In a surprising move, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission voted for landmark designation of a one-story, single-family beach cottage at 2219 Ocean Ave.
The vote at the Commission’s August 14 meeting came in opposition to a City staff report that had recommended denying designation to the house because it did not seem to meet any of the six criteria for landmark status.
According to the staff report, 2219 Ocean Ave. was probably built between 1903 and 1909. It is described as a “massed plan vernacular cottage” of a type once common in older areas of the City. But the report said that properties on nearby streets are better examples of the style, that alterations have marred the structure’s integrity and that the house is not connected with historic personages, an important architect, or with cultural or historic events.
However, residents of the area, who submitted a petition with over 300 signatures in support of designating the cottage, expressed a belief that the house qualified under Criterion 6 (it has a unique location, a singular physical characteristic or is an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community or the City).
Jeff Gertz, one of the neighbors who circulated the petition, spoke before the Commission, pointing out that the house is “older than most of the palm trees in the area,” and that the house’s location on a west-facing street makes it visible from the ocean, a view that all tourists see. Other neighbors who spoke on behalf of the house praised its side-facing stained- glass window, which was not mentioned in the staff report.
Commissioner Ruthann Lehrer summed up the sentiment of the supporters: “This is unique. It’s a window back in time.” After it was decided that the cottage qualified under not only Criterion 6 but also Criterion 1 (it exemplifies, symbolizes or manifests elements of the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the City), and Criterion 4 (it embodies distinguishing architectural characteristics valuable to a study of a period, style, method of construction, or the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship), the Commission came up with a wording that reflected the application of the criteria to the house and voted for designation citing Criteria 1, 4 and 6.
Commissioner Ruth Shari expressed concern for the upkeep of the house if the owner (the University of Illinois Foundation) does not support the designation. But Lehrer reminded the Commission that their role is to make a decision based on the criteria at hand and that “landmarked properties attract owners who restore them.”
In other actions, the Commission voted to nominate for designation a single-family Craftsman-style house with Tudor influences at 501 24th St., and continued action on two proposed demolitions, a single-family residence at 435 14th St., and a multi-family residential complex at 1041-1047 17th St.
The Commission also examined a plan to install three public address speakers at two City Hall locations, which would be used to inform employees and the public in the event of an emergency. They approved the installation after making sure the speakers would not mar the integrity of the landmark City Hall building.
Certificates of Appropriateness were approved for the following projects: 415 Pacific Coast Highway (Marion Davies Estate); 200 Santa Monica Pier (the Carousel Building); 954 5th St.; 2323 5th St.; 1401 Palisades Beach Rd.; 2511 Beverley Ave.; and 238 Hill St.
No action was taken on the following proposed demolitions: 159 Fraser Ave.; 859 25th St., 1324 5th St.; 804 Navy St.; 2905 Pico Blvd.; 411 Lincoln Blvd.; 1808 San Vicente Blvd.; 1224 20th St.; 2202 Marine St.; 505 Olympic Blvd.