Heritage Trust News

President’s Message: Fall 2021 MEGA Issue of “Our Cornerstone”

Click this photo to read Our MEGA Cornerstone, Fall 2021


Dear HPHT Members and Northeast LA Community members,

The Highland Park Heritage Trust has had a challenging but eventful year as we navigate a world that is forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I am so happy to present you with this first-ever MEGA issue of Our Cornerstone with the help of a Neighborhood Purpose Grant from the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council. CLICK HERE to download the full issue. This grant is allowing us to expand the content and distribution of the Cornerstone in the NELA community, and is allowing us to enhance our outreach capacity.

The Heritage Trust has not been immune to the struggles faced by non-profits all over the country as a result of COVID-19. Dramatically increased workloads, brushes with the COVID-19 virus, funding concerns, adapting to fulfill the organization’s mission in a fully remote environment…all of these and more comprise the challenges that we have navigated. The pandemic is not over yet, but we are grateful that our membership and our community has stayed with us at every step, and we pray that all of us stay safe and healthy so we can come out of it together.  

In the face of challenges, we have found bright spots and successes to celebrate in the community including the HCM Designations of the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park; The Dedication of Annette Cardona Square; The Opening of the Tiny Homes Village at Arroyo Seco Park, and so much more that we are sharing with you in detail in this issue.

As we approach our 40th anniversary in 2022, we look ahead with a focus on sustaining our organization far into the future and taking you with us on this journey into the next 40 years. In the meantime, please enjoy this MEGA issue of the Cornerstone and get up to speed on preservation efforts and related community news in Northeast LA.


HPHT President Jamie Tijerina

To make a fully tax-deductible donation to the Highland Park Heritage Trust and continue supporting our mission, CLICK HERE.

HLP Community Menorah Lighting for Hanukkah


Mark the Festival of Hanukkah’s third night at a Historic public lighting of a giant Menorah in Highland Park at Academia Avance!

This holiday celebrates the triumph of light over darkness during the darkest days of the year.

Tuesday, November 30th 2021 at 6:00pm
Academia Avance
115 N. Ave 53
Highland Park Los Angeles, CA 90042
(enter into the parking lot at Figueroa/Ave 54)

Rabbi Jason Rosner of Temple Beth Israel of HLP & ER will be leading the traditional ritual and songs. All ages and religious backgrounds (including none/secular) are invited! Kid friendly!

This event will be socially distanced and child friendly.

Pan dulce and coffee will be served!

To promote social distancing, the event will be Drive-In style so you can enjoy from your car.

View the event page on Facebook

Disfrute el Festival de Januka durante su tercera noche con nuestra iluminación pública de una menorá gigante.

Esta fiesta celebra el triunfo de la luz contra la oscuridad durante los dias mas oscuras del año.

Martes, 30 Nov 2021 a las 6:00pm
Academia Avance
115 N. Ave 53
Highland Park Los Angeles, CA 90042
(entrada al parqueo en la calle Figueroa y Avenida 54)

Rabino Jason Rosner dirigirá la celebracion y las canciones. Todos son bienvenidos, de todas edades y de todas religiones, y aún si usted es laico.

También serviremos pan dulce y cafe!

Para asegurar distanciamiento social, este evento se puede disfrutar en su carro al estilo de un autocine!

Visite la pagina del evento en Facebook

Presented by//Presentado Por:
Highland Park Heritage Trust
Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park & Eagle Rock
Academia Avance
CD1 Gil Cedillo
CD14 Kevin de Leon

Historic Garvanza Endangered by Los Angeles City Planning Decision

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments

Written by Historic Garvanza community member Brad Chambers on September 22, 2021

The quaint residential district of Garvanza, located in northeast Los Angeles, has been home to one of the highest concentrations of cottage-sized, arts-and-crafts, Victorian, mission revival, tutor, and other small, eclectic homes for nearly 150 years. The collection of quaint-size houses, together with their beautiful architecture, display of unique, natural materials consisting of Arroyo-sourced river rocks and old-growth redwood, cedar and Douglas fir wood siding and a beautiful array of historic window and door styles, made it an important candidate for historic and cultural preservation. In 2010, after a significant amount of volunteer work was done within the greater Highland Park and Garvanza communities, Garvanza became a cultural Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, commonly known as an “HPOZ”.

