is not being attended to, which are short-term rentals. Short-term accommodations are commercial activities, but since they are disguised under the cloak of residential activities, they are not measured correctly. That means that the community’s conflicts cannot be analyzed.”


Another of the deponents, Raquel Díaz Rosario, a Loíza Street resident, stated that “it is crucial to urgently address the problem of displacement and the deterioration of the quality of life that affects our community.”


“In this sense, it is imperative to establish a moratorium on the granting of permits for entertainment businesses and the conversion of properties for short-term rental,” she said. “This measure will make it possible to face the crisis that the community of Loíza Street is experiencing.”

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