At the Ocean Park Library earlier this month, community members met with the owner of the property at 2001-2011 Main Street, which houses the Horizons/Zephyr surf and skate shop, to discuss the planned multi-use project for the site, as well as methods for commemorating the site’s cultural history.
Juli Doar, granddaughter of Lewis Herrmann, who has owned the building since 1958, wants to build a complex of rental units with retail space on the ground floor. The building would include only 14 units, even though “we were allowed to do 30,” she explained. Doar also wants to build the project using sustainable materials and solar heating, and is aiming at having the building become the first privately owned LEED certified “green” building.
Doar and local activist Abby Arnold, who remarked that she’s “the mother of a skateboarder,” asked the attendees for their thoughts on the project and ideas about commemoration/preservation of the surf shop, site of the origins of contemporary skateboarding and the Z-Boys skate team.
Doar told the attendees that she had put in for a demolition permit for the site, but when the signs went up on the small stucco corner building, there was such a reaction from the surf and skateboarding community around the world that she withdrew the demolition application pending dialogue with the community on how to preserve the cultural history of the site while still being able to go ahead with her project.
Among the ideas mentioned were: making space within the new project for the surf/skate shop and also for artist studios (artist John Baldessari has his studio in the back of the present building); include a skateboarding memorial in the new building; create the ambiance of the “beach area” in the new building; construct a skateboarding park near the new building, or even on the property itself; and create a trail in the sidewalk leading to a nearby skate park.
The skateboard park drew especially favorable reactions because, as two young boarders at the meeting pointed out, there are not enough good places to skate in the immediate area.
Jerry Rubin drew some laughter with the suggestion that a skate park be located on the roof of the new building. On a serious level, he said that he supported Doar’s project and the skateboarding memorial. “I think we have a win-win solution here,” he said. “We can preserve [the cultural history] but do something positive environmentally.”
Jacob Samuel, a longtime surfer, local resident and Main Street business owner, was not so positive in his reaction. He pointed out that Main Street used to have numerous artists studios, of which only Baldessari’s remains. Decrying the movement toward bigger and denser development on Main Street, he said, “The corner of Main and Bay is the last vestige of beach culture in this city. I’d like to see it remain as it is.”
Doar responded by reiterating that her project is scaled down considerably in size from what it might be and that she is concerned with saving not only cultural history but also the planet itself. “We have to take a stand,” she said. “We have to hope that there is an environment in 100 years.” Her hope is to inspire other developers to build green residential/retail projects by proving the economic viability of such projects.