El Sereno neighborhood name dispute ends up in court

A Rose Hills  sign that was installed and removed several years ago/Courtesy Anthony Manzano

By Nathan Solis

A group of El Sereno residents have filed a lawsuit against the City Council over its decision last year to recognize a section of the neighborhood  as “Rose Hills.”

The City Council in September adopted a motion by Councilmember Jose Huizar to install five blue-and-white Rose Hills community signs.  But the legal action filed by El Sereno resident Jorge Garcia and the El Sereno Historical Society says the council should have never taken such a position  and wants the council to rescind its decision. “There is no substantial evidence to support the City’s determination that there is, or ever has been a community by the name of Rose Hills,” according to the lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court.

Rose Hills, according to the city,  is located in the western edge of El Sereno  but many people would have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between the two communities. The exact 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.

Some Rose Hills signs had appeared a few years ago but there’s no record of the City Council voting on the issue and it’s not clear who removed the signs.

Some residents, including neighborhood council member and activist Anthony Manzano, have long insisted that Rose Hills needed to be recognized as an existing community. During a presentation before a council committee last year,  Manzano  presented a history packet on Rose Hills with newspaper clippings dating back to 1915 naming the Rose Hills community as part of Los Angeles.

Manzano sees the historical society lawsuit as a stall tactic.

“What is going on now is another attempt to interrupt progress,” said Manzano with regards to El Sereno Historical Society. “It is more of a way to continue as they have, with obstacles and objection, because they didn’t get their way.”

El Sereno Historical Society’s most recent newsletter describes Councilmember Huizar as biased in what they  refer to as the division of El Sereno’s community and an unfair expansion of Rose Hills. “Councilmember Jose Huizar and this Rose Hills group did not provide any set boundaries,”  the newsletter says.

The lawsuit, filed last November,  says that a report from the Education and Neighborhood Committee did not have enough evidence to support a renaming of the area, nor did the report present an environmental or community impact statement.

Whether  the lawsuit delays the installation of Rose Hills streets signs remains to be seen. It’s not clear whether this is the first time the city has been sued over a community name.

West L.A. Neighborhood Council Chairman Jay Handal is familiar with neighborhood council politics and does not see this lawsuit going far because there are so many specific guidelines that are followed when naming an area.

“My personal opinion is that the City Elected officials have the right to do an area naming. I am sure that they would not have done what they did without rather extensive stakeholder input.”

A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for early February.

By Nathan Solis

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.


  1. Jesus Christ, Jorge Garcia should instead focus his efforts on cleaning up the scum that walks Huntington Blvd in broad daylight.

  2. i agree with sigh. if you get the councilmans weekly emails blast it on the front page it say’s! EL SERNO AND SEROUNDING COMMUNITY’S. and if you go to the el sewer -no! library as soon as you walk in there is a old 1940’s photo on the wall of all five original community’s and rose hills is one of them. mr garcia i hate to say it but you and the historic GANG! are all in denial of the truth. get over it. move on.

  3. I can’t beleive there are a ” couple” of people who hate the idea of our small area being called Rosehills when there are tons of other areas like University Hills– Hermon –Montecito Heights–Hillside Village – they seem to focus on the M.. family they need to leave from El Sereno Historical Society and the 90032 council they are very negative about any improvements in our areas and yes the Bridge is going down which has been approved and yet they try to stop it and stop posting that just maybe Huizar took a bribe to change Rosehill to Rosehills that was a statement on facebook but it was taken down pretty fast

  4. As a resident of the area, I’m glad that there is a lawsuit. I did not know there was a renaming going on until recently. Why waste money on signs that are not wanted? Most of my neighbors don’t want these signs either. I would rather like to see El Sereno signs go up.

    • Rev. Manuel Chacon

      I had to break to you, but those been up some some ten years ago. As Founder I and gave the name of University Hills because this area is near Cal. State L.A. This area has been abandoned by El Sereno that it was never part of it.

      and, the Council Man gave the area $100.00 some ten ago. . As a new Named area now we can get funds, and help. This is one of many reasons we changed names. No one cared. As a LA 32 South Region Director we have a voice.. I ask you what have you done to up-lift El Sereno. with furniture, and bed items all over El Sereno streets. You didn’t notice them?.
      We are all together because we are in the zip code 90032. We still work together as a unit. (sometimes) making all the area better place to live in. Time moves on.. By the way we all changed the name as a large group. No one person did it. I had about 100 people, and approved by the City of Los Angeles. Let us be good neighbor, and respect other. The Good book says “with Love” El Sereno is no longer the small sleepy little place. and neither are the rest.. I hope this helps you understand. I go to church in El Sereno. The Rev. Manuel Chacon.

