The History of the Brookside Homeowners Association
The Association was formed in the fall of 1978 by a group of homeowners living south of Wilshire who became alarmed about various proposals being made for zoning the mostly undeveloped property along Wilshire Boulevard Highland and Wilton known as the “Park Mile.” It seemed very likely that the single family homes in the area would be seriously affected by relatively unrestricted commercial development along Wilshire especially on the south side where height and density regulations would be greater than on the north side of Wilshire. Concerned homeowners met informally and agreed to distribute a notice inviting residents south of Wilshire to join in forming a homeowners association as a means of taking action to protect the neighborhood. A meeting of approximately 75 homeowners was held at John Burroughs Junior High in the fall of 1978. The following action was taken as a result of that meeting:
- A homeowners association was formed to be bounded by Wilshire Boulevard, Olympic Boulevard, Highland Avenue, and Muirfield Road.
- The name “South Brookside” (later shortened to Brookside) was selected because of a natural stream, Rio del Jardin de las Flores, (River of the Garden of Flowers), which flows year round from the Hollywood Hills south between Highland and Longwood.
- This association elected to become an affiliated member of the Wilshire Homeowners Alliance which, at that time was composed of six homeowners associations including Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Fremont Place, Oxford Square, and Ridgewood-Wilton, for the purpose of drafting and enacting a Park Mile Zoning Ordinance to protect the adjacent single family homes.
- The association elected a president of the Brookside Homeowners Association and representatives to the Executive Committee of the Wilshire Homeowners Alliance.
How this came to be is a fascinating chapter in city planning filled with restrictive covenants and constant controversy over how the area between Wilton Place and Highland Avenue would be developed including serious consideration making Eighth and Sixth one-way streets, cutting Eighth through Fremont Place, zoning all property between Eighth and Sixth Streets as commercial, and, finally, making a high rise miniature “Rockefeller Center” on the blocks between Rimpau and Tremaine. The mile between Wilton and Highland turned out to be a developer’s dreamland and a nightmare to the surrounding single family homeowners.
So controversial was the matter and so high were the vested interests of developers and homeowners in the outcome, the overall 1970 Wilshire District Plan omitted zoning the area along Wilshire bounded by Highland, Wilton, Eighth, and Sixth Streets, which came to be known as the “Park Mile.”
By the spring of 1975 Councilman Ferraro had appointed a Citizens Advisary Committee to make recommendations on zoning. However, before it could conclude its task, the only two organized homeowners associations in the area, Hancock Park and Windsor Square, were challenging its recommendations as detrimental to the single family residential character of the area, and were beginning to form a new organization known as the Wilshire Homeowners Alliance to develop and support zoning regulations acceptable to the adjacent homeowners.
Many of the south-of-Wilshire residents were aware of these developments and were especially dissatisfied that the Community Advisory Committee was considering lower heights and less density on the north side of Wilshire than on the south side of the street. However, there was no organized homeowners association south of Wilshire to represent us. Therefore, many concerned residents passed out handbills in the area south of Wilshire asking that homeowners attend a meeting in September of 1978 at John Burroughs Junior High School to form an association and to join in the newly- established Wilshire Homeowners Alliance. In 1979 South Brookside was registered as a geographic entity with the City of Los Angeles to join neighborhoods bordering Wilshire Boulevard in formulating the Park Mile Specific Plan. The word “South,” which was later dropped, was used to emphasize that our organization represented residents south of Wilshire. This Plan was adopted in November of 1980 as the Ordinance defining the zoning in the Park Mile.
Considering the opposition encountered from developers and property owners along Wilshire, no one believed that an organization made up of neighborhood associations could succeed in obtaining a zoning ordinance for commercial property designed primarily to protect and enhance the adjacent single family homes by such provisions as low density use of land, a three-story height limit on Wilshire boulevard, adequate off-street parking for new construction, prohibition of retail sales establishments, mandatory landscaping, and, among many other features, a Design Review Board as part of the City Planning Department to assure compliance. It was, indeed, a radical concept in city planning, and has become a model for many other communities. Since the passage of the Park Mile Plan, Brookside has continued to be active in enforcement of the Ordinance. No variances have been granted although many are constantly sought.
The Brookside Homeowners Association has continued to remain active since its formation in conjunction with the Wilshire Homeowners Alliance focusing on issues such as the enforcement of zoning regulations and other pertinent topics.
The Brookside Homeowners Association is dedicated to maintaining this dynamic neighborhood of single family homes. We have a remarkable asset in a fast-changing urban community worthy of our best effort in dealing with the issues that threaten our way of life: crime, traffic congestion and parking control, zoning violations that turn single family homes into rooming houses or places of business, noise and trash pollution, assurance of adequate city services in tree pruning, trash collection, proper lighting, street maintenance, and all the other problems, big and small, that demand the attention of our elected city officials.
For many years meetings were held in the Brookledge Theatre, a 70-seat theatre on Longwood dating from 1921 when it was used as a showroom for a magic company. Later we met in the auditorium of Wilshire Elementary School located at 4900 Wilshire Boulevard three or four times each year. Guest speakers included our District #4 Councilman Tom LaBonge, representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department, and other city officials.
To promote and to celebrate the small-town closeness of our unique community, we hold summer block parties on a different block each year. We gain permission to block off the street from the residents of that block, and the Block Party Planning Committee plans events for the children including a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, plus arts and crafts. Everyone brings a potluck dish and is encouraged to bring a homemade dessert for the much- anticipated dessert contest. Musical entertainment usually includes a lively band. We have held silent and live auctions of items donated by Larchmont merchants and others in the neighborhood. The proceeds help fund this annual event.
Note: The history of Brookside Homeowners Association was written by our first president, Winifred Smith Rosenbaum, who tirelessly served in this capacity attending neighborhood, Alliance, and city meetings for more than ten years. Her successor, Owen Smith, has ably continued the tradition of representing the interests of Brookside here in our neighborhood and in our larger community.