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.