Verdugo Views: How a protest saved Marion Drive's lampposts

The time was 7 a.m. The year was 1994. It was a Thursday morning and many who lived on Marion Drive on Adams Hill were still in their bathrobes.

Suddenly the early morning quiet was shattered as a truck roared onto the street. The residents knew why the truck and its crew were there: to take out, despite protests from residents, the old lampposts that had been installed when the area was developed.

“The city planned to remove them as part of its street-widening project on Marion Drive,” resident Rebecca Rees explained in a recent interview. “They told us the lights needed to be removed due to public safety, as there were concerns about the stability of the posts, and because newer lights would be more efficient.”

When she heard the trucks, Rees, with her 5-year-old son at her side, ran out to see what was going on. She met up with her close friend and neighbor Elizabeth Molo, who had been keeping the neighbors informed of the lamppost issue.

When the two women saw crews assembling equipment to remove the posts, they went into action.

“Elizabeth rounded up 30 neighbors for an impromptu protest,” Rees said. “Word spread fast and the street filled with people.”

“This was planned, they couldn’t just dig them up with a shovel,” she added.

Neighbors still in their pajamas came out with their children. “Elizabeth had made us all aware of the ongoing issue, and thought it was all settled, so we were shocked,” Rees said.

“Then other people, including someone from the Glendale News-Press, showed up,” Rees continued. “I was out there, six-months pregnant. I went into the garage and got a bike chain and its lock and key and when they weren’t looking, I quietly put it around my back and around one of the posts and locked it. I didn’t say anything. Once they saw me, it got very quiet; they backed away. They didn’t want anything to do with it.”

At some point in all the excitement, the mayor, Larry Zarian, showed up. “He was running down the street saying ‘everything is just fine. No need to do that!’”

Rees realized she had everyone’s attention and that all the action had stopped. “I said I wouldn’t unchain myself until the trucks left, so I stayed until the crew leader told them to leave.”

As the trucks left, everyone began cheering, and by late afternoon, the city had instructed the contractors to put the lamppost removal on hold. The project did eventually resume, with assurances from the city that the lampposts would be reinstalled.

Yes, old-style lampposts still stand on Marion Drive.

More on the story

The July 29, 1994 News-Press described the encounter on Marion Drive. According to a city official, “The city did inform Marion Drive residents that a road-widening project would begin on July 18, but neighbors claim the notice did not include any information about the lampposts.”

There were also concerns that the lampposts would be salvaged by the contractor and then sold for profit. Resident Margaret Hammond told the reporter that a city in Alaska and another one in California had lampposts that were once in Glendale.

A Public Service Department employee said, “Some cast-iron lampposts were sold to Ketchikan, Alaska, but there was not a major profit on any of those.” He said that the Marion Drive lampposts were concrete standards, as opposed to cast iron, and that he knew of no concrete standards that had been salvaged and sold.

George Ellison, recently retired from the Glendale Library’s Special Collections department, described the lampposts on Marion Drive as concrete with steel rebar inside.

“Some of them were in bad shape and replaced with replicas,” he said.


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