As a result of Garvanza’s HPOZ status, the community members and property owners have been held to a consistent set of standards outlined in what is known as the Historic Highland Park-Garvanza Preservation Plan for the past 11 years. In the preservation plan, a list of design standards are set forth to shape and govern the overall design and construction activity in the HPOZ, upholding the historic look and feel of the community and providing consistency in new construction or restoration work.

Garvanza’s historic appearance and community feel has become endangered by a decision rendered by the Los Angeles Department of Planning on September 16, 2021, in favor of a controversial development proposed for a highly-visible development site located at the northwest corner of Garvanza Avenue and Avenue 64 – the old Rite Aid overflow parking lot. The site is of particular importance to the community and the HPOZ, as it is the most visible ‘gateway’ entry into the community. Whatever is built on this site sets the design tone for the historic district and potentially introduces a precedent for future development in the Highland Park-Garvanza community and the broader network of HPOZ communities taken as a whole. The site is bordered to the immediate north by a row of cottage-sized residences, and it abuts the historic Dr. Laurence Smith site to the west, consisting of 3 historic, single-family, Victorian-styled residences dating back to 1870.

The decision by LA City Planning to allow for the development came as an alarming shock to the community. The applicant/owner, Gelena Skya-Wasserman, as referenced in the Planning Department’s determination letter, and her project team, have been in front of the HPOZ board and a large segment of the community at multiple planning-related meetings and hearings over the past 12 months. The Skya-Wasserman team is controversially proposing a 3-story, 33 unit residential apartment building, many of which are 4 and 5 bedroom suites sharing a single kitchen and single public space, designed for co-living. The co-living design concept is a new form of development that allows a developer to invest less money in a project by reducing the number of kitchens and public gathering spaces, and minimizing the amount of space dedicated to parking. The co-living development concept aids willing developers by skirting the unit restrictions and occupancy limits by placing households in bedrooms instead of full-
scale apartments. The end result is the developer achieves significant income enhancement while the
community standards for living decline.

In the case of the Skya-Wasserman project, the approved development acts like an approximate 150-unit development, instead of a 33-unit development. It has been said that this style of living is a new form of tenement housing that stained New York City’s reputation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The co-living also requires fewer dedicated parking spaces, resulting in an overflow of cars spilling onto the streets and placing a tremendous burden on the existing parking landscape. In addition to the co-living controversy proposed for this project, the project design remains large and shapeless, lacking any compatibility with the surrounding community. The building proposes a utilitarian, commercial style of design, consisting mainly of a large box clad in brick veneer and stucco. The guidance from the HPOZ board has been consistent: the building shape needs to have more variation, ‘modularity’ and better design articulation through scaling back some of the exterior massing (giving it a smaller appearance instead of a long and tall mass of walls), adding more design features to the roof line, alternating the roof shape and providing a more eye-catching finish to the top, changing the orientation of courtyards to be street facing instead of dark alleys tucked inside the building, utilizing window and door designs consistent in the neighborhood and the period, and using real brick instead of faux materials.

To assist the developer and offer a channel for community feedback, several meetings with the Skya-Wasserman team were done as consultations to assist the developer in its design, provided through guidance from the experienced set of HPOZ board members as well as obtaining community feedback.  Each consultation concluded with a list of recommendations made to the Skya-Wasserman team to prepare it for its final meeting with the HPOZ board, where a determination would be made to recommend or deny support for the project based upon its design.

The final approval meeting with the HPOZ consisted of 4 board members together with members of the Planning Department and nearly 100 members from the community. The Skya-Wasserman team presented its final design plans. The final design plans reflected little change or incorporation of the recommendations provided through the feedback in the earlier consultations. After a nearly 1-hour discussion, the HPOZ board concluded that the project was NOT compatible with the guidelines of the Highland Park-Garvanza Preservation Plan, and the collective body voted unanimously to recommend that the project be denied approval in its current form.

The community remains outraged about the ensuing endangerment of Garvanza and the lack of demonstrative care from the City of LA’s Planning Department. The decision by Planning to accept the project ‘as-is’, ignoring the HPOZ board’s recommendation, and without any corrections to achieve compatibility with the Preservation Plan and community feedback, is anticipated to harm the small, community feel of Garvanza, surrounding property values, the integrity of the Preservation Plan document, and the value of the HPOZ.  The decision is anticipated to set a dangerous precedent for future development within all HPOZs. Given the significance of the decision, the anticipated harm and disregard for consistency of rules, a community group has formed with the intent to appeal the Director of Planning’s controversial decision. The deadline for the appeal’s submission is October 1, 2021. 

