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Unbroken Will

Community activist Miki Jackson heard a loud crashing noise in the front part of her Highland Park home. She found that a rock had shattered the stained-glass portion of a large leaded-glass window of her 1938-era house.

It was about half past midnight on June 5. While waiting for police to arrive, Jackson, who is a founding member of the Save the Van de Kamp‘s Bakery Coalition, received a phone call. The male caller asked if Jackson had inspected her house, and then referred to the Van de Kamp’s property at San Fernando Road and Fletcher Drive.

”Stop messing with other people‘s property interests,“ said the caller, who refused to identify himself. ”Leave the bakery to people who know what to do with it if you don’t want more damage to happen.“ The phone call was noted as a terrorist threat on the police report.

Ralph Cimmarusti, whose Lucia Properties company hopes to develop a Lowe‘s home-improvement store and a Burger King on the bakery site, says he does not condone the action: ”I honestly don’t know anything about it. I don‘t think you tamper with someone’s personal life or their family.“

Jackson recently spoke out against the project at a public hearing on the matter, which required her to sign in with her name and address. The plan is to demolish the bakery, built in the 1930s, which is City Historic-Cultural Monument No. 569. Cimmarusti, along with his brother Larry, owns and operates 140 Burger King fast-food restaurants and some Tony Roma‘s franchises.

When asked if one of their employees who attended the public hearing may have become overzealous, Cimmarusti said, ”We don’t communicate things like that to our employees. If the project is denied, we‘ll walk away gracefully. If it’s approved, we will try to be the best neighbors we can be.“

However, noting that emotions were running high at the hearing, Cimmarusti remarked that people were angry that the project was being held up, and said, ”If someone did throw a rock through her window, I don‘t blame them one bit. If the coalition succeeds, the neighbors are stuck with the same eyesore. I feel sorry for them.“

Jackson said she has continued to receive hang-up phone calls: ”Intimidation tactics are not an effective way to deal with these situations. In many cases, they only redouble people’s determination.“

A decision on a zoning change needed for the project will be announced at a hearing on Thursday, July 13, at 9:30 a.m., at 221 N. Figueroa St., Room 1500.


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