A major eyesore in our community has been an abandoned gas station on the northeast corner of Adams Blvd and Normandie Avenue. Once a functioning gas station, this place has been shuttered since 2007, when it was bought by a group of shadowy investors under the name Cay LLC. They diddled for years attempting to remodel the small auto-repair building into a minimart, and then flip the property. In the interim the place was surrounded by chain-link construction fences backed by tarps covered with graffiti and stuffed with trash. There were 20 Building and Safety cases against this property between 2001 and 2015. In the earlier years, for violations of auto repair codes. Later, while out of business, for repeated use of the property and adjacent sidewalks for unauthorized merchandise sales. And finally, for the graffiti and trash.
The good news is that the property has been sold to a serious developer. The remodeled minimart, constructed out on the frame of the original 1937 service station, proved to be so substandard that it will be demolished. It will be replaced by a full sized 7-11, up against the east wall. The new owners have held three meetings with the Adams-Normandie Historic Preservation Zone Design Review Board, and agreed to build the new 7-11 in an Art Deco style, which was prevalent when the original station was built and will fit in with the still earlier pre-World War I houses that predominate in the surrounding residential streets.
Tuesday, August 4, was the annual National Night Out on Crime, an event dedicated to community police partnerships. One local event was the 13th year of National Night Out held by the local block clubs in the area around Adams Blvd. and Normandie Avenue just south of the 10 Freeway. The main sponsor is the Adams Normandie Neighborhood Association (ANNA), joined by the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association, the Budlong, Juliet, Catalina Neighborhood Association, and the West Adams Neighborhood Association. The tradition is to have a march through some of the local streets followed by a big community potluck. Southwest Senior Lead Officers as usual provided a police escort. They led and followed the marchers and stopped traffic on Adams and on Normandie for the march, with many children blowing whistles, to walk in the street.
At the potluck afterward, attended by about 65 people, there were brief speeches by new City Council 8 representative Marqueece Harris-Dawson, State Assemblymember 53rd District Miguel Santiago, Deputy Chief William Scott, the assistant Commanding Officer of Operations South Bureau, and Captain Sean Parker, the new patrol captain at the Southwest Community Police Station. In addition to the food brought by participants the La Barca restaurant on Vermont Avenue donated a number of trays of their fine Mexican cuisine. The event was chaired by Marco Flores, ANNA president.
A bit north of the 10 Freeway on Normandie Avenue, just south of Washington Blvd. a dismal empty lot stood for endless years. In 2013 the city's Department of Recreation and Parks teamed with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) and the local block club, the West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, to turn this odd little spot into a marvelous pocket park. City Council President Herb Wesson was also strongly committed to the idea of the park.
The lot is only 4,000 square feet, and that a narrow strip fronting Normandie Avenue at Cordova Street. Ground breaking took place in August 2013, as part of Rec and Parks' 50 Parks Initiative. It opened to the public on December 7, 2014. My wife Jennifer and I have noticed it every time we drive up Normandie and this morning finally parked to walk through.
The little park is flanked by Craftsman-style river-rock pillars connected by a sturdy wrought iron fence, a perfect match to the historic West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhood, which dates from the late 1890s, with most of its homes built before the end of World War I.
The park has a combination lock on the gate, and is open from sunrise to sunset. It is filled with benches to sit on, California drought resistant native plants, exercise machines for adults, and for children a climbing structure and marimba-like metal tube instruments to make some music on. There is even a metal case holding a Little Free Library - people should drop by to donate some books! - Leslie Evans, 2-22-2015.
From ABC Eyewitness News, January 28, 2015
TWIN BROTHERS, 18, ARRESTED IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES STABBING DEATH
Maria Elena Rivas, 62, is seen in an undated photo (left), and at a Ralph's Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. She was fatally stabbed as she walked in West Adams (right).
Twin 18-year-old brothers from Los Angeles were arrested in connection to the stabbing murder of a 62-year-old South L.A. woman.
Maria Rivas was killed Dec. 22 as she walked home from the market. Investigators said she was stabbed to death near Adams Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.
Shortly before her murder, Rivas was seen on surveillance video buying groceries at Ralphs. Her purse was clearly seen on her shoulder. When she was found along the street, the purse was gone and the groceries were left behind.
Los Angeles police were expected to release more information about the arrests at a Wednesday news conference.
