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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do you live in El Sereno or Rose Hills? The City Council may soon decide the answer

Courtesy Joseph Manzano

By Nathan Solis

Somewhere between Montecito Heights, El Sereno and Monterey Hills sits the community of Rose Hills. Or at least that’s what many of the residents who live there have long insisted. Meanwhile another group of residents, lead by the El Sereno Historical Society, have been equally vocal that Rose Hills does not and has never existed.

The long-running debate recently escalated and spilled over into City Hall and a neighborhood church as the City Council prepares to take a vote that could help decide whether or not there really is a Rose Hills.

Photo from the LA-32 Neighborhood Council website

It would not be the first time a section of El Sereno has been renamed. The area around Cal State L.A., for example, is now “University Hills” while “Hillside Village” is the name applied to area around Wilson High.

The El Sereno Historical Society’s most vocal member, Jorge Garcia, explains – a number of times – in person and on the society’s website that Rose Hills does not exist, and that actions of the Rose Hills’ community activists lack community participation.

“The great majority of the community has been left out of most of the important issues and decision making, especially when it comes to the creation of sub-communities,” says Garcia via email.

Residents of Rose Hills see it differently. Community activist and neighborhood council member Anthony Manzano lives in Rose Hills and has researched its history. He claims that it’s one of the oldest communities in Los Angeles and should be recognized as such. There is already a Rose Hill Recreation Center and a Rose Hill Park.

Manzano sees the issue not as the creation of a sub-community but of an official stamp recognition courtesy of five, city-approved neighborhood signs that would be placed around Rose Hills. The City Council is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, June 26, on a motion introduced by Councilman Jose Huizar to install those Rose Hills signs.

At this point, the push and pull of the issue hinges on these signs. Manzano claims that there were Rose Hills signs (pictured at top) before but that they were stolen or vandalized.

“This is what they don’t want,” said Manzano, leaving “they” unnamed. “Once we get our signs we’re official.”

But the boundaries of Rose Hills, which appears to spread across the blocks and hills west of Huntington Drive and Mission Road, remain unclear. Not even the council motion provides boundaries, just five locations – including Huntington Drive and Collis Avenue and Soto Street and Mission Road – for the signs.

At a recent Education & Neighborhoods Committee meeting at City Hall, two dozen people from Rose Hills  made public statements on agenda item No. 8,  the motion to install signs in Rose Hills. They wore red roses in their lapels as they shared their stories.

“I’ve always known it as Rose Hills,” said Raul Campos, who grew up in the area. “We just want to be recognized as a community.”

Manzano presented a packet on all his findings to the committee, a thick dossier of historical clippings, maps and signatures from community members.

Also attending was Garcia of the historical society. When he goes up to speak he begins to pantomime a map of El Sereno with his hands and it becomes clear that he cares about his own community. Garcia goes on past his allotted two-minutes, stating signs don’t define boundaries, that nobody had a chance to voice their opinion.

Committee chair Bernard Parks looked up from Manzano’s dossier packet that includes signatures in support of the Rose Hills recognition. “Are those 500 signatures not accurate?” Parks asked Garcia.

“There are 40,000 in El Sereno. How can that represent what the people want?,” Garcia fired back.

An amended motion in support of the signs is eventually approved and forwarded to the full City Council for a final vote. But the story doesn’t pause there.

“The meeting you saw was really one-sided,” said Garcia via email.

Garcia claims that Councilman Huizar, who represents El Sereno, has given his support to the residents of Rose Hills unfairly. “Otherwise, this would never have happened,” Garcia says.

I asked Garcia last week what his next step will be  but he replies that he cannot give away his strategy.

Then, last Sunday, I receive an email from a Rose Hill activist saying that members of the historical society members are petitioning parishioners who are leaving mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe – Rose Hill.

It’s chaos. When I arrive a group of women are crossing the street to get away from the men with clipboards, and two people have video cameras on me – one from the church who claim that there are trespassers and another from the Rose Hills community. A woman with a camera from Our Lady of Guadalupe approached a man in the parking lot to ask who he represents. “I’m with Rose Hills. Please turn that off.”

