West Adams Normandie

West Adams Oil Blues

West Adams Oil Blues

Allenco Energy Co. drill site in West Adams' University Park neighborhod 


Leslie Evans, in consultation with Michael Salman

My neighborhood is the West Adams section of Los Angeles, just south and west of Downtown. Its miles of historic, century-old Craftsman homes, interspersed with sixties-vintage apartments, house a mixture of recent Latino immigrants, older African Americans, and a minority of whites and Asians. We've been in the newspapers a lot recently in disputes with two oil companies over three of their urban drill sites. At one of them, run by the Allenco Energy company, children have been getting sick. Nosebleeds, respiratory problems, headaches, and nausea have been chronic, leading finally to protest meetings, one attended by some two hundred residents, intervention by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the County Health Department, and a lawsuit by the Los Angeles City Attorney.

At the other two sites, owned by Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas, concerns began over ill-kept property, or fears that plans for new drilling would generate noise and pollution. As news reports of the health problems at Allenco spread, neighbors near the Freeport sites heard about a gas leak at one of the well sites and a few accounts of people who may have been sickened by fumes in the past. One public meeting drew more than 300 residents. City officials responded by temporarily closing the Allenco site entirely, while at the Freeport sites routine pumping continues but scheduled new drilling has been put on hold.


Maggi Fajnor, January 6, 1944 - June 5, 2013

We are deeply grieved to learn that our long-time friend and neighborhood activist Maggi Fajnor has died. Maggi was a founding member in 2003 of our local neighborhood council, the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council, where she served for several years. For a long time she sent out weekly emails to a large list of community members about all kinds of issues that affected our neighborhood, from zoning and planning to crime and gang problems. She was a founder of PlanCheckNC (http://www.plancheckncla.com ), an ongoing alliance of neighborhood councils focused on land use matters. Warm hearted and always involved in the life of her community, she will be sorely missed. We offer our condolences to her husband Craig Fajnor. Below is the obituary that appeared in the June 16 Los Angeles Times.

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Maggi Fajnor, a devoted advocate for the North University Park and West Adams communities, and a founder of the community stakeholder participation organization PlanCheckNC, lost her courageous battle with cancer on June 5, 2013. Born the oldest of five children, Maggi grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In the late 1960's, she moved to Los Angeles with her first husband, where she subsequently earned her Bachelor's degree from UCLA, and Master's degree in urban planning from USC, all while raising their young daughter, Rebecca. For many years, Maggi worked for various planning firms on several high profile projects, including the inception of Los Angeles' first Metro Rail line, Staples Center and Hollywood & Highland.

After retiring from professional urban planning, Maggi devoted herself to empowering neighborhoods Citywide to engage with City government through community-based planning. She was an early and active participant in the grassroots Empowerment Congress established by then-Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas and was an original elected member of her local Neighborhood Council. She founded PlanCheckNC to help educate and empower neighborhood stakeholders and promote participation in neighborhood planning and land use issues throughout the City. She was named the 2006 Pioneer Woman awardee for Council District 8 by Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and was a long-time member of the North University Park Design Review Board. Maggi is survived by her husband Craig, daughter Rebecca (Hugues) Marchand; sister Mimi Duffy; brothers Harold (Linda) Hofsommer, Ken (Mary Carla) Hofsommer, and Bill Hofsommer; in-laws John and Carolyn Fajnor; sister-in-law Lisa Fajnor, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. A family service was held on June 8th at the historic Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery. A celebration of Maggi's life will take place at a later date. Donations may be made in Maggi's memory to the American Brain Tumor Association at http://www.abta.org/.

Raising Food in Your Front Yard

Our neighbors David Valentine and Jacqueline Hamilton decided to get rid of their thirsty front lawn. They invited in L.A. Green Grounds, a group of volunteers that specialize in converting front yards in South Los Angeles to edible space. Some thirty volunteers turned out on Saturday, May 5, 2013. They had the City deliver a mountain of mulch. They dug up the whole of the front lawn and the parking strip, then planted a wide variety of herbs (thyme, sage, etc.) and vegetables (eggplant, cauliflower). It was an all-day job. Our photos in the slide show below show the yard before, the volunteers working. Break time, with host Jacqueline Hamilton at left serving refreshments, and some shots of the new front-yard mini-farm.


Fears that Owner of the Elegant Manor Is Stealthily Seeking Its Demolition

The Elegant Manor, 3115 W. Adams Blvd., the stately 1903 Italian Gothic mansion that has sat empty for almost a decade at the corner of Adams and Arlington, appears to be threatened with destruction by calculated neglect. Built by successful piano store owner James Taber Fitzgerald it served successively by a former opera singer, a group of women circus performers, and, from 1977, when it was bought by Arlillian Moody, as a important venue in the black community for weddings and other festive occasions. It was designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #258 in 1982. Mrs. Moody died in 2001 and the house passed to her son Ronald Carroll. It quickly fell into decline. Mr. Carroll began to rent the house to gang members, leading in January 2004 to a double murder in the front yard during a party by members of the Black P Stone gang. That led in April 2004 to a Zoning Administrator revoking Mr. Carroll's permit to hold public events. According to city records, the house was solid in February 2008 for $1.7 million. It has remained vacant for the last five years, occasionally being put on the market and then withdrawn. It was most recently offered for sale in December 2011, but withdrawn in September 2012. The accumulating neglect has led neighbors to fear that the owners hope that deterioration will reach such a point that it will override the protections the house has as a historic monument and it can be torn down and replaced with something more profitable. The email below was sent by the West Adams Avenues neighborhood association on March 6, 2013, to Ken Bernstein, manager of the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.


The following email was sent on March 6, 2013, to Ken Bernstein, manager of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.


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Ken Bernstein
Manager, Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Mr Bernstein

Please find enclosed some history of this numbered city monument.

What is happening now is that the owner, who bought the property a few years ago, appears to be waiting for it to fall down so that he can proceed with his development plans. I spoke to City Attorney Asha Greenberg this morning, who suggested that I call Building and Safety. The problem is that Building and Safety has been "dealing" with this property for over 30 years, and there has never been anything close to a satisfactory outcome. We are about to lose a monument at the entrance to our community.

We believe that this owner should be cited under the Vacant Building Ordinance, for is the failure to file a Statement of Intent (which involves a timeline for lawful occupany and renovation). The code recognizes that "Structures that are vancant and unsecured or barricaded pose serious post serious threats to the public's health and safety and are therefore declared to be public nuisances." It also proves for judicial or administrative procedures to abate and rehabilitate these structures. We are hoping for more than fencing and barricading.

Frankly, the neglect of this historical structure is an absolute disgrace. There is no other word for it. The owner cannot be allowed to profit by breaking the law, and stripping the city of yet another monument. There are provisions in the code for this property to have been protected decades ago, and, as a neighborhood, we are asking ourselves why, three decades later, this property is still being allowed to collapse.

Please let us know what can be done by the city to help resolve this. I think that Building and Safety has been part of the problem here: the officials I have spoken to see their role as securing the property and having the lawn mowed. That is not going to save this building.

The Vacant Building Ordinance is there for a reason, and should be used to save this building.

Thanks for your time

Linda Marais
West Adams Avenues


The West Adams Avenues can be contacted through their chair, Donna Jones, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Their website is: http://westadamsavenues.blogspot.com/


The reference in the email to previous history was to an article from 2004 on our website: http://www.westadams-normandie.com/index.php/newsarticles-menu/77-cleanup-elegant-manor