University Hills is nestled among shifting and swirling hills on a site that once housed one of California's 36 original adobes. It was built in 1776 by Franciscan missionaries and destroyed by a fire in 1908. These lands once were part of a Spanish land grant known as the Rancho Rosa Castilla, created by the family of Juan Batista Batz, a Basque rancher from northern Spain who settled the district in its early years. The inspiration for the name of the ranch, according to local historians, was the wild rose that once grew near the ranch home.
For much of its history, University Hills was considered an extension of El Sereno. However, in both built environment and socioeconomic conditions, it is very different from El Sereno. In response, the local homeowners association "seceded" from El Sereno in the 1990s. The increase in real estate activity in Southern California during the early 2000s has made University Hills, with its beautiful scenic views and central location, an attractive neighborhood for professionals seeking alternatives to the suburbs and the Westside.