The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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Landmarks Commission Out of Control and Where Were the Hotel Owners?

November 19, 2002

Dear Editor,

If Frank Gruber is truly interested in what created the firestorm on historic districts (WHAT I SAY: "History: There's No Escape," November 18), he should read the staff report presented at the April, 2002 Landmarks Commission meeting that discussed putting hundreds of homes into five new historic districts.

Combined with this report was the Landmarks Commission causing major delays in the demolition of three 18th Street homes that had no historic events or famous architects connected to them, and the Landmarks Commission moving the highly contested historic district issue into sub-committee so they could discuss the matter in secret.

Homeowners also have fresh memories of 211 Alta being made a landmark, and the attempt to make the mortuary on Montana Avenue a landmark. They are also very aware of the hypocrisy of the city stealing homeowners' property rights when legitimate historic buildings like the old RAND building, the old police building and the main library building are passed over.

The conclusion of many homeowners is that the Landmarks Commission is out of control and needs to be checked. The matter was brought up to the City Council, who refused to take action. Out of frustration, an initiative to strip the Landmarks Commission of most of its power in residential neighborhoods was created.

If the City Council is smart they will turn the initiative into an ordinance. By doing so, they will have an opportunity to reform the landmark and historic district nomination process, regain the trust of the homeowners and remove the ordinance in the future. If instead they allow the initiative to go to the voters, it can only be removed by the voters, and it is unlikely they will get many people other than impacted homeowners to vote on this issue.

Best regards,

Jeff Segal

November 16, 2002

Dear Editor:

Reading your story about new public improvements ("Council Approves More than $8 million in Projects," November 13), I couldn't help wonder where those vigilant and community-minded watchdogs were who spent the last few months predicting fiscal catastrophe for city residents if Measure JJ passed.

Apparently the hotel industry and its pr hacks -- which spent more than three quarters of a million dollars telling voters that Measure JJ would cause irreparable harm to senior centers, libraries and schools -- were nowhere to be found as the Council approved millions of dollars in spending on infrastructure needs.

Could the reason be that the hotels' campaign was an elaborate fiction meant to protect their profits at the expense of the hard-working people who keep their businesses going?

Or are the hotel owners too busy celebrating their ruthless victory, unaware that all they've won is years of further conflict with a community that will not rest until they acknowledge that hard work deserves a living wage?

Mar Preston
Santa Monica

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