Drew Street in Glassell Park is named after the grandson of Andrew Glassell, a 19th century Los Angeles landowner whose family name was adopted by the neighborhood. The 2-1/2 block-long street, however, is better known for gang violence and massive police raids than its connection to neighborhood history. Despite a big drop in crime in the Drew-Estara neighborhood, Drew Street’s reputation for violence persists. In fact, the name is so firmly equated with gangs that the idea of renaming Drew Street was proposed at a recent meeting of the Drew-Estara Neighborhood Watch. “It would be nice not to think of it as a crime infested, gang infested area,” said LAPD Senior Lead Officer Leo Rey, who organized a block party last year to celebrate the changes in the neighborhood. “Crime has dropped dramatically. I don’t think it would be a huge cost to the city to change the name.”
Rey, who was at the meeting, said the idea was proposed by a neighborhood property owner. Officials with Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents the area, were checking into what it would take to change a street name. The process of renaming a street requires, among other things, a petition of property owners and public hearings, according to the city charter.
No word yet on whether Garcetti’s office would support a name change. “We’re giving the information regarding the neighborhood petition process to the constituent and letting the community take it from there,” said council district spokeswoman Julie Wong.
What name would replace Drew Street? Apparently no alternatives have been discussed so far. Rey said the name change itself would be more symbolic than anything but he concedes there would be opposition. “It would be very difficult to change it because it has a lot of history attached to it,” Rey said. “We don’t want all the street names changed in the City of Los Angeles.”