A flyer being handed out states that a “group of people” want to change the community’s name to Rose Hills (plural) from Rose Hill (singular).

Women and children who walk out of mass don’t understand what this all means, and are lectured in Spanish by two men with clipboards. The men claim they are concerned citizens of El Sereno who wish to educate the church members on the upcoming name change. They have a handful of signatures and allege that church members were threatening to call the police.

Joe Manzano, Anthony Manzano’s father, points out that the flyer is trying to involve the church in the debate and  confuse church members to make uninformed decisions.

“The church is not involved with this,” Joe Manzano adds. But in the packet that Anthony Manzano presented to the neighborhood committee, Father Nelson Trinidad from Our Lady of Guadalupe – Rose Hill signed his name in support of the Rose Hills signs.

It appears that this last ditch effort to sway minds about the Rose Hills signs was more confusing than effective. The City Council will have the final say on Wednesday.

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.

26 comments

  1. I strongly oppose to this community being renamed “Rosehills”.

    I have been a member of this community for over thirty years. I even purchased a home on the same street I grew up on because I love my community of El Sereno. I attended Huntington Drive Elementary, El Sereno Junior High and Woodrow Wilson High School all of which are in El Sereno.

    The Name Rosehill is part of the park which is across the street from my parish. I do not agree with our Pastor and school Principle of Our Lady of Guadalupe-Rosehill. Support of this motion.

    Yes we have a great history and we should all be proud of it, but in order for that to happen it needs be shared with everyone and not a select few.

    I request that if Mr. Manzano wishes to pursue this issue, then community meetings should be called to address this and sufficient justification should be given. Secondly new updated signatures need to be collected. The signatures collected do not adequately reflect representation of my street or our community. One of the address listed is Olympic Blvd that is no where near this community nor does a resident who lives in Alhambra or Highland Park. One signature from one resident on Amber is not a fair representative of all of the homeowners who own and have lived on this street for over thirty years, I am one of those owners. Not to mention that many of the signatures have dates from 2006 or have no address listed and some signatures look like they were done by one person.

    Secondly who is this Rose Hills Community & Homeowners Alliance. I have lived in the community for over 30 years and owned a home for over 16 years and this is the first time I hear about them.

    This matter needs to be presented to the community so they can make an informed decision about their community.

  2. I’m a long time resident of El Sereno and I attend this church. I heard about this from a friend. I had no idea this was taking place and don’t understand why it was never announced by anyone at the church. I asked other church members and residents about this and they also had no idea this was happening. From what I heard and read these Rose Hills people have used the church and school to make it look like they have the support of the community. But the community is barely finding out so I know these Rose Hills group don’t have the support they want everyone to believe.

    Here are some things that the article left out that are important to know.
    The article didn’t mention that Joe Manzano took kids from the church school to the meeting and made it seem like the school supports Rose Hills. I asked a friend who has kids at the school and she said the Rose Hills naming and signs was never announced at the school. That’s unfair for the school to allow this man to use the kids and leave the parents of the school uninformed. Shame on the school administrators and church officials for allowing this.

    Another thing I found out was that Father Nelson wrote two letters that are in the file Joe Manzano turned in. And the principal of the school also turned in a letter that is in the file. Why is the church and school getting involved in this but then leave out the community members? This was never announced at the school and church and that means residents were not informed on purpose. I read the letters and it’s confusing that the letters say the church and school support the Rose Hill community, not the Rose Hills community. To me the letters say that the church and school are against this Rose Hills, but then why are they in the file for Rose Hills? It doesn’t make any sense.

    I never liked Father Nelson. He is rude and will do anything to get his way. He is the reason many have left the church. One last thing the article didn’t say is that Father Nelson made announcements at the end of mass saying that the people outside were there against him and no one should sign the things they had because it was against the church. I read the petition and it did it say Father Nelson’s name or the church. It was only against the naming and posting of Rose Hills signs. If church members were confused it was because Father Nelson is a liar and he confused the church members on purpose. I hope they complain against him and throw him out.

