September 3 Deadline: Historical Landmark or Demolition

"The idea that one day you might wake up and can be served and have to leave your home in four months is insane. We need more security as renters," said Steven Luftman, longtime Beverly Grove resident. His fight to stay in his apartment of more than 18 years has now resulted in getting that apartment building and others in the neighborhood recognized as historical cultural monuments by the City's Office of Historic Resources. The hearing to decide the fate of his building and others in the area is on Thursday September 3rd at City Hall on Spring Street at 10am.

These courtyard buildings are part of SurveyLA's Beverly Square Multi-Family Residential Historic District, where 95% of the properties in the neighborhood contribute to its significance. Beverly Square is a multi-family residential subdivision, built on land that formerly served as a driving range. Developed almost entirely during the 1930s, Beverly Square (the area from Croft Ave. to Harper Ave. with Beverly Blvd. to the north and Third Street to the south), features an intact collection of architectural styles that are representative of the period.

The North Flores Street buildings that are the focus of the September 3rd hearing were built in the 1930s by Meyer and Holler, one of the city's most well known design and construction firms recognized for their work on Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre, Getty House the official residence of LA's Mayor and many other notable buildings.

Our city's epidemic of tear downs and rebuilds started with single family homes, quaint cottages, art deco charmers, and resulted in boxy, soulless, cookie cutter McMansions. Now the dance of decimation has waltzed to the small 4 unit and 8 unit mid century apartment buildings that dotted our neighborhood like butter cream roses on a birthday cake. There lived the struggling actors, writers, and new to LA hopefuls, all yearning to find success in the land of the angels.

Many residents were forced out of their abodes, evicted, because land lords have sold their buildings to developers eager to tear down, rebuild and rake in big profits.
Let's do a little math here. If three side by side eight unit apartment buildings are torn down, how many people have been displaced? Where will they go? What can they afford for rent, in a new neighborhood? Sure, they've been given a few thousand dollars as a buy out, but it's a small compensation for being uprooted, having to pack, regroup, look for a new home, and unpack etc.

This tear-down plague is crippling apartment residents in Los Angeles, where property owners evicted tenants from more than 725 units in 2014, more than doubling the 308 units in 2013. One of the few things that can save some of these buildings from demolition and their tenants from evictions is having those buildings considered historic cultural monuments, thus preserving them, as a part of our city's history. The LA Office of Historic Resources is recommending adopting a Historic Cultural Monument for these buildings, meaning that these structures are important to the history of the city and state. Plus, the state needs to protect its existing affordable housing stock, as there is a lack of units in the private sector and the federal housing programs already struggle to meet the existing need.

Yes, change is inevitable. More dreamers move to Los Angeles every day, needing a place to live. Meanwhile, my neighbors and I wonder when and if our building is next, prey to evictions, followed by a Caterpillar with a Jurassic like grapple arm, destroying our personal histories and neighborhoods. The Beverly-Grove area was identified as an excellent example of a 1930s multi-family residential district.

Don't let what little architectural history our city has get ripped away and discarded in Beverly Grove, and in too many of our other neighborhoods. Help declare the once mainstay residences of the Los Angeles middle class to be a part of the city's cultural heritage. Don't let greedy flippers and developers destroy architectural gems. Contact The Department of City Planning's Office of Historic Resources

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