Every two years the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority must do a point-in-time count of the homeless in Los Angeles County. The results of this count will determine how much funding the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will give Los Angeles for homeless housing and other services. The count is crucial in the effort to get homeless people off the streets and into a better life. While the county-wide count will take place over three days, January 27-29, the part that will affect our neighborhoods will be on Thursday, January 29, from 8 pm to midnight, when a thousand volunteers will go out by car and on foot to scour South Los Angeles to tally up the number of homeless.
People will go out in teams of three or four. This has proven in past years to be perfectly safe, and essential to receive federal funding. If you can volunteer, please sign up at:
For more information please see the press release below from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
George McQuade III
Phone: (213) 225-8491
Fax: (213) 892-0093
For Immediate Release
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Launches Volunteer Campaign
for Largest Homeless Count in the Nation
The 2015 Greater LA Homeless Count Involves Thousands of Volunteers, Government and Community Partners to determine extent of homelessness across Los Angeles County
Los Angeles, CA, January 8, 2015 – The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) today called for 6,000 volunteers to assist with the 2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which will take place countywide over three nights from January 27 to 29. Volunteers should register at TheyCountWillYou.org to assist in their community. Dozens of deployment centers across LA County will host the nation’s largest street count of homeless community members.
“The 2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is a critical opportunity to gain information about the size and scope of the challenge we face to house community residents experiencing homelessness,” said Executive Director Peter Lynn. “We use this information to better target our homeless service resources. Volunteers will make a difference in their community, and the lives of their homeless neighbors, by committing four hours of their time.”
LA’s last Homeless Count in 2013 found more than 39,000 men, women and children.
The Homeless Count will cover L.A. County as follows:
· Tuesday, January 27 (8:00PM), San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles County
· Wednesday, January 28 (8:00PM), West Los Angeles and South Bay
· Thursday, January 29 (6:00AM), Antelope Valley
· Thursday, January 29 (8:00PM), San Fernando Valley/Santa Clarita Valley, Metro Los Angeles and South Los Angeles
Volunteers will be dispatched from 87 regional deployment centers to targeted census tracts throughout the county to record the number of homeless people, vehicles used as homes and homeless encampments observed. Volunteers select their preferred deployment center when they register at TheyCountWillYou.org.
The Count will follow definitions of homelessness established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which include people living in places not meant for human habitation such as cars, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings. A simultaneous count by service provider staff will enumerate homeless individuals and family members staying in emergency shelters and other homeless programs.
In conjunction with the three-night street and shelter count, LAHSA will perform a detailed demographic survey to collect information critical in planning and assigning resources for homeless programs and services. Demographic data will include such data as age, gender, ethnicity, individual and family homelessness, duration of homelessness, and veteran status. Additional demographic data seeks to identify reasons why individuals became homeless, services utilized and benefits received.
The volunteer registration website is: TheyCountWillYou.org
If you have any questions, please contact HomelessCount@lahsa.org.
Follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/GreaterLaHomelessCount
About the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority:
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is a joint powers authority of the City and County of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages over $70 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing and services to men, women and children experiencing homelessness. For more information about LAHSA, visit: www.lahsa.org.
Maria Elena Rivas Lomeli, a long-time resident of the 2600 block of Van Buren Place, was murdered around 6:10 pm December 22 by an assailant on Adams Blvd. just east of Catalina Street. Our information at this time is that she was accosted by a man on a bicycle while walking back from the Ralphs market at Adams and Vermont Avenue. He stabbed her and she died on the sidewalk. She leaves behind her sister, Rosa Contreras and other relatives at their home on Van Buren Place. She was 62 at the time of her death.
If anyone has information about this crime they should call the police anonymous tip line at 800-222-8477, or report what they know online at www.lacrimestoppers.org.
On July 25, 2014, a city crew showed up on the 2600 block of south Budlong Avenue in response to some bureaucrat's orders to solve the problem of tree roots pushing up a short segment of sidewalk. We don't know to what extent they explored ways to let the tree coexist with a new piece of sidewalk, but the first thing they did was bring out their chainsaws. It was a magnificent huge camphor tree, twice the height of the two-story 1909 Craftsman home it stood in front of. The tree was almost certainly planted when the house was built, long before anyone now living in this neighborhood was born. It was the treasure of the residents of the home it stood in front of. They were not consulted or given any warning or explanation. In an hour or so the wonderful tree was reduced to butchered scrap, which was carted away the next day, leaving the woman who heads the household in tears. This decision is a heavy blow to the residents whose home it graced, and to their neighbors for many blocks around.
