Protesters Swarm LA Urban Garden as Workers Bulldoze It for Development

Workers began bulldozing a 14-acre urban garden Wednesday as several evicted growers protested the move.

One protester chained himself to a bulldozer, and firefighters were called to cut him loose. Another was arrested for lying in front of the bulldozer, said Dan Stormer, a lawyer for the farmers.

"What was once a beautiful set of gardens, if this goes through, will now be a pile of rubble," Stormer said.

For years, neighborhood residents grew vegetables and flowers on the site rent free. But they were evicted three weeks ago after property owner Ralph Horowitz told them he planned to build a warehouse on the land.

The growers tried to fight the development plan but were unable to negotiate a deal. Horowitz offered to sell 10 acres of the land for $16.3 million to a trust set up on behalf of the farmers but the group was unable to raise the money.

A lawsuit over the property is still pending in which the growers' supporters challenge the city's sale of the land to Horowitz, arguing it was undervalued.

Horowitz originally owned the property, but the city seized it through eminent domain in the 1980s. When the city's plans for the land fell through, it passed control to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which arranged for the garden plots. Horowitz eventually sued over the property, and the city settled in 2003 by selling it back to him for $5 million, just over the $4.8 million it paid when it took the land away.

A judge agreed in May to evict the people still using the property for community gardens. Since then, dozens of protesters have been arrested. The effort attracted the support of activists and celebrities including Daryl Hannah, Willie Nelson, Danny Glover, Joan Baez and tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill.