Monday, October 24, 2016

York Boulevard: Land of boutiques and body shops



HIGHLAND PARK — York Boulevard in recent years has become the neighborhood hot spot for cafes, bars, and boutiques. But many people don’t go to York Boulevard  to get their coffee fix. Instead,  it’s the place to get their cars and trucks  fixed at garages with names like Bernie’s, Herbie’s, Sam’s and Ray’s. In fact, auto repair is a big business on York Boulevard, with more than two dozen shops in operation.

Some auto repairs shops have closed in recent years. The Dubini Import Auto Parts shop is now a juice bar; Highland Park Automotive has been vacant for more than a year as a rumored mixed use project is in the works for the property. But business, in general, has been good for the mechanics, body shop experts and other repairmen of York Boulevard, say some owners.

You can find a repair shop next to a gourmet donut shop, and buy auto parts a few doors down from bars and coffee houses. Next door to McGibbon’s Auto Body Shop is a rehearsal space for bands. The sound of music slowly drifts out, mixing with sanding machines and frame straighteners at the body shop that has been in business for more than half a century.

The York garage owners have witnessed the gentrification and changes in the neighborhood and relish the new clientele.


Located at the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 52, Bernie’s Transmission is front-and center to all the change in the neighborhood. “I see a lot more Yelp reviews on our page with the new people who have moved into the neighborhood,” said owner Leo Quiusky, who bought Bernie’s from the original owners more than 20 years ago.

When the economy was tanking in 2009, Quiusky said that he noticed the arrival of new businesses on York and the new residents in the area. Business at Bernie’s picked up after the recession with the help of newcomers and long-time residents, he said.

Down the street, Gary Papirian of Bussard’s All Pro Automotive Center said business has been steady at the business he opened about 20 years ago. Since he owns the property, Papirian does not have to worry about being pushed out by rent increases. He enjoys the new activity along York Boulevard, but wonders if any of it is just hype drummed up by real estate agents.

“The only people who suffer are the residents who have to pay a higher rent.”


While Papirian does not have to worry about a landlord raising his rent, he does have to contend with city inspectors looking for violations that come with fines. Once Papirian set up a tarp over a garage and was instructed to take it down immediately.

Viken Ouzounian purchased Don’s Automotive Repair from the previous owners sixteen years ago. Ouzounian went through extensive interviews before he was offered the chance to purchase the business that has been on York Boulevard for several decades.

Ouzounian welcomes certain aspects of York’s changing economic landscape, and he said he feels that his clients and property are safer now. Those clients range from working to middle class people, some local residents, but all customers nonetheless.

“We’re trying to make the best out of both worlds.”




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. Cars. Gross.

    Just like every road should be forced to have a bike lane, every Auto Repair Shop should be forced to have a section of the shop that is devoted to bicycle repair and bike culture. For example, “McGibbon’s Auto Body” could become “McGibbon’s Auto Body and Bike Repair.”

    • I’m a huge bike fan, but your comment is pretty lame.
      I’m happy to see a healthy mix of pretty and practical on York.

    • The reason it isn’t a bike repair shop is that there is not enough money in bikes. Smart aleck.

    • LA has and will never be a bike city. You want to ride your bike, go to the Rose Bowl and do laps there.

    • Sam’s auto has done a great job of keeping my car running. I’m happy to have a business like that right down the street. As for your bike comment, get a life. Stop being so focused on your own self obsession with less than 1% of the street users and try to be happy for someone else for a change.

      You know, there were plenty of bike riders in Highland Park before the hipsters came & messed up the streets & starting breaking all the laws. I watch bikers ride the wrong way down the street, ignoring stop signs and yeah, they’re ignoring the bike lanes to ride on the sidewalks because those painted on bike lanes are a joke & dangerous for kids.

      How about they bring our vehicle lane back to York & keep the traffic moving.

  2. Why have so many auto body shops in the middle of a residential neighborhood? There are quite a few on Colorado in Eagle Rock as well.

    • My guess is it might have something to do with the city engineering those streets for highway traffic flow? High speed streets don’t really encourage neighborhood circulation by foot, so you typically just get auto-oriented businesses (gas stations, drive-thrus, strip-malls with surface parking lots, etc.) Once you slow down the cars, and get people walking and cycling around their neighborhood, other types of business begin to look attractive (corner stores, cafe’s with outdoor seating, bars/restaurants that cater to locals, etc.) But of course much of this is limited/dictated by the zoning in certain areas.

