Only nine gnarled trees remain of an old Garvanza olive grove that some residents say was planted more than a century ago. Under pressure from nearby residents, a developer several years ago agreed to leave the trees alone as part of an effort to build 16 homes on the site, located to the east of Avenue 64 on Elder Street. But earlier this month, residents were surprised to find a crew of workers with pick axes and earth moving equipment working near the trees in violation of the agreement.
A new developer, Irvine-based South Coast Builders, has purchased the property and had recently pulled building permits on some of the parcels. The city ordered the grading work to stop until the appropriate review and permits were issues, according to Highland Park preservationist Jonathan Silberman. Said Silberman of the site:
The project, between the northernmost end of North Avenue 66 and Elder Street and adjacent to Arroyo View Estates, has long been a lighting rod for community opposition, due to concerns about the elimination of green space, increased massing and density within the neighborhood, and geological safety issues with the hillside, and many had thought that the project was finally dead following the recent real estate bust. But with the new housing recovery, real estate investment and construction has returned at a frenzied pace, and a new investor has now purchased the property, reigniting neighborhood concerns.”
The trees were part of what was known as the Lindsay Olive Orchard, according to Garvanza, a pictorial history by Highland Park historian Charles Fisher.