COMMENTS BY THE WEST HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION ALLIANCE

FOR THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION MEETING OF MARCH 15, 2017

ITEM 9.B. “LEXINGTON-CURSON RESIDENTIAL HISTORIC RESOURCES SURVEY”

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) was very pleased when the City Council supported the awarding of a contract last year to the firm Historic Resources Group (HRG) to prepare a historic resources survey of early 20th century residential properties on the city’s Eastside. It was about time to undertake such a survey. Even before our organization’s establishment five years ago, folks on the Eastside would oftentimes bemoan that their part of town seemed to be neglected.

But even before that, the Westside proudly embraced the designation of the Old Sherman Thematic Grouping of historic properties built between 1899 and 1907 that primarily housed workers at the Pacific Electric Railway. The homes in this grouping are representative of West Hollywood’s birth as a distinctive neighborhood, and the character of those homes evoke its modest beginnings. And right now, several of them are being fixed up while still retaining their architectural integrity in a new life as the San Vicente Bungalows/Hotel.

The homes in the Old Sherman grouping are not all next to each other — meaning they’re not contiguous — just like the 30 properties identified as contributors to a new thematic grouping on the Eastside are not all next to each other. Being contiguous is a requirement of a formally recognized historic district like the city’s famous Harper Avenue Historic District. Being contiguous is not necessary for maintaining a sense of place, a sense of time, a sense of cultural and architectural memory.

The WHPA truly appreciates the research and information presented by Historic Resources Group in the 19-page document accompanying the staff report that presents the history and importance of the area being considered for a thematic grouping. But we also appreciate the views of the owners and residents who have raised their concerns about this thematic grouping.

There seems to be some confusion and misunderstanding reflected in some of the comments and views expressed in the attachments to the report. Some commenters appear to think that their apartment buildings and homes are part of or subject to the thematic grouping, but they are not as far as we’ve been able to determine. And still others are concerned that this grouping will result in regulatory intrusion into their lives.

We might benefit greatly if we were to receive input from some owners of properties in the already established Old Sherman Thematic Grouping or the Courtyard Thematic Grouping or the Plummer Park Grouping. Questions still abound and that’s why we’re all here tonight. We all deserve to hear and listen to one another. The conversation has just begun. Before sending this matter on to the City Council for its deliberations, we hope that the Historic Preservation Commission is able to resolve or address concerns and questions currently being raised.

–WEST HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION ALLIANCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Laura Boccaletti, Judson Feder, Roy Rogers Oldenkamp, Victor Omelczenko,and Jon Ponder

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