    This area has always been called Rose Hill, never Rose Hills. I also know it is part of El Sereno and if these Rose Hills people hate living here so much then they should move out. We’re happy here in El Sereno and don’t want to be confused with a cemetery.

  3. It seems like people want to feel like they are in some sort of “exclusive” neighborhood. I vote for keeping it El Sereno.

  4. apparently you say you have lived in this Rosehills areas across from the parish for 30 years and you haven’t attended the meetings which have gone on for several years right at the playground -there were also meetings for homeowners in the area and Mr. Manzano gave special talks and open discussions to the community about the maps and layouts and history of Rosehills and El Sereno and San Gabriel -Alhambra etc. I am not trying to put you down but what would you suggest how else to inform you. my family has lived here in 1950 and we also lived directly behind the church on their property before the school was even built. Father Nelson is an individual who has rights to like and sign petitions and vote just like any other AMERICAN so for people to say he is representing the whole Parish is wrong

  5. There is only one Rose Hills and it is in Whittier!

    • Agreed. What’s next, naming a community Forest Lawn?

    • Ok Mr. joe I was raised in the Rose Hill Projects since 1958 so for your information the Rose Hills in Whittier has nothing to do with Rosé Hill 90032 you need to get your info checked. Rudy Perez.

  6. Father Nelson did not sign a petition, he wrote two letters in support of Rose Hill, not Rose Hills. I saw and read them. That is more than signing a petition. And about the meetings, it doesn’t make any sense to have any if the community is not aware of them. What was sent out to make sure everyone knew about this? Nothing was ever announced at the church about this name change and Father Nelson has an obligation to inform the community. He has the right to be informed and choose what sides he wants, but so does everyone else and that was not done in this case. You talk about the American way but your Rose Hills group don’t practice it. Rose Hills is a place for dead people in Whittier.

  7. I love obscure sodas, obscure music, and obscure neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The more neighborhood names the better. It makes things interesting.

  8. El Sereno Resident

    As a long time resident of El Sereno, I don’t understand what seems to be the big issue here. If a community wants to get together and organize for the betterment of their residents or to increase the quality of life of their area, then, what is the problem with that? That’s great! Why would you want to stop that process? A few more signs in Rose Hills are not going to affect me in El Sereno. They are not going to affect my quality of life in El Sereno. Instead of yelling and bickering at this issue, we should applaud these folks for taking action in their community. We should all be following suit.

    I want to say one last thing. Even though I live in El Sereno, I attend Our lady of Guadalupe Church. Unfortunately, I could not make this past Sunday’s mass because I was out of town. I heard that people from the El Sereno Historical Society were out bullying people to sign some sort of petition. I also heard that they were very rude and loud and at one point, disrespectful to our priest. Now, this society has just pulled their last straw with me. I am now quickly learning that this group is quickly loosing credibility in El Sereno. They don’t get along with anyone. People are disassociating themselves from them. I hear they are not the most popular people. How dare do you disrespect our priest?

    El Sereno Veterano

    • THAAANNK YOU!! I believe that many of the negative comments on here are from the same person…which is the main member of the El Sereno Historical Society. Its been found that this person has multiple Facebook profiles to make it seem like he has this huge following….so I wouldn’t put it passed him to have done same here.

  9. Won’t be decided at City Council today, anyway …. was kicked back to the Education & Neighborhoods Committee, which won’t meet again until at least July 16. SO, the debate goes on, apparently!

  10. Mr. Veterano, it’s clear you have no idea what you are talking about. Since you were not there and are only off what others told you, I can see how you blame everything on the El Sereno Historical Society. Let me clear up your misconceptions. First, the El Sereno Historical Society DID NOT organize this petition drive, residents and members of the parish did, we simply helped in the signature collecting process.

    Second, no one disrespected the priest. It was the other way around; the priest was the one yelling and threatening people. But he didn’t just yell at anyone, he actually yelled and disrespected church members who volunteer and are active in the church. We never disrespected Father Nelson, nor were we there as the El Sereno Historical Society. Out of the group of 9, only two are actual members of ESHS and the rest were residents and church parishioners.

