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City Council Delays Sunset Lanai Vote

The City Council decides to defer voting on a "cultural resource" designation for the 60-year-old, Edward Fickett-designed Sunset Lanai apartments to an unspecified future date.

The West Hollywood City Council delayed at its Monday night meeting.

Built in 1952 by Edward H. Fickett, FAIA, the mid-century modern building at 1422 N. Sweetzer Avenue (at Sunset Boulevard) has been recommended for the local cultural resource designation by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The designation gives tax breaks to the owner but also creates strict guidelines for maintenance and repair.

The City Council has been scheduled to finalize this designation several times but delayed that vote at the request of the property owner Edwin Silver who is opposed to it. Silver contends the building is in poor condition and has been altered by repairs over the years, thereby not qualifying it for the designation.

Silver has said the financial burden placed upon him by historic upkeep requirements would be too great and he might consequently have to use the Ellis Act to evict all the tenants and leave the rental business.

Councilmember John D’Amico favored the designation, worrying that without it, Silver might do more repairs that would further damage the historic integrity of the building.

Councilmember John Duran said this situation was another example of a building worthy of historic designation that also falls under the city’s rent control laws which don’t allow the owner to make enough money to do the upgrades.

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land agreed, saying the building was worthy of designation and that the city needs to come up with incentives for landlords to do upgrades.

Councilmember John Heilman questioned whether the city should designate every building just because Fickett designed it. He said he was more concerned about seeing that the tenants get protection (i.e., to stay in the building).

Mayor Jeff Prang called the Sunset Lanai one of his favorite Fickett buildings in the city, one he doesn’t want to see demolished, something the owner could do easily without the designation in place.

In the end council voted 4-1 to defer voting on the designation to an uncertain date in the future. Prang said the deferral was in essence a defacto designation. Planning Director John Keho agreed, saying that with the cultural resource application still on file pending a final vote by the Council, the owner can’t do anything to the building. Duran said if Silver does try to get demolition permits, the city could act quickly to stop it.

joninla July 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
What a surprise. They tabled it for an 'uncertain date in the future'. Almost fell off my chair with that shocking headline. Heilman more concerned about the tenants - I call BS on that one. Tell it to all the Tenants evicted in the caddy-corner El Mirador apartment building.
Lynn Russell July 18, 2012 at 10:45 PM
It might be a great idea if you actually took the time to be informed before making shoot from the hip comments on nearly every imaginable issue that emerges. With all the time you appear to have on your hands, and all the energy, not one visible positive effort at a solution to date.
Frank Parks July 19, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Joninia is right on! she/he's always right on track; city council of weho only cares about developers money being put into their accounts; look at El Mirador? Ellis? yeah sure...make it available for "non profits or a school", crock of crap, anyone with half a brain could figure out that he wanted to go condo; think the city council cares about the city? yeah sure - parking garage - $16 million - check; Destroy Plummer Park - (in progress) - I'll bet ya Check; La Brea Corridor and THOUSANDS of new housing units on board which will create it's own WeHo CARMageddon - check...please, it's so easy to come up with these things off the top of my head; too bad that residents don't vote these crackers out!
Todd Bianco July 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM
The City has repeatedly shown little commitment to historical preservation. With so many amazing architecturally-significant buildings in West Hollywood with rich histories and provenance, it's a travesty to let these building be neglected, on purpose, by their owners. I believe you have to balance private property rights with historic preservation, but they don't have to be mutually-exclusive. And tenants shouldn't have to suffer because an owner would rather let the building deteriorate to the point people with want it torn down - regardless of its historic status. Willful neglect is not an excuse to demolish and it's also not an excuse to pursue historic preservation. I wonder if/when the City will get around to reconsidering the fully-warranted designation of this building as a cultural resource.

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