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City Council Designates Fifth Historic District, Second in Six Months

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

July 25, 2019 -- It took a quarter century to designate Santa Monica's first three historic districts. In six months, the City Council has designated the next two.

On Tuesday, the Council with little discussion voted unanimously to designate a cluster of early 20th Century buildings in Ocean Park as the beach city's fifth historic district.

In doing so, it disagreed with City staff and its historic preservation consultant that the 14 structures built between 1906 and 1936 were not large or cohesive enough to warrant the designation ("Council to Consider City's Fifth Historic District," July 19, 2019).

Councilmember Ted Winterer, who made the motion to create the Fourth Street Corner District, said the hilltop cluster of varied buildings on Ocean Park Boulevard was "contiguous and largely intact."

Winterer said he disagreed with the Landmarks Commissioners who voted to oppose the district in a deadlocked decision last month because it "was not a collection of unified architecture."

"We've seen other historic districts where the buildings are not necessarily of the same architecture," Winterer said.

“This is not Nantucket. This is Santa Monica, and the Ocean Park neighborhood has a history of developing a diversity of architectural styles at the same time.”

The Santa Monica Conservancy, which appealed the Landmarks Commission's 3-3 vote that effectively denied the designation, hailed Tuesday's decision.

"The buildings represent an important period in the early residential development of Ocean Park following the western extension of what is now Ocean Park Boulevard to Main Street and the beach," the Conservancy wrote in an email sent after the vote.

"Like the neighboring Third Street Neighborhood Historic District, a variety of architectural styles found in Ocean Park are represented."

The Third Street District earned the City's first such designation in 1990, followed ten years later by the Bay Street Craftsman cluster a half dozen blocks away.

The first district outside of Ocean Park -- the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District -- was designated in 2015.

The current council designated the fourth district -- the 11th Street Bungalow Historic District -- on January 22, followed by the Fourth Street Corner District designated Tuesday ("Council Approves Santa Monica's Fourth Historic District," January 23, 2019).

Over the past year, the Council has also overturned designations for two landmarks -- the 100-year-old sycamore tree at 1122 California Avenue and the Home Savings building at 2600 Wilshire with its iconic 50-year-old mural.

The tree lost its landmark status after the owner agreed to protect the tree while the City crafts a citywide tree ordinance ("Deed Restriction to Protect Century Old Sycamore Has Not Been Signed," July 23, 2019).

A settlement with the owner of the former Home Savings building last September stripped the landmark status, paving the way for the removal of the mural ("Iconic Santa Monica Mosaic Could Be Removed Under Legal Settlement," September 5, 2018).

Last month, work crews began dismantling the iconic 40-foot by 16-foot glass and ceramic mosaic by renown California artist Millard Sheets ("Work Crews Prepare to Remove 50-Year-Old Santa Monica Mosaic," June 17, 2019).

The mural -- titled "Pleasures Along the Beach" -- was donated by the owner to a Museum in the Orange County.

An outcry ensued when it was learned that City officials had failed to inform the public that the mural was at risk of being lost ("Distressed" Arts Commission Learns Why Santa Monica Lost Its Iconic Mural," June 20, 2019).

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