  3. What’s the rumored mixed use going in at Highland Park Automotive?

  4. Juan our photo

    Look everybody! It’s a life lesson right in the middle of an article on the anti-gentrification eastsider!

    “Since he owns the property, Papirian does not have to worry about being pushed out by rent increases.”

    Wow! What a smart fella.

    • Most of these auto businesses will close shop in the coming years not because of rent increase but because market forces will change the highest and best use for the real estate. It will simply not make sense to operate an auto repair business in a high value commercial area. The incentive to sell the real estate and close the business will be too tempting. Sure the owner of the property benefits but the employees lose their jobs, more families are displaced and Latino flight accelerates. The gentrification cheerleaders should be careful what they wish for. Highland Park can quickly become white douchebag central.

      • Jim, must be difficult to live in Los Angeles being only able to see things in black and white.

        • Leave it to eastsideFarts to lapse into the old “black and white” paradigm. That is not even remotely the topic Jim is addressing in his post but rather the business and potential consequences of unregulated gentrification, i.e., right on point. The rest is somebody else’s insecurity/guilt/obsession.

          • What @Jim is describing is simply capitalism with a lowercase ‘c’ (with a racebaiting hypothetical sprinkled in at the end, for good measure.)

            But I am curious, what kind of regulations would you all propose?

          • How exactly does one “regulate” gentrification?

            I can’t to hear your self contradictory holier than thou answer.

          • Pooper Douche, you fail at reading comprehension once again. Jim posted, “Sure the owner of the property benefits but the employees lose their jobs, more families are displaced and Latino flight accelerates. The gentrification cheerleaders should be careful what they wish for. Highland Park can quickly become white douchebag central.”

            I simply called out his position: Latino vs. white “douchebags”. Are you sure you have a GED?

      • Martin Arredondo

        We already have a “big,dark,educated”douche bag named Proper Dos. Named after a shit WESTSIDE band from the 90s. Talk about insecure.
        Westside Dos,any timeline when Highland Park is going to be like the next Ferguson like you predicted? Still waiting.

    • That’s the difference between Armenians and Mexicans….

  5. News flash-
    There are many kinds if races moving into Highland Park. Should only the white people not be allowed? Blood tests? How would that work?

    News flash-
    There are minorities with educations and money nowadays and there are minorities who are investors. To say that people moving into Highland Park are only white is ignorant.

  6. It’s a regular cornucopia of knowledge here. I doubt many of the anti-bike people have ever been to another city in America let alone any European city , The anti-bike aggression which mostly lies within the Latino community or among recent immigrants is a flat out indication of the lack of education and life experiences.
    LA has the best weather in the nation and will become a bike city regardless of the the ignorant detractors whose core values are based around doing nothing to further the civic good of the community. Whether it’s citing “white hipsters” for the plight of their own bad choices or the defending of the antiquated gang lifestyle and style because it literally takes no effort to act like a thug and sound sophomoric repeating tired diatribes about “others” or “hipsters” or not being “culturally welcoming”.
    LA is not Mexican enough? There is a shortage of Mexican culture? It’s under threat? This is all so laughable in a city where the major latino radio station is actually called “THE RACE” …and white hipsters are racist invaders?

    To attack the Eastside as a anti gentrification news source also signifies your lack of comprehension skills as The Eastsider gains a great deal of its revenue from the publication of real estate listings, ground zero for gentrification.

    I bike 3 times a week because the other days I need to haul heavy material , I can see both side of the equation. there are asshole bicyclist and asshole motorist. Those who are real bicyclist or have been bicycling in other cities besides LA know to use the shoulder unless its dangerous, there are a great deal of bikers who take up whole lanes all the time because they suck, this can only improve if the city takes steps to provide a better system of lanes on less busy streets that follow the same path as main throroughfares.
    The statement to make car repair shops include bike repair is just stupid , fascist even. Ridiculous.
    Introducing bike friendly lanes and systems in other cities has proven to reduce healthcare cost and occurrence of type 2 diabetes. It also has shown to increase work productivity as well as community involvement through workshops and beautification events in parks surrounding bike paths.

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