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Residents Fight to Win Historic Status for Santa Monica Bungalow District
By Niki Cervantes
January 5, 2018 -- Once upon a time, Santa Monica was home to neighborhoods of modest but well-built, well-designed and well-loved bungalows built for people of middle-class means.
“Friends of 11th Street” is offering its cluster of those homes -- now centenarian bungalows -- as proof of that life, back at the turn of the 20th Century, and is asking the City to grant their neighborhood historic status in a bid to preserve it.
“There is no other cluster of the city’s original bungalows built by the first middle-class residents of the original city of Santa Monica,” according to a report by “community consultants” acting on behalf of the neighbors.
The group is asking the City’s Landmarks Commission to designate the 1200 block of 11th Street (between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue) as a historic district.
Its bid goes to the commission on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1685 Main Street.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save this cultural and historic treasure by establishing a historic district here that honors and protects for generations to come the architectural expression of affordable, well-built and designed middleclass housing,” the neighborhood consultant report said.
The proposed 11th Street Historic Bungalow District includes a collection of eight (contributing and altered-contributing) bungalows built between 1904 and 1925, with one back house built in 1911 and another in 1924.
“Between 1904 and 1913, 11th Street between Wilshire and Arizona grew into a neighborhood of family homes that housed the people who made Santa Monica into a vital, charming city."
The residents included -- who included rancher William Nelson, plastering contractor F.A. Griffith, painter Ashford Drumm and their families -- "were middle-income, middle-class people whose bungalows often remained in their families for generations and whose various skills and labor built the city,” the neighborhood consultants said.
The Friends of 11th Street submitted its request for historic designation last April. In June, the commission asked for a professional assessment.
Ostashay and Associates Consulting, the Long Beach firm retained for the job, was not supportive.
It concluded that “the collective grouping of the 1200 Block of 11th Street Cluster appears to lack sufficient architectural merit, direct associations with important personages, and adequate historical integrity to be eligible for local historic district designation.
“Overall, the district must be able to visually and physically convey its sense of time, place, historical development and authenticity from its period of significance,” the assessment said.
The proposed district, the City's consultant said, includes "a variety of improvements from various periods," including dedicated parking and bicycle lanes, as well as "the infill of parcels with later multi-story improvements" making the potential designation "questionable.”
"Many post-World War II era multi-story apartment buildings and condominiums have infilled the area and, therefore, changed the setting and feeling of the neighborhood," the consultant wrote.
"The result is a varied residential development pattern lacking unity, cohesiveness, and a distinct concentration of resources.”
An historic designation by the City incudes some protections from demolition. But the list of requirements is long.
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