Given the anticipated costs to fund legal expenses, a GoFundMe has been established to receive donations. If you are able to contribute to this fund, we encourage you to do so. No amount is too small to give–even a $5 or $10 donation can go a long way in the Historic Garvanza Coalition’s legal battle.

Press Release: Historic Garvanza Coalition & Community Members Appeal Proposed Skya Development

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments


October 4, 2021…LOS ANGELES, CA / GARVANZA NEIGHBORHOOD – Upon receiving news of the approval of Case No. DIR-2020-3912-TOC-CCMP-VHCA, ENV-2020-3913-EAF Proposed Development at 141 N. Avenue 64 (6312, 6314-6328 Garvanza Avenue), the Historic Garvanza Coalition has filed a Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) appeal. The appellants are: The Historic Garvanza Coalition and abutting neighbors Brad Chambers, Isidro Aguilar, Kesley Davis, Vincent McKelvie, and Amanda Schulz. The appellants are represented by Amy C. Minteer of Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer LLP.

The project applicant is Skya Highland Park Partners II, LLC, led by Gelena Skya-Wasserman. Following their 2016 purchase of the 60-unit Marmion Royal Apartments in Highland Park, many longtime residents, including a number of working class Latino families, faced rent increases of 50% and 57 tenants were ultimately evicted and displaced. The applicant is not new to Northeast LA, and Skya’s recent history has been painful for the community.

The project at issue in the appeal is a mixed-use development of 59,029 square feet including 33 units, 149 bedrooms, 122 bathrooms, and one commercial unit consisting of 1910 square feet of commercial floor area (“Project”) located at 141 North Avenue 64, 6312, 6314-6328 E Garvanza Avenue (“Site”). The approvals being appealed are: the granting, with conditions, of a Transit Oriented Communities (“TOC”) affordable housing incentive program compliance review density bonus and the issuance of a Certificate of Compatibility in the Highland Park-Garvanza Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (“HPOZ”). The building will be marketed as a co-living community; at this time there is no ordinance in Los Angeles to regulate this type of housing. Fewer than 7% of the units will be affordable. The rest will be rented at market rate.

The project has documented opposition from numerous organizations including the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Highland Park Heritage Trust, Garvanza Improvement Association, San Pasqual Arroyo Seco Wildlife Preservation, as well as many community members.

The project is located within the Highland Park-Garvanza Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. However, the project received approval despite the recommendation by the Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ Board’s recommendation to deny a Certificate of Compatibility. None of the design iterations presented to the HPOZ Board were in compliance with the Preservation Plan for the Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ. On February 23, 2021, more than 100 community members attended the Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ meeting to voice their opposition to the project.

“This is not what our HPOZ looks like. We decided to create an HPOZ to preserve what we have in our community,” said Rosa Rivas, a longtime Garvanza resident, in reference to the proposed project’s incompatibility with the guidelines of the Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ Preservation Plan.

Concerning evidence has also been submitted indicating that the project’s Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) designation was granted in error. “We are against developers being held to different standards from the everyday people who live in the community and follow HPOZ Guidelines when improving their properties and adding housing units,” said Jamie Tijerina, President of the Highland Park Heritage Trust and a Garvanza resident. “The evidence clearly shows that the project does not meet the criteria for a TOC designation.”

Serious environmental concerns are also cited, including the real possibility of contamination of the parcel due to the presence of underground storage containers on adjacent parcels. Past use of these nearby parcels includes a gasoline station and a dry cleaning facility.

“My quality of life will be ruined,” appellant Isidro Aguilar stated. He lives in close proximity to the project and is concerned about the environmental hazards stemming from it.

A statement from Councilmember Kevin de Leon at a February 2021 HPOZ Hearing indicated his concerns with the project: “The thoughts of the community are very important to me in any development and especially considered where the project will impact a historic area. It is crucial that developers work well with the community and that is my expectation for Ms. Wasserman and her team. At this time I have deep concerns regarding these plans.”

Any inquiries should be directed to HPHT President Jamie Tijerina at Jamie.hpht@gmail.com.

HPHT is an Official Redistricting Ambassador for the City of LA

We are happy to share that Highland Park Heritage Trust is an Official Redistricting Ambassador organization for the 2021 LA City Redistricting Effort. This means that we will be providing impartial, non-political information, education, and outreach to the community throughout the process so that NELA and the Eastside have a chance to give their public comment throughout the process.

