West Hollywood Preservation Alliance

To identify, protect and preserve the historic, architectural, and cultural resources of West Hollywood

WHPA Supports Appeal of 923-931 Palm Avenue Project

927 Palm Avenue (Ed Levin)

For the Public Record Regarding FOPA Appeal of 923 – 931 N. Palm Avenue Project
Item 3.B., West Hollywood City Council Hearing on April 19, 2021

Dear Mayor Horvath, Mayor Pro Tem Meister, and Councilmembers D’Amico, Erickson, and Shyne:

The WHPA asks that you support the appeal of the Friends of Palm Avenue (FOPA) and deny the proposed project because of its massing and height, its look and feel, and its impact on designated cultural resources. Future development on these three remaining contiguous parcels of land from West Hollywood’s historic Sherman era needs to be rethought and a full Environmental Impact Report conducted.

The WHPA believes this is not the right project currently because of serious concerns with the staff report’s reasoning on Pages 10-11 regarding Contention 7. In fact, the WHPA believes that this project does not conform to the Secretary of the Interior standards, especially regarding Standard 9: “New construction needs to be built in a manner that protects the integrity of the historic building(s) and the property’s setting…” (a historic building traditionally surrounded by open space must not be crowded with dense development).

The City Architect and planning staff stated in a report for the July 9, 2020, meeting of the Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee: “From a scale perspective, the building looms over the bungalows, mitigated in part by a step back element at the street facing front of the south leg. The form of the structure is a block mass and it is intended to serve as a backdrop to the historic bungalows.” [emphasis added}

“Looms” and “block mass” indicate issues with the massing and size of the new building as well as with its spatial relationships to the two historic bungalows. The building immediately behind 931 Palm is a four-story apartment building on Larrabee. The distance between that building and the back of the bungalows is 92.5 ft.

However, the proposed L-shaped building is only 10 feet from the back of the designated historic bungalows, further compromising the overall spatial relationships. In fact, the proposed building is 19 TIMES larger in square feet than the existing bungalows.

“Looms” and “a block mass” are not design terms that instill confidence in the preservation community. Let us preserve not only the historic structures themselves but also the last vestiges of the physical and spatial environment of Old Sherman. Please support the Friends of Palm Avenue appeal, deny this project, and request a new development proposal that respects our city’s history and the neighborhood.

Relocation of Gym Sports Bar Raises Concerns & Historic Opportunity

8919 Santa Monica Blvd. (WEHOville.com)

8919 Santa Monica Blvd. (WEHOville.com)

During this horrible pandemic when other LGBTQ+ entertainment venues and neighborhood-serving businesses have permanently closed, it’s good to know that Gym Sports Bar and Grill will soon be reopening at a new location in a building which has a place in West Hollywood’s cultural and architectural history. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) offers the following observations for the Tuesday, March 9, Director’s meeting regarding Item 4.A. 8919 Santa Monica Boulevard (Gym Sports Bar & Grill). The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and can be accessed on Zoom; meeting ID:96166511208

THE FACTS

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WHPA Once Again Urges City Council to Purchase Historic Log Cabin Property

Log Cabin Property on Robertson

Log Cabin Property on Robertson

For the public record and consideration during the City Council’s closed session on Monday, March 1, 2021, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance submits the statement below.

As it did during the January 21, 2020, closed session of the City Council, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) again urges the City of West Hollywood to purchase the two parcels of land at 617-621 North Robertson Boulevard. That purchase would help preserve the 2,000+ square foot historic log cabin building that has served the recovery community for many years

Such a purchase would also enable the city to plan for future community uses – perhaps permanent affordable housing or transitional/bridge housing to address the critical issue of homelessness? – on the remaining nearly 13,000 square feet of land that surrounds the building and currently serves as surface parking.

Furthermore, the fact that the city’s 2016 commercial survey considered the log cabin property eligible for historic designation not only on the local level but also on the California Register and the National Register attests to the property’s architectural, social, and cultural significance. It’s that rare “trifecta” of designations that few buildings can achieve.

And we certainly believe that the City Council can proactively initiate action to designate the log cabin as a local cultural resource.

It’s time to make a deal with the City of Beverly Hills and to purchase this precious land that comes with so much history and so much future potential use by the city and its residents.

City Council Votes to Fund Upgrades for Plummer Park

Plummer Park photo published by Beverly Press

Plummer Park photo published by Beverly Press

From Beverly Press:

The West Hollywood City Council voted on Feb. 16 to confirm the $9.5 million cost for upgrades to Plummer Park, setting in motion long-awaited plans to upgrade the historic park on the city’s eastside that could start with improvements to the halls and the addition of a dog park.

The item, which was approved unanimously without discussion as part of the consent calendar, directed staff to confirm the costs for the project using redevelopment bonds, while also asking staff to return with further direction.

The $9.5 million estimate includes $3.3 million for upgrades to the Great Hall/Long Hall, between $2.8 and $4.5 million for construction on Fiesta Hall, and between $385,000 and $510,000 for the addition of a permanent dog park area.

WHPA statement to the council on Plummer Park follows:

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Alliance Urges Planning Commission to Reject Palm Avenue Project

927 Palm Avenue (Ed Levin)

Preservation Alliance board member Susana Miller spoke to the West Hollywood Planning Commission on behalf of the board and Alliance members. Here’s what she said:

Good Evening, Commissioners. I am Susana Miller of West Hollywood speaking on behalf of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance on whose Board I serve —

Unfortunately, not much has changed during the past three years to lessen concerns that both the Historic Preservation Commission and the community have previously raised about the massing….the height…..the look and feel…. and the impact on cultural resources and on the environment of this project in our historic Old Sherman neighborhood.

