The Landmarks Commission again continued discussion on a proposed project on a designated property at 2617 1/2 3rd Street. The item was bumped to December’s meeting at the request of the applicant, who said that more time was needed to assemble materials for presentation.
The property at 2617 1/2 3rd features a vintage California bungalow which is a contributing structure to the Third Street Historic District. In the rear is a non-contributing structure, which the owner wants to remodel in a Modernist style considered inappropriate for the Historic District by many residents of the area.
The request for a continuance was announced right before the start of the November 12 meeting. The suddenness of the request frustrated many residents of the Third Street District who had come to speak on the issue. During the public hearing on items not on the agenda, several people complained about the last-minute continuance, but were told that it was at that point only a request for a continuance and that a decision had yet to be made. When the item for 2617 1/2 3rd Street came up, the Commission discussed procedure and decided to postpone the item to December 10 because the applicant was not present.
However, it was decided to let the residents speak because a large number of them were present and some of them might not be able to attend in December. Those who spoke at this hearing will also have the right to speak at December’s meeting, provided they speak in regard to the new material which will be presented at that time.
The residents who spoke were emotional in their opposition to both the proposed project and what they perceived as the Landmarks Commission’s inability to make a decision, as the project has been discussed and sent back to the architect for revisions several times.
Resident James Bianco told the Commission: “I’m fed up with this process and I’m fed up with you.” He explained that he had bought a house in the Historic District so that he could restore it to look as it had looked in 1906, and he did not want that vintage style challenged by a building that did not conform to the guidelines.
“If you want to be the design police, do it somewhere outside the Historic District,” said Bianco. “But if you really are Landmarks Commissioners, follow the guidelines!”
Another speaker, Corey Blechman, evoked the famous line from the O.J. Simpson murder trial: “If the house doesn’t fit, you can’t commit!”
The Commission also postponed action on the fate of the ficus trees on 2nd and 4th Streets. The continuance was requested by Treesavers and Jerry Rubin, who had obtained a nomination for designating the trees to protect them from removal under a City plan. The continuance was granted to the December 10 meeting, although Rubin had requested a continuance to February in order to prepare a detailed report on the qualifying features of the trees. Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson, representing the City, told the Commission that the City needed to have the designation action expedited quickly because of commitments to contracts to proceed with work on the downtown streets.
In other actions, the Commission considered designation for the former NuWilshire movie theatre at Wilshire Boulevard and 14th Street. The building, with its Art Deco façade and marquee, is to be converted to retail use by the owner, as Landmark Theatres, which operated the movie theatre until recently, has vacated.
Staff and consultants’ reports supported designation of the building under at least two criteria. The Commission decided to continue the item, however, in order to obtain more information on the architect for possible inclusion of the architect’s reputation as a criterion, and to create a more sharply defined list of character-defining features of the building.
At a separate meeting held prior to the regular meeting, the Commission heard a presentation on a plan to move the vintage Angels Attic museum building to Heritage Square on Main Street. The Commission will recommend to the City that if moved to the Square, the building should be positioned to face Main Street and that alternative sites for the building should also be looked into.