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Landmarks Commission Saves Beach Cottage:

A late-19th century beach cottage, scheduled for demolition, was nominated for landmark designation at Monday’s Landmarks Commission meeting –thanks to the efforts of neighbors who pleaded for the building’s preservation.

The one-story cottage, dating from 1898, had previously been identified in the city’s Historic Resources Inventory as part of a potential historic district termed “Thematic Turn-Of-The-Century Grouping” but had not been designated as a potential landmark by itself. The property was originally owned by Leslie C. Brand, the businessman who developed Glendale and portions of the San Fernando Valley. It is speculated that cottage at 1012 Second Street may have been his summer home.

Representing the owner, who applied for the demolition permit, Howard Robinson argued that the building is in “poor physical condition,” that the property also includes a rear building that is “nondescript” and would not qualify for the landmark designation, that there needed to be clarification as to whether the building would be designated as a single entity or as part of a district, and that the Commission’s actions might cause difficulties for the owner.

The community members who spoke in support of saving the house cited the building’s HRI listing, its distinctive character and its historic connection to Brand. They also noted that the surrounding area is dominated by condominiums, so much of the character of the area has been lost to big development.

The Commission agreed with the neighbors and voted to nominate 1012 2nd Street as a parcel (including the rear building) at this time. The questions regarding the building’s contribution to a district and the designation of the rear building may be discussed when the topic comes up for discussion, probably at the September meeting.

Two other buildings slated for demolition, a single-family residence at 2402 Carlyle Avenue, and a warehouse at 626 Broadway in the downtown area, were also given temporary reprieves, as some Commissioners wanted more information on the conditions and histories of the structures.

The former Llo Da Mar building at 501-517 Wilshire, the façade of which has already been landmarked, was confusingly listed on the agenda as an applicant for a demo permit. The Llo Da Mar is an “adaptive re-use” project in which the building itself is to undergo extensive remodeling while the historic façade will be preserved.

When Commissioners asked why the project was again before them, Alan Freeman, representing the applicant, said that the Building and Safety department requires a submission of a demolition permit before an existing building can be taken apart for remodeling and that, in this case, more than 50 per cent of the building was to be demolished. It was therefore a procedural “wrinkle” that had brought the project back to the Commission. Freeman assured the Commission that a “shoring plan” was in place to protect the façade from destruction during the remodeling process.

A Mediterranean /Classical Revival-style residence, dating from 1913, at 331 Palisades Avenue received a designation. A representative for the owner stated that the owner was happy to make any necessary repairs to the building because he felt the house did have historical significance. The Commission stated its appreciation of the owner’s willingness to have his property landmarked.

In other actions, the Commission approved a statement of official action designating the Zucky’s sign at 431 Wilshire Blvd as a landmark, approved a certificate of appropriateness for temporary landscape elements for the courtyard area of City Hall subsequent to the demolition of the nearby old police station wing, and also approved a certificate of appropriateness for the moving of a sign and for the construction of a community bulletin board on the south elevation of the new Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier.

The bulletin board, which the architect intended to be vertical in form, was revised to be made horizontal, after Commissioner Nina Fresco made a plea on behalf of short people who would find it easier to read if it were horizontal.

During the time designated for public input, a speaker asked the Commission to do whatever it could to save the old RAND buildings from demolition, suggesting that the Commission might sue the City Council for calling for the demolition. As had been discussed the previous month, the Landmarks Commission was not able to intercede in the RAND matter, due to a 2002 development agreement between the City and RAND. At a later point during Monday’s meeting, the Commission discussed what to do in future situations in which the public and other commissions should have input before action is taken.

The City’s Roxanne Tanemori read a staff report that stated: ”A development agreement of this type with waivers of ARB and Landmarks is extremely rare…the city’s practice now is to provide early input when it involves a landmark property.”

City Council liaison Kevin McKeown said that the process in 2002 had been “very public” and that the draft EIR for Rand had been “widely circulated” and did include the information that the buildings were to be torn down.

But Commission members reiterated their belief that the public had not had a sufficient opportunity to speak on the question. Commissioner Barbara Kaplan suggested that the site might be a perfect place to erect a plaque or monument commemorating the former building’s history involving Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. The Commission agreed and will make a recommendation to the City Council regarding an on-site memorial.No action was taken on the following demolition permits: 125 Ocean Park Blvd; 1036 22nd Street; 478 21st Place; 1534 20th Street; 261 18th Street; 1502 7th Street.

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