At its first meeting of the new year, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission denied approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness for reconstruction of a brick wall on the porch of a residence in Hollister Court at 2402 4th Street, which contributes to the Third Street Historic District.
The consideration of the Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) had been continued from the previous month’s meeting at which Commission members, after hearing that the brick work had been done before the Third Street Historic District Homeowners Association had approved of it, heard complaints from residents of the Court who said the brickwork was incompatible with Landmark and Third Street District guidelines. The Commission continued the item in order for the owner, Tammy Cameron, to investigate staining procedures that would make the bricks more compatible with the brickwork of the other units.
Cameron claimed that she was unable to find companies on the West Coast who can do the staining work requested by the Commission. She also apologized for what she claimed was her “ignorance” of the Commission’s guidelines. Speaking before the Commission, Cameron said that the neighbors had “misrepresented” her project.
Cameron had added to the height of her front porch wall, also using brick in speckled black and white that had what was described as a “faux-distressed” look. A neighbor who spoke in Cameron’s defense said the faux “aged” look had been suggested to Cameron by her contractor.
The Commission found that the replacement bricks, the height of the wall and the overall style of the wall were not in accordance with their guidelines. They unanimously voted to deny a C of A to the replacement project. Commissioner John Berley noted “a C of A should not come before the Commission before the work is done.” Senior Planner and Acting Commission Secretary Elizabeth Bar-El added that the next step is for the inappropriate reconstruction to be removed and for a new plan to come before the Commission for approval. However, an appeal of the Commission’s decision can be filed within the next 10 days.
In a related matter, the Commission also discussed revisions to the guidelines for the Third Street District, which they felt did not have enough clarity. A subcommittee consisting of Commissioners John Berley and Ruth Shari was formed to work on refining the guidelines.
The Commission also discussed the possibility of amending the City’s Municipal Code or City Charter to allow condominium conversions of multi-residential Landmark buildings. Commissioner Roger Genser felt that this option might be an incentive to landlords to keep them from demolishing multi-unit housing. He also admitted that the proposal will be “difficult politically” because Santa Monicans are staunch supporters of tenants’ rights and those tenants who cannot afford to buy their apartments must be considered. Genser agreed to do more research on the idea and report back to the Commission.
In other actions, the Commission approved two Certificates of Appropriateness, for on-site relocation and a 148-square-foot addition to a building in the Third Street Historic District at 2617 3rd Street, and for a 769-square-foot addition to a non-contributing residence at Hollister Court, 2402 4th Street, number 15. A Certificate was denied to a proposed design for a single-family residence at 2646 2nd Street, which also lies in the Third Street District.
No action was taken on the following demo permits: 1837 12th Street, 1843 12th Street, 1255 24th Street or 633 7th Street.