January 10, 2008 on 10:00 am | In Fascinating Information, Historic Properties, Legal, Of Local Importance, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Neighbors rally against construction plan in Third Street District


Residentsand preservationists have filed an appeal to a new residential construction project in the heart of the Third Street Historic District. The appeal to the proposal at 2642 Second St. was filed on Dec. 20 in response to a Landmarks Commission decision about 10 days prior that gave propertyowners Mark Gorman and Beth Burns the green light to erect a two-story home that neighbors have called “modernist.” The appeal moves on to the City Council which could hold a hearing on the issue sometime this month.
Appeals to projects can be filed within 10 days of a Landmarks Commission decision, keeping building permits from being issued until the matter is resolved, according to Roxanne Tanemori, the planning associate liaison to the Landmarks Commission.
The appellants — Tony Haig, who owns a Victorian on Beach Street, Scott Campbell, who owns the so-called craftsman “airport” bungalow off Ocean Park Boulevard, and Bea Nemlaha, who owns a bungalow on Third Street — all close neighbors to the proposed modernist structure – contend that the design of the proposed house does not keep with the spirit of the historic district and violates its guidelines.
“The historic guidelines are not being applied,” Nemlaha said. “As a result, projects are now being approved which are neither harmonious nor compatible with the character of the district.”

The City Council established the historic district in 1990, one of two such designated areas in Santa Monica, the other being the Bay Craftsman Cluster Historic District in Ocean Park. The Third Street Historic District includes more than 40 historic homes that contribute to the district, including two churches and a former church that was converted into a private residence. The existing duplex on the Gorman-Burns property is considered to be a noncontributing feature to the district, giving the homeowners a bit more flexibility than if they were renovating a contributing structure.

The couple seemed surprised by the appeal. “We’ve shown respect and care to the neighbors throughout this process,” they stated. “We made myriad changes to the design and its height, roofline, shape, materials, square footage over the last seven months, at significant cost.”

Opponents say they fear that the integrity of the district is being  compromised and the guidelines are being disrespected by both the homeowners and the Landmarks Commission in granting the project to move forward. The couple’s project coincides with a more controversial project at 2617 Third St., where the owner of a bungalow is proposing to
move his front house forward in order to expand on the back house.

“The people in the district feel it is important the guidelines for the district be upheld,” said Karen Blechman, who lives on Third Street. “As with the other project on Third Street, this project on Second Street in many significant ways didn’t conform to the guidelines and
therefore when the Landmarks Commission approved it, it was setting a very unfortunate precedent.”

Most of the commissioners at the Dec. 10 meeting seemed supportive of the project, expressing their appreciation for the changes the homeowners made in the design, changes suggested at previous commission hearings. The project was approved with the contingency that the color of the house change from a bright white to a softer hue.

Neighbors that oppose the project believe that the design is far too contemporary and refute the homeowners’ assessment that the architecture of the proposed house borrows defining elements from nearby historic homes in the district.

“A contemporary building cannot and will not maintain or enhance the turn of the century character of this old beach neighborhood,” according to a statement in the appeal.

The neighbors had already planned for an appeal even before the Landmarks Commission decision was made last month and Nemlaha suggested another could be filed if the Third Street project is also approved by the commission on Jan. 14.

Though he has yet to take an official stance on the issue, Mayor Herb Katz said on Wednesday that he believes that if the project is on a non-contributing site and is not a monstrosity, he would be inclined to throw his support behind it. To Katz, who is an architect, change is part of how a historic district grows.

“My feeling is a lot of times these districts don’t want you to do anything ‘new’ that is contemporary … but that is how you grow and that is how you change,” Katz said. “(The project) needs to be in context in terms of size and in context with the neighborhood, but I am not one to say just because it’s contemporary, it doesn’t fit.”

info couresty of BY MELODY HANATANI Santa Monica Daily Press Staff Writer


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  1. The only thing good we ever got out of Spiro Agnew was the term “effete snobs”. Where I come from, we tear these frame bungalows down. I see a bunch of “historic” structures that aren’t that old, and have little architectural character or value…but the owners think Santa Monica is an elite community and they pretend the neighborhood has intrinsic value. As far as I can say, they are just
    (as George Carlin once said) a place to put your “stuff”…in other words, merely a place to live.

