Sunday, October 23, 2016

What happened to Rigo’s Fence Company? An altar and unanswered questions fill the spot left behind by a Highland Park business

Altar to Barrio Urbanism | Photo by Nathan Solis

Altar to Barrio Urbanism | Photo by Nathan Solis Altar to Barrio Urbanism


Highland Park –  Street memorials are not all that uncommon in Los Angeles. Altars or memorials honor loved ones who have recently passed on, or sometimes they mark the scene of a recent tragedy. But one new  altar in Highland Park honors a family, a neighborhood and points a finger at gentrification and displacement. The Craftsman-style home at 5418 Monte Vista, now vacant, was once the home to Rigo’s Fence Company. In the yard sits an altar with pictures of a family, flowers, candles and other mementos.

A sign on the fence reads:

“Altar to Barrio Urbanism

We dedicate this altar to those that came before us. To our ancestors, loved ones who’ve crossed to the other side.
May the spirit of barrio ingenuity continue to live in this house and in this neighborhood.
No to the displacement of working class. RAZA!”

Rising rents and the new wave of residents in Highland Park offer little consolation to those who have lived here for generations. We can’t say for sure why the home at Monte Vista is vacant. RedFin has the 3-bedroom home listed as selling for $391,537 just last month. Rigo’s Fence Company sign is gone and a satellite dish sits on the roof. A neighbor mentions that Rigo’s is still in business, though no one answers the phone for the company.

Is this what gentrification looks like or is it a community mourning the loss of a longtime business?

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 Avenue Meander.


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  1. It’s probably vacant because the flippers who bought it haven’t gotten around to remodeling it yet. They’re probably finishing up another house first. Go gentrification!

  2. Just imagine if people were putting up signs saying “Long Live the White Race!”

    • They are when the “For Sale” sign goes up next to the horizontal slat fence.

    • “Raza” is simply Chicano-Mexicano vernacular for the poor and working-class people that typically populate barrios. It is originally derived from Jorge Vasconcelo’s description of the “cosmic race” that emerged from the intense intermixing of various races and ethnicities in the Americas that resulted in the demographic gringos commonly refer to as “latinos” or “hispanic”. Otherwise, anybody whose been educated in the U.S. has already been thoroughly indoctrinated with the “Long Live the White Race!” message, e.g., I certainly didn’t learn anything I’ve shared in this post in U.S. schools.

      • The word “gringo” is a racist slur. It would be like me using the word “beaner” in a comment.

        Just out of curiosity, what percentage of hispanics in LA are racist like you? Would you say most are, or are you just a minority? My neighbors seem cool, but you never know what gets said behind closed doors.

    • Or if people accused each other of not being white enough, or if there was a TV show called Whitish. As a sort of side bar, I am always hocked to hear people describing someone, derisively, as having gone “off the rez”.

  3. @nathan : This home was recently sold by the Mejia’s, who appear to own Rigo’s. Actually, Rigoberto was one of the listed owners.

    If you’re a home owner, as the Mejia’s were, gentrification cannot displace you. Your mortgage will not go up due to gentrification. Your property value may go up, but tax increases are severely limited by Prop 13, so you won’t get forced out that way.

    So, the Mejia’s were not displaced due to gentrification. They sold their home for one of a variety of other reasons.. like cashing in on the increased value of their home, got into financial trouble and couldn’t pay the note, decided they want to live somewhere else, etc.

    But, gentrification is not the reason here.

    Sounds like they are just trying to stir the pot.

  4. You`re supposed to make the “barrio“ a nicer and safer place to live…..not glorify it

    • “Barrio” is simply spanish for neighborhood. What is so wrong with honoring the people and places that people remember and cherish in their own barrio?

      • You are not honoring, you are trying to chase away those different than you. Putting eviction notices. One french restaurant opened and you are freaking out. We still have 100 Mexican restaurants and as many taco trucks and taco stands. I’m an immigrant and I love the variety of people, races, restaurants we have in LA. If I wanted to live just with my own kind I would move back to where I came from.
        Rigo’s has a Yelp review from 11/5 so they must still be around.

  5. This is a very curious altar. We don’t really know who put it up. Was it Familia Mejia or was it a neighbor mourning their move and the change in the neighborhood? Rigo’s was there for decades. Anyone who meanders will see their nameplate on the fences of Northeast LA, their departure here is significant.

    Thanks True Freedom for noting that this is an owner-sale and not an eviction. Which points out a much-ignored side of the gentrification issue: Gente selling out.

    • Yup, all of a sudden my longtime neighbors have all become real estate experts. Everyone’s waiting, watching…for the house across the street that just got put up for 599k to get sold for that or better so they can figure their own property worth. Considering the house was bought more than 20 years ago for less than 200k that’s a winning lotto ticket right there. And why not? Their kids are all grown and moved out long ago and aren’t moving back, so why not enjoy life a little. They were great neighbors and I’ll miss them, but I’m happy for them. And I hope they get their asking because I won’t make it on social security alone.

  6. I am Latino and have lived my entire life in northeast LA, and I welcome gentrification. Over the past decades the area had declined and in some ways resembles the third world conditions we escaped, I see gentrification as an improvement and a source for introducing diversity to the area.

  7. Rigo’s put up a gate across my driveway 26 years ago. I don’t know how long they were in business prior to that, but they were well established. Their mortgage should have been paid off years ago. They were by no means displaced by anyone. If anything, I’d guess retirement had something to do with it

  8. My little street in Highland Park has had over 10 property sales in the past 12 years. All the sales were owners cashing out and moving elsewhere with a fistful of money. I don’t think any of them were complaining. Now I’m the old one .

  9. Highland Park has been occupied by many demographics in it’s over 100 year history. My hill was predominately Italian in the 50’s. There was, until the late 70’s a predominate Asian community in these parts. Latino residents didn’t make up the majority until the last 30 years. Things change. Please leave the racial wars out of the conversation. Gentrification is a misunderstood term and too often becomes synonymous with white priveldge. I for one advocate the growth, both financial and cultural, of Highland Park. La Raza, indeed, to the human race.!

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