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Palisades Park Becomes Landmark:

The Santa Monica Landmarks Commission has voted to designate Palisades Park as a City Landmark and Landmark Parcel.

The decision had the support of City staff and of the City’s Recreation and Parks Department. The Commission took time, however, to go over the findings and criteria involved, in order to draft language that would protect features of the park while allowing flexibility for park maintenance and improvements.

The Landmarks Commission filed an application to designate the park on October 9, 2006. At the June 11, 2007 meeting, a hearing on the park was postponed to allow more time for review. A revised Landmark assessment report and staff report were distributed to the Commissioners in August. This gave the City’s Recreation and Park Department time to review the analyses.

Before the vote at Monday night’s meeting, Commission Secretary and Associate City Planner Roxanne Tanemori gave a presentation about the history of Palisades Park. Built in 1892, along the edge of the bluffs (or palisades) above the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier, the park contains many features that contribute to its landmark potential. These include a variety of trees, lampposts, benches, paved walkways and monuments such as the statue of St. Monica, built as a WPA (Work Projects Administration) project in 1935, the Camera Obscura and Senior Center, cannons, the Jones Memorial Seat, (commemorating one of Santa Monica’s founders), a Redwood pergola and a rose garden. These features were built or planted prior to 1957. Other features built after 1957 (the fifty-year cut-off date) may be considered as potential landmark contributors in the future.

In formulating the designation language, the Commission paid attention to staff guidelines and the concerns of the Recreations and Parks Commission, in order to clarify the contributing features, to evaluate the park on the basis of the six criteria for landmark designation, and to formulate a regulatory review program which would allow exemptions from the Certificate of Appropriateness for ordinary park maintenance.

The park was designated under five of the six criteria, along with language that provided for a reassessment of the park every 10 years, for direction to staff to prepare the regulatory review, and to discuss the review at a joint session of the Landmarks Commission and the RPC.

In other actions, the Commission reviewed proposed demolitions. Three buildings in downtown Santa Monica, at 1550 5th Street, 1554-1558 5th Street and 417 Colorado Avenue, all scheduled for demolition, seemed to constitute a potentially unique section of the downtown area. These buildings had been built and used as Buick auto dealerships and service centers, dating back to 1928. According to information supplied by a speaker during public input, the buildings may have an association with aviation pioneer Waldo Waterman, who built a flying car, the “Aerobile.” The Commission moved to continue the three items pending further information on the history of the buildings.

The Commission also moved to continue action on a building at 829 Broadway, described as a Quonset hut (a pre-fab semi-cylindrical building type used extensively during and after World War II), pending further information.

A single-family residential house at 315 Palisades Avenue was nominated for designation, despite a preliminary assessment by City staff that concluded the building’s potential for designation had been compromised by additions. Two Commissioners sided with the staff in their vote; four Commissioners voted to file the application.

No action was taken on the following demolition applications: 612 Colorado Avenue; 1050 Centinela Avenue; 943-945 16th Street; 2331 5th Street; 1024 23rd Street; 2327 5th Street; 819 Broadway; 1451 Lincoln Boulevard; 1453 Lincoln Boulevard; 2642 2nd Street.

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