West Hollywood Preservation Alliance

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

WHPA Urges Local Designation of Historic Properties at 7900-7906 Santa Monica Blvd. and Fairfax Ave.

The two Classical Revival style-buildings at 7900 and 7906 Santa Monica Boulevard have stood for nearly a century, not only maintaining their architectural integrity but also continuing to reflect the history of West Hollywood’s commercial and economic development. And the corner building prominently features a distinctive four-sided clock that reminded travelers of the passage of time as they traversed what was then known as Crescent Junction along the Pacific Electric Railway Line.

These two properties are already listed on the California Register of Historic Resources and are considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance has reviewed the nomination documents and urges the Historic Preservation Commission at its May 22 hearing to approve city staff’s recommendation that the City Council bestow local cultural resource designation on these two very significant “Main Street-style” properties. It’s about time.
–WHPA Board Members Judson Feder, Susana Miller, Roy Oldenkamp, Victor Omelczenko, Jon Ponder

WHPA Raises Concerns about Adverse Effects of Proposed Seven Story Building Next to Historic Church

Proposed building at 910 N Wetherly Drive

Proposed building at 910 N Wetherly Drive

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance looks forward to a robust discussion regarding whether the locally designated First Baptist Church will experience a “substantial adverse change” as described in the staff report on Page 5 (of 5). This report further states that “Such a change is defined as a physical demolition, destruction, relocation, or alteration of a resource or its immediate surroundings (emphasis added).

The staff report indicates that “There will be no physical demolition, destruction, relocation or alteration of the First Baptist Church …” but consideration should be given to the church’s immediate surroundings because they will certainly be altered by the new development.

The historic assessments provided as exhibits indicated that the home next to the church at 910 Wetherly is not eligible for designation. However, when the church received local cultural resource designation in 1993, the 1923-built home next to it was located on the same large parcel of land, thus being within the church’s immediate surroundings and including landscaping and trees which would be permanently lost.

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WHPA Reiterates Support for Designating 7900-7906 Santa Monica Blvd. and Its Historic Clock

Fairfax Clock

Historic clock at Fairfax and Santa Monica Blvd.

Thank you, City Council, for having had the owner of this distinctive property — with its historic clock — notified of your intention to initiate the local cultural resource designation process.The WHPA stands ready to collaborate with all parties involved to come to a conclusion embraced by the community at large.

–Victor Omelczenko, WHPA Board President

WHPA Urges City to Conduct Residential Housing Survey before Passing SB-9 Ordinance

Google satellite view of Betty Way in West Hollywood

Google satellite view of Betty Way in West Hollywood

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) is concerned that SB-9, known as the California HOME Act, may very likely impact future potentially designated historic cultural resources in West Hollywood. Specifically, the city has never completed an R-1 historic survey of its residential zones that include the subsets R1A, R1B, and R1C.

The WHPA requests the city to initiate a Single-Family Residence/Duplex survey as soon as possible and postpone enacting the final zoning map modifications until survey completion and analysis and identification of potentially significant historic properties/districts.

Since SB-9 bypasses any CEQA requirement, it is particularly important that West Hollywood have a full reckoning of all R-1 structures before those found as possibly historic become compromised by additional building construction. WHPA is very concerned about the possible loss of historic integrity according to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards.

As added by SB-9, California Government Code Section 65852.21(b)(2)(A) states:

The local agency shall not impose objective zoning standards, objective subdivision standards, and objective design standards that would have the effect of physically precluding the construction of up to two units or that would physically preclude either of the two units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area.

However, subjective standards — including postponement until an R-1 historic survey is completed and potentially historic properties identified — are not specified as prohibited, and in fact allow for a development moratorium AFTER approval of the tentative map. {This allows the option to approve the tentative map while commissioning a housing survey and reviewing results for up to five years, if needed).

As amended by SB-9, Section 66452.6(b)(1) of the California Government Code has been amended to read:

The period of time specified in subdivision (a), including any extension thereof granted pursuant to subdivision (e), shall not include any period of time during which a development moratorium, imposed after approval of the tentative map, is in existence. However, the length of the moratorium shall not exceed five years.

We urge the City Council to commission an R1 Single-Family Residence/Duplex survey as soon as possible so we can identify our neglected historic properties before they are irrevocably altered and compromised.

WHPA Supports Council Effort to Designate 7900-7906 Santa Monica Blvd. a Local Cultural Resource

7900 Santa Monica Blvd.

7900 Santa Monica Blvd.

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

The Classical Revival style-building at 7900-7906 Santa Monica Boulevard has stood for nearly a century. This building not only maintains its architectural integrity but also reflects the history of our city’s commercial and economic development. And, the building prominently features an impressive clock which projects from the corner at the mezzanine level and which used to remind travelers of the passage of time.

