Emptied Decades Ago and In Imminent Danger: Save The Maycrest Bungalow Court!

C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere

· 4 min read
Google Street View of 4215-4221 Maycrest Avenue, aka the Maycrest Bungalows, an eight-unit Tudor Revival bungalow court dating to 1925 and empty since 1991.

It's no secret that there are empty homes in El Sereno, South Pasadena, and Pasadena. CalTrans seized 460 of them in the 1960s, intending to demolish them all for a 710 freeway extension that never came (and that was officially canceled in 2018) and shamelessly displacing hundreds of residents. Some of the properties have tenants, but far too many of them remain empty.

The homes range from simple bungalows to the stately 113-year-old childhood home of Julia Child. CalTrans has been shamefully slow to release any of the empty properties to the market.

Of the hundreds of units bought, about half were in El Sereno, and 77 of them are empty.

On the off chance that anyone from CalTrans is reading this: People need those empty homes NOW. SELL THEM!


It is particularly egregious, to me anyway, that a stunning 1925 bungalow court has been withheld from the rental market for so long. The Maycrest Bungalows, a darling Tudor Revival court, are beloved by El Sereno locals, some of whom have been trying for years to work with CalTrans to turn them into a community center.

The court has eight units. Eight long-empty units that should have been used for housing for all these years.

While I don't object to the neighboring Eastside Cafe's goal of repurposing the court as community space (Eastside Cafe is also part of the El Sereno Community Land Trust), it would also be nice to see the court become homes for eight households again.

If you watched the news at all during the pandemic, you may already know about the Reclaimers, who assisted homeless or housing-insecure people with moving into those scandalously long-empty homes.

While I cannot advise squatting (which is illegal and risky), I get it. It's disgusting to withhold homes from the market when there are people who need them.

The Reclaimers were successful in getting HACLA to provide temporary housing in vacant but renovated publicly owned homes. But the key word there is "temporary" and those arrangements expired two years ago.

The Maycrest Bungalows finally came up for sale. You'd THINK they would have sold to someone who intended to restore them and return them to the rental market, or work with Eastside Cafe.

Alas, no such luck. HACLA bought them. And HACLA wants to demolish them.

The LA Conservancy has submitted a landmark application. El Sereno has almost no bungalow courts left (there are few in NELA, period), and it would be sad to lose this architecturally distinct one. Bungalow courts have long been an important source of existing affordable housing in LA, and will always be desirable to renters due to their combination of privacy and shared space. And Tudor Revival bungalow courts are very, very rare.

CalTrans tenants were told they would receive first refusal when their homes came up for sale. The last Maycrest tenant stayed until 1991. I very much doubt any of the former tenants were offered the chance to purchase all or part of the court.

Especially since, so far, CalTrans has only been auctioning properties to government entities and community organizations.

And we all know the government tends to have deeper pockets than community organizations.

The fix is always in, and it's Angelenos who suffer for the government's sins.

4215-4221 Maycrest Avenue, El Sereno.

Join the discussion!

C.C. de Vere

About C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere is a fourth-generation Angeleno. She is horrified at what greed and hubris are doing to Los Angeles.

This website was built by her preservation pals at Esotouric.

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