Anyone who has ever tried to get a stop sign or work with the city to save a neighborhood treasure knows it can take a lot of people and a long, long time. Last month, residents of the West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association – including Buzz co-publisher Elizabeth Fuller – saw their eleven- year-long effort pay off with a virtual ground breaking for a new neighborhood entry monument at La Salle Avenue and Washington Blvd. La Salle is one of four streets in the WAHSH neighborhood, the others are Hobart, Harvard and Oxford. Both Hobart and Harvard have entry monuments, so neighborhood leaders thought it would be nice to beautify the asphalt triangle, once a streetcar stop, with a new gateway monument at La Salle Ave.
The West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, which represents the area between Washington Blvd. and the 10 freeway, from Western Ave. to Normandie Ave., and is part of the Harvard Heights and Western Heights HPOZ, decided to build the monument for the neighborhood in 2009, using filming funds the association had earned when the television show Lincoln Heights shot there. With association funds in place, they also secured a Community Beautification Grant, a grant from the United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council, and additional funding from CD10 Councilmember Herb Wesson’s office. Initial designs, engineering work and landscaping design plans were donated by members and/or friends of the association.
By 2011, when Fuller moved to the historic neighborhood, progress was being made on the project. Initial plans had been sent to the city, and neighborhood volunteers had also helped get soil samples at the site dug and analyzed.
However, by the time the city came back a year or so later with requests for some small changes in the plans and engineering drawings, the initial volunteers for those tasks were no longer available, explained Fuller, now a WAHSHNA board member.
“We asked around for help, but it was one of those things that kept getting put on the back burner because nobody had the time or knowledge to take it on. Finally, about three years ago, Billie Green (our longtime WAHSH president), assigned the project to me and I started talking to all the architects and designers I knew, to see if I could find someone to help us navigate the city approval process and make the city’s requested changes in the plans,” said Fuller, who thought it would be a fairly small job.
After several months of searching, she finally wrangled an architect friend, Kelly Kennedy, into helping make changes to the drawings, but each time they were submitted, the city came back with “just one more” request. When the project finally won the approval of the Board of Public Works in July 2020 — 11 years after it was first submitted — the board president was so impressed with the neighborhood’s efforts, Fuller said, that he commented, “If you look up the word “persistence” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of this project.”
“We had permits in hand just a couple of weeks later, and over the next two months had to go back and re-do all the contracts that had long since expired for contractor (Axiom Construction), and fiscal agent LACC, which has been holding our grant money for many years,” said Fuller.
But their persistence was finally rewarded with a groundbreaking ceremony held via Zoom October 23, with residents and City Councilmember Herb Wesson. The ceremony was virtual but the groundbreaking was real, as workers from Axiom Construction tossed several ceremonial shovels full of dirt following removal of the old asphalt.
“I love it when plans come together. Thank you for not giving up,” said Wesson, congratulating the neighborhood leaders for contributing to the beautification of their neighborhood.
Since the groundbreaking, work on the monument has proceeded nicely. The former asphalt triangle will soon be transformed into a new median landscaped with drought-tolerant CA native plants, a border of river rock (chosen because it is featured on several historic homes and retaining walls on La Salle Avenue), and a river-rock-clad monument in the center of the island, topped with a light fixture in keeping with the two other monuments in the neighborhood.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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3 thoughts on “West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill Neighborhood’s La Salle Gateway Monument Takes Shape After a Decade”
Congratulations! The plans look great. Interesting to read about the long journey. Too bad it takes so long to replace a small patch of asphalt with greenery. Does the City install irrigation in the little triangle?
Unfortunately, no. The neighborhood association has pledged to water and maintain the plants.
Thanks for the reply. We have to do that, too, in Carthay Circle. Maybe we need to outfit a rain barrel with wheels. Look forward to seeing your gateway garden.