The HPC first voted 4 to 1 to not recommend a certificate of appropriateness for the project. Then three years went by until this past July when the HPC’s 3-3 vote again resulted in no recommendation to you. Such lack of support is distressing and NOT alleviated by the findings in the resolution.
You should reject the resolution to approve the project because:

1. The proposed development does not meet the National Park Service’s guidelines on New Construction within the Boundaries of Historic Properties. Those guidelines say that new construction should not be permitted on the same property if the new construction would obscure, damage, or destroy character-defining features of the building or the site. Such new construction should not remove a landscape feature that is important in defining the historic character of the setting such as the vegetation and open space that have been present on the property since the days of Old Sherman.

2. Federal Standard 9 for Rehabilitation as a Treatment says that: Related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work should be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.
It’s important to note that the parcels of land upon which the two historic bungalows sit are themselves rare remaining examples of residential life ….on relatively large plots of undeveloped land that were typical in Old Sherman. WHPA believes that the setting has NOT been compromised as the resolution findings state.
Furthermore, a City Architect’s report for your Commission Design Review Subcommittees stated that From a scale perspective, the building looms over the bungalows… and the form of the structure is a block mass.

“Looms” and “a block mass” are not terms that instill public confidence. Let’s preserve not only the historic structures themselves but also the last vestiges of the physical and spatial environment of Old Sherman. Please do not approve this ill-conceived project.

WEHOville: The Death of Duff Bennett, Key Opponent to a Palm Ave. Project, Leads Planning Commission to Postpone Hearing on It

NOTICE: Due to the death of community leader Duff Bennett, the public hearing on this project has been rescheduled to Thurs., Nov. 19 at 6:30pm (participation instructions still to come). To see community reaction so far, go to correspondence links within Item 10.B. HERE [PDF]

WEHOVILLE: “With a unanimous vote Thursday night, West Hollywood’s Planning Commission delayed a hearing on a controversial senior living project on Palm Avenue for a month due to the sudden death of the project’s chief opponent.

“Duff Bennett, who has spearheaded opposition to the project for the past four years, died on Monday night after a sudden illness. Others opposed to the project petitioned for the continuance while they grieve Bennett’s death and regroup for their fight against it.”

WHPA Says New Palm Ave. Project Destroys Rare Vestiges of Historic Old Sherman Neighborhood

NOTICE: This project is set for a Planning Commission teleconference public hearing on Thursday, October 15, at 6:30pm. To participate, see instructions HERE [PDF].

Unfortunately, not much has changed to lessen concerns that both the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the community have previously raised about the massing, the height, the look and feel, and the impact on cultural resources and on the environment of this project in West Hollywood’s historic Old Sherman neighborhood. As such, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) recommends the Planning Commission take careful note of the HPC’s 3-3 vote on July 27, 2020, that resulted in a denial of a “certificate of appropriateness” for the project.

The WHPA urges the Planning Commission reject the resolution to approve the project because:

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Statement on Appeal of 8001-8003 Santa Monica Blvd. Cultural Resource Designation

8001 Santa Monica Blvd. before (left) and after

Dear Mayor Horvath, Mayor Pro Tem Heilman, and Councilmembers D’Amico, Duran, and Meister:

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) is disappointed that the City issued a building permit in 2017 for 8001-8003 Santa Monica Boulevard without considering that the building was identified by the City Council as being potentially eligible for cultural resource designation and required consideration under CEQA. This error may have resulted, at least in part, because the “Primary Record” for 8001-8003 Santa Monica Blvd., which was generated by the 2016 Historic Resources Survey, incorrectly identified the property as 1105 N. Laurel Avenue (an adjoining, non-historic building).

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Asleep at the Switch?

8001-8003 Santa Monica Boulevard – before the alterations

Regarding Item 8.A. on the Historic Preservation Commission’s (HPC) agenda for January 27, 2020, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) is quite dismayed with the recommendation that the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) REMOVE the building located at 8001-8003 Santa Monica Boulevard from the 2016 Commercial Historic Resource Survey’s list of potential cultural resources. There are already so few of these resources left in the city, and those that remain need particular care and attention.

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‘Historic WeHo’ Photo Exhibit at the Library Through October

Photo by Tony Coelho, from his Historic WeHo exhibit at the library

NOTE: The West Hollywood Library will be closed until March 31.

About the “Historic WeHo” exhibit:

West Hollywood’s heritage is a rich inheritance of traditions, attributes, and cultural resources. Architectural heritage includes much more than preserving, displaying, or restoring a collection of historic buildings. It is both tangible and intangible. Ideas, stories, and other elements of who we are and how we identify ourselves are essential to the understanding of our place.

Preserving West Hollywood’s architectural and cultural heritage is integral to the growth and identity of West Hollywood. Through historic preservation, we are able to tell stories of times that preceded Cityhood and of people, events, and ideas that embrace the vibrancy of our City.

The City of West Hollywood has recognized the importance of preserving its cultural resources since its incorporation as a City in 1984. The City adopted a Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1989 and has designated over eighty historic and cultural resources, including six historic districts.

In 2015, arts and planning staff began a project of documenting all of the City’s designated historic properties. This exhibition shows a selection of photographs from the over 80 properties that were documented by West Hollywood photographer Tony Coelho, representing a wide array of architectural styles and associations with well-known architects and builders. These images celebrate West Hollywood – recognizing our past, present, and future.

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