    It also seems you have no idea what the real concern is all about. It’s not about people trying to better what they call Rose Hills. It’s actually about people not having been informed about these changes or getting the chance to make thier opinions count. Just because you feel what this Rose Hills group is doing is okay doesn’t mean everybodu else is okay with it. The truth is everyone should have the chance to be fairly informed and then allowed to have their voice count. This clearly was not what was taking place with the Rose Hills group and all we did was inform those who this change would most affect.

    If sharing information with residents is something you consider offensive and disrespectul, then it really doesn’t matter that you don’t know what we are all about. You already made up your mind and having an open discussion with you is a waste of time.

    As for residents disassociating themselves from us or us not getting along with anyone, who exactly are you talking about? What residents and who are we not getting along with? It seems the one who has a problem getting along with others is not the members of the El Sereno Historical Society. But, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Thank you.

    • Mr. El Sereno resident your letter is true to the bone— Mr and Mrs. Garcia they are the (ESHS) were TRYING to recruit parishioners going into and coming out of the church to help them (ESHS ) and to sign their petitions on the spot–they were telling people one story but the papers showed that they were trying to stop the 3 Rose Hills signs from going up—–also 2 children were on church property and had petitions on clip boards
      when we have another meeting maybe you can come and speak to those involved also when petitioners target young men and old ladies attending their church services and some others even are asking for the removal of a priest who is doing a great job what it comes down to- is ESHS even resent Hillside village and University Hills too
      they don’t want us to get any money to improve –also they opposed the removal of the Soto Street bridge but they were so concerned about the 3 signs that they didn’t even attend the meeting to oppose the winning bid for the removal of the bridge which was approved today -thank you for taking a stand for your rights too

  11. El Sereno Resident

    Mr. & Ms. ESHS, I have been an active member in El sereno for a very long time. Far longer than the ONE year you and your so called society has existed. Let me ask you a few questions? Do you hold meetings? Do you record minutes? Are there any board members? How are decisions made in this society of yours? Please, don’t try to school me. You and your society are a joke. And like I said, the whole world is trying to disassociate themselves from you. The word in town is that you are now being called the ES Hysterical Society.

    You mentioned that people weren’t informed about the additional signs? I received many emails a few years ago about multiple Land Use committee meetings in the LA32 NC regarding this issue. I did not attend those meeting because as I mentioned before, I thought it was a good thing for Rose Hills. And I still do! I then learned that the group from RHs went out and got support from the neighboring communities and neighborhood councils (Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Hermon, Montecito Heights.) Even the LA32NC, which represents EL Sereno, approved these signs. If my math is correct, that’s over 180,000 residents within these communities. Do you mean to tell me that these NC’s did not inform their residents of this issue? Was this item not on their agendas? Please spare me!

    I’m sorry, but you came late to the dance, you get to dance with the ugliest girl. Actually, *#@!&*$#@!*&^.

    Stay away from our church!

    • Former El Sereno Resident

      Bravo to El Sereno Resident. I understand this ESHS member is not from El Sereno or even Los Angeles County. Sure they live here now but until recently they lived in the San Diego area. What is their motive in all of this? Control? Power? Or is it about….Yes Money! Wake up El Sereno….Keep your eyes open and focused on these two from San Diego!

      • Well, it’s seems you know so much about nothing when it comes to the ESHS. San Diego area, until recently??? Control, Power, Money??? Sounds like the Manzano’s agenda.

        Wake up El Sereno, this former El Sereno resident is trying to tell you that he/she knows nothing!!

        The smearing and lies shows the desperation people like the Manzanos and their followers feel when residents start becoming aware about things like this and begin to get active in helping their community.

        It’s amazing how threatened some people feel when residents start getting informed and start becoming active.

        So go ahead, say what you like to try and hurt the ESHS. In the end, the Truth is always stronger.

    • Maybe you need to go out a learn a little more because you talk about all these things that you know, yet maybe you need to know that Arroyo Seco and Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Councils did not support Rose Hills. The letters they wrote simply said that they didn’t care if Rose Hills signs were posted, as long as it wasn’t within their boundaries. You call that support? They just didn’t care so long as it didn’t have to do with their areas.

