Going against both the advisement of a City staff report and a warning from a representative from the property owner, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission voted unanimously at its November 13 meeting to designate the Teriton Apartments, 130-142 San Vicente Blvd., as a City Landmark.
The Commission chose to disregard a lengthy memorandum from the City’s historic resources consultant, PCR Services Corporation, which found the multi-family garden apartment complex didn’t meet any of the six criteria for landmark designation. The report mentioned the building’s unusual layout, a modified U-shaped “footprint”; its architect, Sanford Kent; its appearance as an example of the vernacular Modern style; its former tenants, who included criminologist Dr. Marcel V. Frym and, according to the testimony of several tenants, crime writer Mickey Spillane; and its location at the western end of San Vicente Blvd., but concluded that none of these characteristics were noteworthy enough to qualify the building for designation.
Commissioner Ruthann Lehrer echoed the comments made by of some of the Teriton’s residents, saying, “I too was very disappointed [with the PCR report]. It was a rehash of what we had before [the preliminary City staff report of the September 11 meeting]. The analysis was very superficial.”
Mention was made by a parade of speakers – most of whom were residents of the Teriton – of the building’s aesthetics, its location, which makes it a “gateway” building where San Vicente meets the ocean, the functionality of its design and the way the apartments feel like private residences within a community created by the courtyard plan.
The Commission moved to designate the Teriton under Criteria 1 (“elements of the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the City”); 2 (“aesthetic or artistic interest or value”); 4 (“architectural characteristics”); 5 (“work of a notable architect or builder”); and 6 (“established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood”).
Not enough evidence could be found to support Criteria 3 (“identified with historic personages or with important events in local, state or national history”).
A representative for the owner, Or Khaim Hashalom, a nonprofit Jewish organization, warned the Commissioners that designation would be an “illegal” act “because ownership of a property by a religious organization is protected from designation under government code Section 37361. The representative said that a lawsuit had been filed against the City of Santa Monica regarding the Teriton being nominated for designation and that an order had been filed in Federal Court to halt the proceedings of the Landmarks Commission. City Land Use Attorney Barry Rosenbaum said that the Federal Court had rejected the owner’s attempt to block the meeting.
In other actions, the Commission announced that the demolition permit for the one-story building at 2001-2011 Main Street that houses the Horizons West surf shop and Zephyr skateboard shop had been withdrawn, as the owner wants to pursue more research into the historic significance of the shops.
A single-family residence at 908 California Avenue, slated for demolition, was given a continuance pending more information on the building’s history and style.
The Commission also approved Statements of Official Action for the new lighting and design elements on the Santa Monica Pier, for landscaping plans and materials and color selection for the former Marion Davies Estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway and for designating a multi-family property at 423-431 Ocean Avenue.
No action was taken on the following proposed demolitions: 1702 San Vicente Blvd.; 935 25th St.; 424 16th St.; 1312 Lincoln Blvd.; 1036 22nd St.; 711 Colorado Ave.; 1514 7th St.; 2029 Olympic Blvd.; 1038 11th St.