Even though this part of West Adams is an old community, mostly built between 1903 and 1915, very few of the old giant trees remain. There is an even larger Morton Bay Fig in the next block south on the same side of Budlong, but it has escaped the city choppers because it is behind the fence on the house's front yard, while the victim on the 2600 block stood on the parkway.
Under current rules the city is supposed to plant two trees for every one it cuts down. We will see if, here in South Los Angeles, they follow through on that promise. But only the youngest of our neighborhood's residents can expect to live long enough for these replacements to even begin to approach the majesty of the tree that was destroyed.
Our sidewalks are now on a hundred year schedule for repairs. Surely in the few cases where something is done about sidewalks in our lifetime we shouldn't have to pay for the repair by losing our finest trees.
We do not know what options the city considered in this case. There are often ways to save the tree while replacing a raised sidewalk. The city needs to explain their actions to the residents and to the local neighborhood association, the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association. On the 2600 block of Van Buren Place as an accommodation for expanding roots the sidewalk was narrowed by about a foot as it went past a large tree. Roots can be shaved and covered, then topped with thinner than standard concrete. There are other possible measures that might have been applicable.
We would like to receive an explanation of why the Department of Public Works felt they had to cut down this tree, and some review of this policy to reassure our citizens that killing the tree is not the first option where sidewalks have been damaged.
The Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association has planted, or caused to have planted and raised funds for several years of initial watering, about 70 trees in our immediate area in the last 25 years. Even the oldest of these is a small sapling compared to the Budlong camphor tree, and we feel its loss keenly.
It is rare that a home comes up for sale on the 2600 block of Van Buren Place. It is the original block of the city's Adams-Normandie Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, the city's name for its historic districts. Twelve of the fourteen houses on the block are on the Secretary of the Interior's Register of Historic Places. It is just south of Adams Blvd., halfway between Vermont and Normandie Avenues, very close to Downtown, and in walking distance to USC.
2615 is a smaller, and much newer (1983), house than the two-story century-old houses that give the block its character, but for that reason it is also much less money. The asking price is $379,900. The house, set back behind its garage, is one story, 1,001 square feet. It has three bedrooms, two baths, with a laundry setup in the garage. Behind the house there is a narrow garden strip that runs the width of the property, with two fruit-bearing fig trees and a banana tree.
The block is closed to traffic at the Adams Blvd side, with a decorative fence just at the end of the 2615 property line, which means there is very little traffic. There is an active block club, the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association, founded in 1980, which maintains this website. We look forward to welcoming new neighbors to the block when the house is sold.
The real estate agent handling the property is Gloria Archila of Berkshire Hathaway:
562-760-5630, firstname.lastname@example.org Her website listing is:
Some photos of 2615:
Three oil company drill sites in the West Adams section of South Los Angeles, operating more than 100 underground wells, have been the center of recent citizen protests, ramped up government inspections, a City Attorney lawsuit, and complaints that the city's Zoning Administration has violated municipal code and possibly state law in fast-tracking oil company expansion plans. These events have raised broader questions as to the competence of the city's oversight of an industry that deals in toxic, explosive, and flammable materials but has been allowed, from the days in the late nineteenth century when there were few zoning rules, to establish thousands of wells in residential neighborhoods throughout the city. Since the early 1960s most of these have been slant drilled underground, with scores of pipes emanating in all directions from anonymous compounds hidden behind high walls.
The recent West Adams complaints first arose in 2010-11 around Allenco Energy's drill site at 814 W. 23rd Street in the University Park neighborhood north of USC, adjacent to Mount St. Mary's College. Allenco purchased the operation in 2009 and boosted production 400%. Soon, neighbors began experiencing chronic nosebleeds, respiratory problems, headaches, and nausea. By late 2013 the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) had received 251 complaints. Community protest meetings drew several hundred people. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent inspectors, who were made ill and determined that leaks of petroleum fumes from badly maintained equipment were the cause. Allenco voluntarily shut down on November 22, under pressure from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. On January 7, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit to prevent Allenco from reopening until they comply with all applicable health and safety regulations.
Subsequently, two drill sites acquired last year by the giant Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas company became the subject of community complaints.