At its June 12 meeting, the City Council unanimously upheld the designation of the Teriton Apartments at 130 San Vicente Boulevard as a City Landmark, denying the appeal filed by attorney Rosario Perry.
The Teriton, a 1940s vintage garden apartment complex, was designated a City Landmark last November. The appeal of the designation was filed by Perry on behalf of the owner, Or Khaim Hashalom, a nonprofit religious organization. The owner, according to Perry, wanted to build a home for Jewish refugees on the Teriton site.
Perry presented an architectural consultant who stated that her research had shown the building to be “not noteworthy.” When she said that the Landmarks Commission’s findings were “subjective,” Councilmember Herb Katz asked her, “Aren’t your conclusions also subjective?”
Twenty-four supporters of the designation spoke before the Council, many of whom were Teriton residents. They ranged from octogenarian journalist Kit Snedaker to an 11-year-old who said the Teriton was “fun” to live in.
The Council was also presented with a report from City staff that found the Teriton worthy of designation under two of the five criteria originally cited by the Landmarks Commission, Criterion 1 (“elements of the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the City,’) and Criterion 2 (“aesthetic or artistic interest or value”).
Perry was allowed several minutes of time for rebuttal to the comments in support of the designation. He warned that it would set a bad precedent to use the landmarks ordinance to simply save buildings. “Any building that’s over 40 years old could be called a landmark.” He also refuted the opinions of many supporters that one of the Teriton’s unique features was its “pinwheel” or zigzag layout. “It doesn’t look like a pinwheel. What it looks like it is a convoluted swastika.” This comment was met with boos from the assembly, and Mayor Richard Bloom asked them to quiet down. Mayor Bloom told the Mirror, “Mr. Perry’s comment was reprehensible and offensive. He should be ashamed of himself and owes the community an apology for his profanity.”
Councilmember Pam O’Connor began the discussion by saying that “historic preservation is not an exact science.” She felt that the Landmarks Commission had possibly overextended its reach by designating the Teriton under five criteria when one would have been enough. But she made a motion to deny the appeal, which was seconded by Councilmember Kevin McKeown.
McKeown, who is Council Liaison to the Landmarks Commission, said that the Teriton possessed “an optimistic post-war egalitarianism,” as an apartment house that brought some of the luxury of private ownership to those who could not normally afford it.
Bob Holbrook added: “I’ve become convinced. We’ve heard from 24 people about this.”
The Council voted to uphold the designation as per the two criteria cited by the City staff report.