More room and park space in the works for Highland Park’s Veterans’ memorial*

The City Council today is scheduled to vote on a proposal  to hand over Highland Park’s Veterans’ Memorial to the Recreation and Parks Department, a move that officials say will help improve public safety and set the stage for an expanded memorial and green space.  Turning the memorial at  Figueroa and York Boulevard into a park would allow officials to establish operating hours and ban overnight camping  on the triangular traffic island, which has attracted the homeless and served as a hub for drug dealing and other criminal activity over the years, officials said.

Jose Gardea, Chief of Staff for Councilman Ed Reyes, who introduced today’s motion,  said the proposal to turn the property into a park is about increasing public safety and not chasing the homeless away.  “It’s a public safety issue,” he said.

The idea to turn the memorial into a park surfaced last May when the triangular site, which includes a towering flagpole surrounded by a seating area and a stand of trees, was fenced off by the city.

In addition to place the veterans’ memorial  under control of the parks department, Reyes’ motion also includes $20,000 to begin fleshing out plans to improve and expand the memorial. Reyes said an expanded memorial and park would include the diagonal turn off lane between northbound Figueroa and eastbound York and part of the adjacent parking lot in front of the Highland Park Adult Senior Citizens Center.  Gardea said enough parking spaces will remain to serve the senior center. Community meetings about the expanded memorial are scheduled for the fall.

“It’s a beautiful entry point” for Highland Park, Gardea said. “When you take a step back and take a look, you can can see the potential.”

* Update: Council voted to approve the motion.


  1. Great idea, It’s neat space and it’s been locked up for too long. The plan needs to include some sort of strategy for services to the homeless and/or drug using squatters that called the park home, prior to it being fenced up.

  2. The memorial should be permanently fenced up, like they do on the Westside by Santa Monica. Open the gates during the day, and lock the gates at night to keep the site clean. For the crime and drug issues, that’s a question for the LAPD. I can be sitting there waiting to make a left turn onto Figueroa, watching something going down about 30ft from me. If I see it, why doesn’t the police? Can’t the city invest in CCTV for everything?

  3. It’s funny how many of the “public parks” in LA county end up being “closed to the public” (see City Hall) and I have to disagree with Ro, parks should be open to all members of the public, whether they happen to be poor or not. I think expanding and improving the park is a great idea, as many pedestrians (and cars) pass through this high traffic intersection… I would love to see more plantings, flowers, and seating… it really could be a “welcoming patio” for Highland Park and serve as impetus to make it much more pedestrian friendly!!!!

  4. Whatever the merits or demerits of this becoming a park, and of the city having run the homeless out of there — Reyes should stop lying about the reason this has come to be done. There’s a reason Reyes thinks he has to go out of his way to lie about this.

    He tries to lie to make you think it has nothing to do with the homeless who had been there. In fact, that is the ENTIRE reason. And classifying it as a park — as itty bitty as it is — then allows the law barring camping in parks to be used to arrest any homeless people who fall asleep there. This is becoming to park to allow for the homeless to be jailed for being homeless. And that jailing will cost taxpayers. Even as green, this could have been left as property and jurisdiction of the Public Works Department — but that would not have provided for arrested homeless camping in a “park.” There is only one reason this is being classified as a park — because they want to throw the homeless inn jail.

    I’m sure when this is greened up, it will look pretty nice, even be an asset to the community. Still, that $20,000 could have been spent providing a home to several of the homeless and helping them get a job and rebuild their lives, rather than beating up on them, the weakest of the weak.

    • Have the homeless come shack up with you at your place. Id’ like a park I can use.
      One that is not full of trash, graffiti and drug dealing.

  5. Granted the square is a place for the homeless to stay…but mothers, students, parents, grandparents have to walk through there and sometimes have to put up with the yelling, cussing, stalking, having to be stared down..just because they are homeless does not make them saints/martyrs….I see it all the time when a mother has to hold her child closer as they walk through that area, or her baby stroller. Don’t associate sympathy to the situation..I’m sure the homeless wouldn’t want that either

  6. I agree with Highland Parker that parks should be open to everyone. Currently if you look at the park it is clean there is no graffiti, no trash, no left behind items that belong to homeless people, and no one claiming a bench and passing out on it. Take the fence down, and I wonder what will happen? We live in a diverse community, that large parts of the population are marginalized due to income, culture and race. We lack a sense of community civic pride, there are no community groups that want to adopt the park and make it better. Either the city takes care of it, or it becomes urban plight. Until there is a unified civic pride for north eastside communities the city needs to take harsh steps , and clear boundaries of what is appropiate for perserving our communities from urban plight.

  7. One source to prevent gang activity is Kids take care of ur
    Mothers actually mothers watch ur kids/children .Police Patrol
    N change the names of the parks that gangs use for names of their
    Gang..paisitas always messing things up in this country they need to
    Realize wut they have n can do to succeed in this lovely country…People /civilians
    Who choose to use the park should b willing to volunteer to clean the park..
    Sad to see places look like El Salvador,Mexico n other filthy places enjoy wut u have
    Appreciate n help keep it clean…..

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