Clint Peralta wants to build a restaurant. But construction is six months behind schedule because instead of focusing on food, Peralta finds himself in the middle of a political battle over the revitalization of downtown, specifically on the western edge of Skid Row.
"What I'm trying to do is build the relationships so we can weather this storm," said Peralta. "And that includes the people who are against us."
In order to turn a profit, Peralta says he'll need to sell beer and wine. But he's renting a space in a building that also provides federally subsidized housing for people who were living on the streets of Skid Row.
"The community actually requested that we have a restaurant here," said Gigi Szabo, deputy executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust, the non-profit group that owns the new Genesis apartment building. The trust fully supports Peralta's plan to sell beer and wine.
"We do not feel that this restaurant is going to have any negative impact on our residents," said Szabo.
But some people are very much against the idea, and have promised to sue the city in order to block the permit. Opponents say it doesn't make sense to sell beer and wine out of a building where some residents are in recovery.
Supporters of the project point out that there are already several restaurants and markets in the area that sell alcohol. So approving this particular permit really wouldn't make a difference.
"They have liquor licenses on both sides," said Peralta. "Literally the buildings that touch this building have liquor licenses."
The city will rule on the alcohol permit application on January 6. If it's not approved, Peralta says he'll have little choice but to find a different, less controversial location.