      As for the El Sereno (LA-32) Neighborhood Council approving this, WHERE ARE THE MINUTES showing the votes and when this was approved by the El Sereno NC??? All the file has is a letter written by Anthony Manzano, who was president of the NC at that time, which says that the NC approved these signs. Are we suppose to believe this flat out liar?? Please, spare ME.

      If you have the vote of the NC, why didn’t you add that to your so called archives that are now public record on City Council file 11-2057? Everyone who wants to see for themselves the lies these people love to weave can go to the link below and judge for themselves. http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=11-2057

      As for our meetings and all the other stuff you ask that has nothing to do with the real issue, we’re having one tomorrow, at El Sereno Park. Stop by and be a real resident of El Sereno, don’t just say you’re one from your computer.

      FYI- We have been parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe since childhood. Sorry to say, but your church seems to be in Whittier, which has the real Rose Hills.

    • Dear El Sereno Resident:
      I just read your one comment: “I’m sorry, but you came late to the dance, you get to dance with the ugliest girl. Actually, *#@!&*$#@!*&^. Stay away from our church!”
      Seems you been away from the church for quite a long time with that kind of attitude and language. Not very religious of you to be speaking that way.
      Peace to you.

  12. I still can’t believe these Manzano are wasting time w/this renaming / sign campaign……….
    All this time and money could have been used to improve the community instead of getting a few pinche signs placed for their own egos/gratification…..
    Rose Hills is in Whittier……….end of story, pendejos.

  13. El Sereno Resident

    The real reason to rename a community is it increases the value of property. Its like a section of Van Nuys renamed
    West Hills. To disassociate from El Sereno and its crime and gangs. But The problem is you remain in the same zip code. Besides you Have housing projects, Your dream of golf courses, hourse trail and expensive homes are a dream. You will have to relocate the entire community to palmdale to rebuild. Go to crime mapping.com and see how many 187, 459, and ADW along with other crimes. Keep dreaming. Maybe you will get a new ROSE HILLS CATHERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH.

  14. El Sereno Resident

    I don’t know who this person is above. It’s sure not me. Sounds like an idiot though. Maybe it’s the ES Hysterical society playing another one of their games.

    To: ESHS
    Your argument has clearly flatlined. There is no merit to your argument anymore. For that reason, I’ll be brief. I got better things to do.

    So you can’t seem to find those minutes hah? How funny! Maybe the LA32NC has already disassociated themselves from you. FYI, the LA32NC unanimously approved those additional signs. Again, you came to the dance too late. Go back to San Diego!

    And again, Stay away from our church!

    The Real El Sereno Veterano!

  15. LA-32 NC disassociated itself from me? That’s funny, since I just met with the members of the committee I’m in last week and spoke to several members who were happy to see that this division failed. So much for your attempt on that one.

    LA-32 (El Sereno NC) didn’t unanimously approve those signs because if it had you, Anthony Manzano, aka Real El Sereno Veterano would have made sure that was part of your “Archives”. Instead, all we have is a letter you wrote while you were president. What a farce.

    As for dance comments, grow up. FYI-Whoever is feeding you this San Diego BS is doing a great job at misinforming you. As for it being your church, I’ve never seen you there, whether am mass or pm mass, so don’t start to get religious all of a sudden.

    The REAL EL SERENO RESIDENT told it how it is and now you want to slander me because this person put you in your place. You say we came late to the dance, but at least we CAN dance.

    All we did is inform the community and the community responded. If making sure everyone gets a say in issues within the community is something you are against, then you need to find somewhere else to go.

  16. Not cool to disrespect father Nelson.

  17. I’m glad this topic came up again because I forgot to put in my thoughts. My thought…. Why in the hell is our city counsel WASTING their time and OUR tax dollars on meeting on something as tedious as what to name a friggin community when there are so many more important things to discuss, namely, gang tagging and what to do to control this issue. Put our tax dollars on beefing up police patrols at night and in the most tagged areas. I mean really!!!????

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