Following a story reported in last week’s Los Angeles Sentinel regarding Hawkins House of Burgers and Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation has decided to pause the sale of the state-owned parcel of land in the hopes of resolving the land dispute with one of the City of Watts most iconic Black-owned businesses.
In a statement sent to The Sentinel on Friday, July 2, from Mr. Michael Comeaux – Public Information officer for Caltrans – District 7, “Caltrans has leased land to the Hawkins House of Burgers for its parking lot since 2016 and has been working with the owner to resolve an encroachment issue caused when the restaurant extended its patio onto Caltrans’ property. Caltrans is pausing plans to sell the leased property through public auction, so we can work with Ms. Hawkins on a resolution to help prevent any disruption to her business.”
The dispute, which is over 530 square feet of land that Caltrans says impedes onto Caltrans property, has threatened to disrupt the 80-year-old business. But Assemblyman Mike Gipson and other local officials, including Supervisor Holly Mitchell and State Senator Steve Braford, have all joined forces to help prevent any disruption of the business.
To date, no resolution has been worked out but many community residents are encouraging both Governor Newsom and Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin to step in and find a resolution that would allow Hawkins House of Burgers to remain fully in tact with no disruption or modifications to its existing business operations.
“The State of California has pledged millions of dollars to help serve and support local Black businesses that have been disrupted because of the pandemic. I cannot think of a better use of some of these funds than to allocate a portion of these funds to Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers) to purchase the land and continue serving the community that she loves and loves her in return,” stated Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. – Board Chairman, Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade and executive publisher of The Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper.