Homeless Gardener Builds Hillside Estate Near Highway


On paper, this looks like a must-see property: a hillside home in Pacoima with white picket fence, views, art exhibits, and meticulous landscaping. It even has a built-in children’s slide.

But the hill that Jose Fuente, from Colima, Mexico, developed is actually part of a homeless encampment off Highway 118 at Glenoaks Boulevard. He takes great pride in using his gardening and landscaping skills to transform this once-filled with garbage encampment into a quaint home.

“People love it. I have people who climb the mountain to go and give him gifts, like he’s the Baby Jesus, almost,” said Nathaniel Padilla, owner of El Canelo restaurant in Pacoima, who is next to the camp.

“We have a great relationship with this gentleman,” adds Padilla. “Honestly, he never does anything to offend anyone, so we have no reason to call the police or anyone to kick him out of here. He helps us clean up our mall. keep it tidy for us. “

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José said no one had ever asked him to leave the hill or offered him accommodation, but that he would accept it if he did. In the meantime, he says that working the land brings him joy, and it makes him happy to know that his work makes others smile.

Caltrans provided FOX 11 with the following statement regarding the encampment:

  • “In accordance with CDC guidelines to prevent the community spread of COVID-19, Caltrans will clean up the camp if there is an immediate safety issue or threat to critical infrastructure.
  • We will continue to work with cities and other partners to move people to safer situations, as available.
  • Caltrans also continues to work with local agencies to provide those living in the settlements with available safer living resources in an effort to keep people and highways safe. “

FOX 11 also contacted LA City Councilor Monica Rodriguez, whose office responded in a statement:

“Site 118 and Glenoaks is one of the many locations that Caltrans neglected to maintain. To address the lack of coordination and effort to clear state right-of-way in her district, the councilor introduced legislation to quantify the responsibility for maintenance and the cost that our City endured when responding to emergencies on its right of way.

In the absence of their responsiveness, the municipal district staff carried out various maintenance services in the area around this place where we have jurisdiction. The Advisor continues to seek the cooperation and support of Caltrans to maintain their rights of way and to work with the appropriate agencies to coordinate services for homeless people living on state property. “

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