We have been doing outreach for the hearings in our local districts, as well as the final citywide hearings in the first phase of the efforts. The very last citywide hearing before the draft maps are drawn and released will be held via Zoom on Sept 11th, 2021 at 10am and the link is http://bit.ly/LACCRCZoom. For those who can’t make it, you can sent in public comments virtually on your own time by Sept 11th to have a say before the draft maps are released at this link: http://bit.ly/lacitycoi .

Once the draft maps are released, you will have more opportunity to send in your public comment for Phase 2, and we will be sure to send reminders for these meetings and let you know how you can send your public comment in online if you can’t make it to a meeting. For a listing of the upcoming meetings, CLICK HERE. 

We are also seeking to continue partnering with organizations to ensure that the most people possible hear about this chance to have a say in the way that the lines are drawn for our Council District Boundaries in LA, and especially in our Northeast and Eastside council districts.

Partnering organizations include: NELA Community, Boyle Heights Community Partners, Avenue 50 Studio, Historic Garvanza, Hand more.

Make sure that you are following us on our social media between now and November to ensure that you are getting reminders about the meetings and the process.



LA City Council Unanimously Votes YES on the HCM Nominations of the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park

¡SI SE PUDO! After years of work and nearly a year of hearings and delays associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have reached the major moment in which the LA City Council has officially recognized the buildings that housed the Mechicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Público as Historic Cultural Monuments in the City of Los Angeles. This was a unanimous 14-0 vote.

Nationally, fewer than 10% of historic landmarks are associated with communities of color. Important places that are historically connected with the struggle for Latino civil rights in the US, the Chicano Movement, are at risk of being lost, just as Roosevelt High School was in Boyle Heights when the R Building and Auditorium were demolished in 2019.

The nominations of Mechicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Publico are not only critical for the preservation of Chicano history in Northeast Los Angeles, but they also are a step toward achieving equity in this space, ensuring that these important places will be there for our community and for many years to come.

The overwhelming support of our community has been critical throughout the HCM process, and we also are grateful to have a champion in the LA City Council who understands the importance of Chicano History, our CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo. Northeast LA and the Eastside value the preservation of our history and honoring those who came before, and the community’s and our councilmember’s support of these nominations at every step has underscored this.

We additionally would like to thank our local elected officials who also sent in letters of support including LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, and CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

We are also thankful all the members of the City Council citywide who unanimously voted YES on the nominations, including Councilmember Kevin DeLeon in neighboring CD14. Organizations who sent in letters of support included Occidental College, Boyle Heights Community Partners, Historic Garvanza, Art in the Park LA, Latino Heritage Conservation, Ave 50 Studio, and the LA Conservancy. There are so many people and organizations whose support we are grateful for, including Alexandra Madsen who spent countless hours writing and researching to author the nominations, and we hope to continue working together with everyone and recognizing you for your contributions to the preservation of Chicano History.

Very soon, we hope to complete and submit the third nomination associated with the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park, Corazón Productions, and others locally. We look forward in sharing this and many more nominations in the future with you, our community.

Jamie Tijerina, President HPHT

Final Vote in Front of LA City Council for the HCM Nominations of the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments

Dear Friends and Members of HPHT,

I’m writing with exciting news that the HCM Nominations of the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park, Mechicano Art Center and el Centro de Arte Publico, are scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday August 24th at 10am for their final hearing and votes in front of the Full LA City Council.

This is a major moment and we are so excited to be able to share this with you after coming together as a community over the past year to make this happen.

We hope that you will be able to attend the meeting remotely on Tuesday to support and give public comment. We are items 19 and 20 on the agenda, which can be found HERE.


Members of the public who wish to offer public comment to the Council should call 1 669 254 5252 and use Meeting ID No. 160 535 8466 and then press #. Press # again when prompted for participant ID. Once admitted into the meeting, press *9 to request to speak.

You can send your public comment directly to the Council Files via LA City Council’s online portal at https://cityclerk.lacity.org/publiccomment/, using council file number 21-0140 Mechicano and 21-0136 for Centro. If you’re short on time, all it needs to say is “I support this nomination.”

We are so thankful for your support and we very much hope to have good news to share with you following the meeting.