  5. I was informed of some of the details posted here and I shared other details with the author of this article. It has been an intersting decade of research, where unbelievable facts have been discovered and many shared. There are some of the most impressive and telling facts, that provide people, dates, City Council files, photos and maps that recognize our community that is now blooming into a GEM for Los Angeles.
    Much of the objection comes from very few, who are not satisfied with history. The same history that the Library of Congress has recorded. If you dont believe me and dont believe our Nations Honorable Library, then no truth is good enough. Thanks a million to the Rose Hills supporters, and thanks a bunch to those opposing for validating our existance.
    I would like to clarify something for the readers and the Author. I did take the photo above including one other, and am the only person that has shared them to this date. My concern is the wording, of them being removed. The legal term is vandalized, since they were ‘stolen’, by those who object to them being up. I could even provide a date of the crime for those interested. Its not like the City took them down, the simple request is to have them replaced. There is no merit in the ‘waste of taxpayers money’, as some here have expressed in this case against the City.
    A grand victory celebration is deserving, I will be sure to invite ALL……..

  6. You hit it right on the head Sigh! There have been many neighborhoods renamed throughout all of LA. Yet I have never heard of lawyers having to be involved until now, thanks to the “historical society”! Do these “historical folks” not understand why people are lining up to rename themselves anything other than El Sereno? For the record: University hills, Hillside Village, Rose Hills, have all gone through the trouble of renaming, and distancing themselves from el sereno within the last few years or so. I go to el sereno only when I have to, and I truly understand why. To say el sereno has a blight problem is to say fat albert has a minor weight issue! Im sorry to say el sereno reminds me of T
    J just a lil bit!! Who the hell wants to live in an area like that? I say we empower these people to do whatever they have to do to better their circumstance!

  7. I used to love in El Sereno and the best thing I did was move out. Whatever improvements are made to the community they won’t remove the garbage that loves there. It’s. Terrible neighborhood.

  8. My wife and I just recently bought a house in the “Rose Hills” neighborhood and we’re glad Anthony is working so hard to get the signs put back up. History is history and it can’t be ignored. If there was an overwhelming desire by residents to designate the area as El Sereno then there would be a push for that. Like Anthony said, we have a small contigent that is working to thwart the efforts and it doesn’t seem to be working.

    Like “Johnny” said, people are lining up to distance themselves from the name of El Sereno, and for good cause. The Rose Hills area is very active in keeping the neighborhood clean and trying to restore and also redefine what Rose Hills means to the Los Angeles area.

    I just went to an nearby open house and the realtor told us that this area (Montecito Hts, Rose Hills, Hermon, etc) is the next hot spot. Whether you like it or not, gentrification is coming to the area. If your not a home owner then you might not understand but I want my property value to go up, I want the schools to get better, I want the crime to trend lower.


  10. From what I read here and on other posts, people are confused about the name itself. It is Rose hills or Rose hill?

    Everyone here calls it Rose Hill and everyone knows its part of El Sereno. If Rose Hill is part of El Sereno where exactly is Rose Hills?

    No one is lining up to leave, its only a pathetic few morons who are trying to make everyone believe they have supporters. But these people are so lost that they don’t even know where Rose hills is.

    Where does Rose hills “area” begin and where does it end? How would you know if you live in Rose hills if you don’t even know where it is?

    From what I remember there was never any Rose Hills signs, There was only one Rose Hills sign by Our Lady, but that was taken down years ago because residents didn’t care for Rose Hills.

    Just like then, the residents around Our Lady of Guadalupe and Rose Hill Rec Center are proud to be part of El Sereno.

    • I like “Rose Hill” without the “s” and it seems slightly more historically accurate. Also keeps out of Whittier cemetery Confusion!!!

      Like Anthony says, though, I’ve never seen a historical document or article that has Rose Hill “as a part of El Sereno…” El Sereno was Bairdstown as I have read, then changed its name soon after being annexed into L.A. Rose Hill has always just been Rose Hill. In the 1950’s an “s” was added, maybe to reflect multiple hills in the region. But since that cemetery got the jump on the Rose HillS name, I prefer calling us the Rose Hill community 100 percent!! –Bill

  11. For those here who may not be familiar with our community, I am sharing some data, archives, history, and a map of the area which will remain Rose Hills. El Sereno has its specific boundaries, and is the area officially annexed on June 10, 1915. El Sereno did not exist prior to that day, since recorded documentation proves and indicates it was Bairds Town prior to this date. It was not for another 2 years, that El Sereno got it’s name that is carried to this day. Rose Hills is recognized in City Files and named in English, for at least a decade before the 1915 annexation. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble here, but Rose Hills holds seniority above each of the local surrounding communities, since the records indicate that Rose Hills (Rosa de Castilla), is documented as being in the ‘Original Pueblo’ land grant certified in 1850.
    Prior to that date, Rosa de Castilla is the foundation of the Pueblo’s growth and development since 1776, (5) five years before the Pueblo was founded, claiming that Rose Hills (Rosa de Castilla) as the first and oldest community in the City. Today, Rose Hills is just a fraction of the once thriving landscape that is now being recognized as a ‘Gemstone’ (site of the ‘Official Pueblo’s North-East Cornerstone’). The maps linked in the Archived History of Rose Hills validate this point.


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