The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to delay the decision to designate a bungalow courtyard as a historic cultural monument (HCM) so that further studies can be done on the property.
If the bungalows are not deemed historic after the 15-day extension, the owners of the buildings will demolish the structures that housed eight rent-controlled units.
HCM status, however, would restrict the owner’s plans to demolish the property at 750-756 ½ N. Edinburgh Ave. In order, to demolish the structures of an HCM, an environmental impact review must be approved by the full city council, and reviewed by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC).
The CHC unanimously voted in favor of designation of the 1923 Spanish Colonial Revival bungalow on a corner double lot at Edinburgh and Waring Avenues.
The property is made up of four one-story residential buildings and one garage a U-shaped configuration.
The planning and land use management committee on Tuesday submitted the report to the full city council without recommendation because only three members were present and a unanimous vote is needed to make a recommendation. Only two voted to continue the item for 15 days.
On Wednesday, Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, submitted the motion to continue the item for 15 days after requests were made by the owners and the group trying to preserve it to further study the property and come to a consensus on its sustainability.
According to the CHC, the Edinburgh Bungalow Courtyard “reflects the broad cultural, political, economic or social history” of the community for its association with the rapid development that occurred in Hollywood and its surrounding areas in the early 1920s.
CHC’s report continues to explain that, after the boom of the film industry, new jobs and an influx of people employed in film production dominated the area. Between 1910 and 1920, the population in Hollywood grew from 5,000 to 36,000. The increase in population lead to an increased need for housing and the bungalow court became a popular alternative to single-family houses. They were once prevalent throughout Hollywood.
The courtyard also “embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural-type specimen, inherently valuable for the study of a period, style or method of construction” as an example of the bungalow court multi-family housing type in Hollywood.
The developers applied for a demolition permit last year, which was placed on hold while an environmental impact report for a proposed replacement project was prepared.
The developer withdrew the original plans and the city reactivated the demolition permit.
On the day construction was set to begin last September, crews met a group of protestors at the site and a HCM application was filed. Demolition was again halted pending the designation review.
Guy Penini, one of the owners with BLDG Edinburgh, LLC, said at the PLUM hearing that they have worked with the community and they understand it is a complicated issue.
“But it’s inherently an unsafe place to live,” he said. “We believe it should be redeveloped.”
The owners claimed that the bungalows are beyond repair and that their studies show the units cannot safely be occupied.
“My client has restored many historic and period buildings, including bungalows, mid-century modern and Spanish colonials, and supports historic designation when a property is truly historic. But, we aren’t convinced that this property is historic, which is why we are continuing to work with the LA Conservancy, “ said Aaron Green, the property owner’s representative.
To save the property, according to representatives for the owners, the structures would need to be lifted off the ground, which could cause the buildings to crumble.
“The buildings are severely degraded from decades of neglect, termite damage and poor original construction,” Green added. ”We are still studying whether or not there are feasible solutions to saving the buildings, and are committed to exploring all options.”
Heather Fox and Brian Jennings, neighbors to the courtyard, have been rallying neighbors to support the historic-cultural designation. Fox said they disagree with the owner’s assessments.
“I have walked the neighborhoods for months garnering hundreds of signatures and I can tell you that this is what the community wants,” Fox said at the PLUM hearing.
Fox said she has fallen in love with the bungalows and that the effort to save them has connected her and brought the community together.
The neighbors who teamed up to oppose demolition said they have been trying to get new surveyors into the homes to examine them, but the owners will not let them in. However, L.A. Conservancy may be allowed to examine the property over the next two weeks.
The Mid City West Community Council also voted in favor of preserving the bungalow courtyard.
Fox and Jennings had neighbors join them in support at the PLUM Committee hearing. But there were also community members who agreed with the property owners and complained about the eyesore in the neighborhood, that it is falling apart and not worth saving.
Green said prior proposals for the property have been withdrawn and there are no existing plans for the lot.
After the owners discovered that the neighbors did not approve of their proposal, they agreed they will not finalize any potential proposal until they reach an agreement with the community and city council office.
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