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) thanks Councilmember John Erickson for initiating this effort to designate the building as a local cultural resource and urges the Council to begin the process by supporting the resolution in Agenda Item 5.A. at your May 2 meeting.

The WHPA thanks you for initiating action items that support historic preservation and stands ready to work with all parties involved.

–Victor Omelczenko, Board President

Letter from WHPA Board President in Support of Designating Great Hall/Long Hall a Local Cultural Resource

Great Hall-Long Hall dedication in 1938

Great Hall-Long Hall dedication in 1938

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

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) is grateful to Mayor Lauren Meister for initiating the effort to designate Great Hall/Long Hall and Fiesta Hall as local cultural resources and urges the Council to begin the process by supporting the resolution in Agenda Item 5.B. at your May 2 meeting.

Built as the Community Clubhouse in Plummer Park by the Works Progress Administration in 1937, Great Hall/Long Hall has already earned well-deserved listings on the National Register of Historic Places and the California State Register. And it’s time to make that a trifecta with a local cultural resource listing for this distinctive Spanish Colonial Revival courtyard building.

Across the way from Great Hall/Long Hall stands the younger Fiesta Hall, built in 1949 as an auditorium. The city’s 2016 survey found that Fiesta Hall is both an excellent example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style and is significant in the context of Postwar West Hollywood. It, too, merits local cultural resource designation.

The WHPA thanks you for initiating action items that support historic preservation and stands ready to work with all interested parties.

–Victor Omelczenko, Board President

WHPA Supports The Standard Hotel Local Designation

Thunderbird Hotel, 8300 Sunset Blvd., most recently known as the Standard Hotel

1960s postcard depicting the Thunderbird Hotel, 8300 Sunset Blvd., most recently known as the Standard Hotel

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) urges the Historic Preservation Commission to affirm city staff’s recommendation to support local cultural resource designation for the property located at 8300 Sunset Boulevard. The WHPA concurs with the findings of applicant Steven Luftman and the organization Save Iconic Architecture regarding this mid-century masterwork.

Formerly known as the Thunderbird Inn and most recently as The Standard, this property retains all seven aspects of historic integrity as defined by the Secretary of Interior Standards for historic preservation. Few structures in our city and adjacent areas retain this much integrity, showcasing a style that is emblematic of a vital and creative Southern California typology.

WHPA understands that there has been a request to delay the HPC’s vote but we believe that such a designation at this time should be considered as a buyer’s incentive. The purchase of an historically designated property could receive valuable tax benefits and major rehabilitation funding in coming years.

The preservation community has learned from past experiences that delays seldom benefit an historic resource. We urge the HPC to recommend to the City Council that it designate 8300 Sunset Boulevard as a local cultural resource in West Hollywood by approving HPC Resolution 22-158 at tonight’s hearing.

WHPA Working with Betty Way and Greenacre Avenue Neighbors on Preservation Opportunities

On March 17, the WeHo Planning Commission will consider upzoning these two historic cul-de-sacs — the last streets in West Hollywood zoned only for single-family homes. The homes retain fine integrity, still conveying the periods in which they were built – the late 20’s for Betty Way’s Spanish bungalows and the early 40’s for Greenacre’s pre-suburban style homes.

‘Save Our Neighborhoods’ Flyer

For more information, see this flyer, “Save Our Neighborhoods: Save Greenacre Ave & Betty Way from SB 9 Lot Splitting!” [PDF].

Top: Greenacre Avenue; bottom: Betty Way (Google Street View)

Top: Greenacre Avenue; bottom: Betty Way (Google Street View)

Recent Media Coverage

Beverly Press/Park La Brea News: “Recently, the West Hollywood Planning Commission has considered opening the city’s few remaining cul-de-sacs with single-family homes for development, which has caused concern amongst community residents. Greenacre Avenue and Betty Way are two streets under review. According to Greenacre resident Michael S. Poles, the two streets are ‘the last remaining [in West Hollywood] zoned solely for single-family homes.'”

WEHOville.com: “WeHo’s few remaining cul-de-sacs may be opened up for development, possibly squeezing out the historic single-family homes that currently stand there. The Planning Commission is looking at rezoning Greenacre Avenue and Betty Way to allow owners to subdivide each single-family lot equal or greater than 2,400 square feet into two lots. They can then have two dwelling units on each site.
The move is in response to California Senate Bill 9, which gets rid of R1 single-family zoning. California has told WeHo it needs to add another 4,000 residencies by 2029.”

WEHOville Op/Ed by Michael Poles: “Greenacre was developed from a Japanese Nursery by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and subdivided into some thirty-six (36) homes that maintain a unique low-density residential street for families to prosper. Eighty (80) years of history that is about to be eradicated with newly up zoning and the splitting of single-family homes where families thrived for more than eight (8) decades. ”

Video of Drive down Greenacre Avenue

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


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