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Council Approves Santa Monica's Fourth Historic District


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January 23, 2019 -- Thirty years after it was first proposed, a small smattering of modest century old homes in the Mid City neighborhood was designated as a Historic District by the City Council Tuesday night.

The 11th Street Bungalow Historic District -- on the 1200 block of 11th Street (between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue) -- is Santa Monica's fourth district to win historic designation.

For years, neighbors had urged the City to approve the district, which includes middle-class homes built between 1904 and 1925 that were slowly being demolished.

"It's a shame that we have waited so long and so much has been lost," said Councilmember Kevin McKeown, "and I want to lose no more."

Councilmember Greg Morena agreed.

"It pains me greatly when I see these beautiful old properties get rolled up and disappear," Morena said.

"I just want to be fair to people who have invested in these properties, and it is their properties."

In making its unanimous decision, the Council rejected staff's recommendation to turn down the District and instead followed the Landmarks Commission's recommendation made in a 5-0 vote at its meeting December 10.

In its report to the Landmarks Commission, staff cited a report by the City's consultant, OAC, that found the district did not meet the necessary criteria and was not unique to Santa Monica.

"Though this little assemblage of residences is part of the City’s history," staff wrote, "it does not on its own manifest historic elements."

Staff also noted that the district "does not appear to be a geographically definable area possessing a distinct concentration of historic properties," since it was interspersed with structures built since World War II.

Before voting, Council members weighed the legal implications of rejecting staff's recommendation, which could leave the City could be open to challenges by homeowners.

One Council member noted that Landmarks Commissioner Barry Rosenbaum, who was the City's land use attorney, thought the designation could withstand legal challenges.

But City Attorney Lane Dilg noted that Rosenbaum was not offering his opinion as a City official.

Santa Monica's first Historic District -- the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District -- was established in 1990.

Two other Districts followed -- the Bay Craftsman Cluster Historic District established in 2000 and the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District established in 2015.

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