    Comment by Jale the Fake — July 30, 2008 #

  2. Despite the blizzard of information to be had on the Internet, we architects seem to have a much lazier grasp of traditional design than did our predecessors. Today’s brand of pastiche strains to evoke the easy charm of tradition, but more often the result is plain old bedlam. It’s a far cry from our colleagues of the 1920s, who composed their “informal” designs with utmost care, and who always kept an eye on their faithful photographs.

    Comment by Arrol Gellner — August 1, 2008 #

  3. re:


    Would it be possible for me to obtain copies of Michael’s photos of the Gillis House for use on my website? I was the architect for the renovation and the new guest house. Please see http://www.winstonbrockchappell.com.

    Thank you.

    Winston Brock Chappell

    Comment by Winston Brock Chappell — September 4, 2008 #

  4. Dear Jodi,

    My boss asked me to inquire about your listing of the Mayfair Theatre in Santa Monica.
    “Mayfair Theatre (a.k.a. Majestic Theatre), 1911
    212-216 Santa Monica Blvd.
    Architect: Henry Hollwedel”

    She was curious as to what the asking price for the property is. If you have floor plans available for her perusal and what the status of the structure is concerning a remodeling procedure.
    Have you had estimates calculated as to what it would cost to remodel the Theater?

    Also is there a list of restrictions as to what the city would allow since it’s a historical landmark?

    I look forward to hearing back from you.



    Comment by Natalie — September 4, 2008 #

  5. A reassessment of 200 carob trees
    once condemned for removal might have
    reversed the fate of a few dozen.
    A duo of registered consulting arborists
    recently gave a second look at a group of
    declining carob trees that were identified as
    hazardous to public safety in a previous study
    by city consultant HortScience, ultimately
    concluding that about two dozen of the shady
    specimens could be salvaged for now.

    Comment by MELODY HANATANI — September 20, 2008 #

  6. Subject: Question about J.C.Estrada Roofing

    Hi Jodi,
    We had Juan give us an estimate for re-roofing our home. He seemed very professional
    and the price was in line with some other estimates we got. Do you still recommend him? Do his completed jobs look good?
    Thanks in advance,
    Ed Burnside

    Comment by Ed Burnside — September 28, 2008 #

  7. Subject: David Joseph Kennelly House


    I read with great interest your historical inventory of early Santa Monica Landmark Properties, especially the profile of the First Roy Jones Home, when it was located at 1007 Ocean Avenue, because it makes reference to the residence of Captain David Joseph Kennelly being under construction in 1894. Do you know of any information or photographs of the Kennelly house? I am working on a biography of Captain Kennelly and his family who were all quite famous. I have a photograph of Captain Kennelly.

    Please contact me.


    Neil libbey

    Comment by Neil Libbey — November 9, 2008 #

  8. ‘My first impressions? Of peace, of beauty abounding, of an old-world graciousness and elegance of line. And there was something more too: a deep-dwelling spiritual presence that seemed to emanate from the earth itself…”

    That’s the narrator’s description of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed home, in the latest novel by T.C. Boyle. The words also capture how Mr. Boyle felt when he first glimpsed his house: a sprawling “summer cottage” here, designed by Mr. Wright.


    Comment by NANCY KEATES — April 11, 2009 #


    As a little girl, my family lived two blocks from Van Nuys Airport in Southern California right under the flight path of the runway. I remember my
    first visit to the house when my folks were thinking of buying the house.
    One of the National Guard jets flew overhead. The roar of its engines scared me so bad, I ran into the house nearly flying into the black adhesive the owner was using to lay new asphalt tile in the dining room. It scared me half to death! My folks bought that house and were assured the airport would remain a small, quiet, private airport. (It’s now one of the busiest
    metropolitan airports in the U.S.!) We used to play in the backyard and watch with fascination as the planes flew above us. One day a jet took off.
    Over our yard he flew. I could even see the pilot’s face … as he cut my kite string! That was many years ago, but my fascination with airplanes has never waned, especially the old “Warbirds.” I find their throaty roar intoxicating. Watching all the WWII movies, my brother and I drew airplanes by the score. So, for those of you who remember those sights and sounds and still find them alluring, you might enjoy the following story. Don’t know if
    it’s true, but if nothing else, its moral is thought provoking at best.


    Comment by ~dONNA — July 14, 2009 #

  10. Just a quick note of thanks for your Santa Monica Landmarks webpage. I’ve learned more about the historic properties in my neighborhood from the site than in living here for 15 years.

    Thanks again,
    M G Starr

    Comment by M G Starr — July 27, 2009 #

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