Jamie Tijerina
President, Highland Park Heritage Trust

HPHT Needs Your Help: Public Comments at HPOZ Hearing on 2/9

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments
We here at HPHT are once again calling on you, our dedicated community, to help us with a huge undertaking:
We need as many people as possible to turn out for public comment at the Highland Park/Garvanza HPOZ Hearing to hold developers and our City accountable to follow the guidelines for building in our historic Highland Park/Garvanza.
Our HPOZ board needs to hear from you* that both the City of LA and Developers must follow the Preservation Plan and the will of the community.


Tuesday, Feb 9th, 6:00 pm
Join Zoom Webinar:
Password: 963462


There’s a large multi-unit development planned for the parking lot adjacent to our local Rite Aid on York/Ave 64. The community needs to make sure the development is held to the standards set forth by our local HPOZ. The current project plans don’t meet HPOZ Preservation Plan guidelines.


The site has also been misclassified as Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC), when it does not meet the criteria for a TOC designation. Such a misclassification by our local government presents a serious problem, as it gives the developer authorization to construct a larger building or receive incentives, despite the site not meeting the criteria to allow this. The community must ask for accountability and compliance with the regulations that exist as a TOC designation can affect the design of the building within our HPOZ.

Turn out and let your voice be heard! You’ll have 1 minute to speak.

Once again, we thank you for all that you do to support NELA and our organization, and we look forward to your attendance at this HPOZ meeting.

*Please note: The HPOZ can only address design issues and compatibility with the Preservation Plan. They can’t act on any issues besides design and compatibility with the Preservation Plan. Their role in the process is not to stop a project. 

Your Support Needed For 1/21 HCM Hearing

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments

To kick off 2021, Highland Park Heritage Trust and the Chicano Arts Collective need YOUR support!

Yes, you. We are presenting our case at the second and final Historic Cultural Monument hearing headed by the Los Angeles County Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) this coming Thursday, January 21st, at 10:00am, via Zoom. We need all the help we can get, so now is your time to shine!

There are three ways to help us achieve the goal of a “yes” vote on the 21st: 

  1. Write a letter of support to the CHC. Tell them that you support our two nominations, and include compelling reasons why they should vote in our favor. You can email your support letter directly to the commission at chc@lacity.org. If you need a sample letter or suggested talking points, please email our media coordinator at sam.andrel@hpht.org
  2. Make a public comment on the day of the hearing. The CHC will designate time during the actual hearing after our presentation for public comments. You can express your desire to comment by “raising your hand” on the Zoom call, which you can find details about here
  3. Share our social media posts and graphics. We’ve created shareable graphics and posts on our Facebook and Instagram pages @highlandparkheritagetrust. Please share these with your networks, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to share as well!

From one community member to another, we thank you for your continuing support and involvement! To those of you who have already emailed letters or written articles about the upcoming hearing, we are forever grateful and are so excited to see you all (virtually, of course), on the 21st! 

Background Information

We are presenting historical background and justification for the preservation of two of LA County’s most influential buildings during the Latino arts movement in the 1960s and 1970s: the Mechicano Art Center, located at 5337-5341 North Figueroa Street, 110 North Avenue 54; and the Centro de Arte Publico, located at 5605-5607 North Figueroa Street. 

These two buildings played a pivotal role in allowing Latino artists to express themselves and showcase their creative work in a welcoming environment. Now under threat of erasure due to ongoing city development, there’s a dire need to preserve these historic centers to ensure the stories and work of these artists stay alive for future generations of Angelenos. 

Our first hearing with the CHC, which took place on October 1st, 2020, resulted in them voting to consider our two nominations for designation as historical monuments. During this hearing, they will cast their final vote for HCM status for both buildings. 

Join or Renew Your Membership to the Highland Park Heritage Trust!

Categories: Uncategorized No Comments

Join the Highland Park Heritage Trust in 2020! –> CLICK HERE

Your membership in the Heritage Trust supports historic and cultural preservation efforts in the communities of the Arroyo in the Northeast and Eastside of Los Angeles.

Joining the Heritage Trust gets you our a copy of our quarterly newsletter, “The Cornerstone” as well as discounted tickets to our walking tours and events. You will be the first to know about preservation efforts in the community and ways that you can support these efforts. Additionally, you will be able to reach out to our board’s professional historians and architects with questions about how to navigate preservation concerns in our neighborhoods.

In the Fall, we also plan to offer discounts to local small businesses as a benefit of membership.

Additionally, your membership dues are considered a tax-deductible donation as HPHT is a 501c3 non-profit. We also offer discounted memberships for students.

Join us today! Sign up online HERE