All through February, our social media feed was dotted with scenes of charming Bavarian buildings, green flowered wooden market shelves packed with old world delicacies and smiling friends raising beers skyward while their eyes betrayed great sadness.
The word was out: three years after the anchor restaurant shut down and the property was designated a protected landmark, Alpine Village in unincorporated Los Angeles County had been sold, the daily swap meet vendors evicted, Alpine Village Market was soon to be shuttered and the fate of the little specialty shops unknown.
We couldn’t bring ourselves to visit the lovely market just to say goodbye. It closed on Monday. And yesterday, since we were already checking in on the Eagle Tree sapling in Compton, we continued south to Alpine Village (1969-2023) to pay our respects and see what was left.
The rains had turned the buckling parking lot, built on landfill, into a windy wetlands, and the seagulls seemed baffled that there were no scraps of sausages to be snatched from distracted patrons. Beyond the chapel, we found eviction notices posted to the surviving storefronts, signed by the mysterious, newly formed Delaware corporation 833 Torrance Boulevard, LLC.
Nobody seems to know who they are or what they plan. But the one rumor that has regularly bobbed to the surface is that they have no interest in the landmarked Alpine Village buildings, but only in the massive parking lot and its easy proximity to freeway, rail and port, for storing trucks.
While we were walking around the eerily quiet village, the legacy mother-daughter shopkeepers at Alpine Toys posted on Facebook to let their patrons know that they’d been given their one month notice, adding that they’d been told that "they are just going to ‘mothball’ the buildings as they are protected by the historic designation. So they will just sit here empty."
We met a reporter by the chapel who asked what we thought about that.
And we thought and talked about it, then made the video that you see above.
Just one thing: we were wrong to call out to Supervisor Janice Hahn to work with the new owners to find a better use for the landmarked buildings than as perches for confused seagulls. As the area has been recently redistricted, Alpine Village is now in Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s Second District. She’s already made an effort to aid the displaced swap meet vendors, and we hope she’ll take a strong role in protecting these beloved buildings and ensuring they remain of use and maintained.
yours for Los Angeles,
Kim & Richard
Update March 4, 2023: While at Alpine Village, we spoke with a freelance reporter and our comments were featured in this story on ABC7 local news, Shopkeepers face uncertainty after closure of Alpine Village in Torrance.
Update May 8, 2023: The shuttered Alpine Village property is now available as truck parking. What a waste! Tell Sup. Holly Mitchell you want L.A. County to take the lease, save the landmark, and do something better here.
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UPCOMING WALKING TOURS
Saturday, March 11 - Downtown Los Angeles is For Book Lovers • Saturday, March 18 - Franklin Village Old Hollywood • Saturday, March 25 - Angelino Heights & Carroll Avenue • Saturday, April 8 - John Fante’s Downtown • Saturday, April 15 - Raymond Chandler’s Downtown
CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS
Update on the landmark Charles B. Booth Carriage House on South Bonnie Brae after the recent fire: roof draped with a tarp as big rains approach. People appear to be living in the narrow alley, close to the wooden outbuildings. We are concerned about everything in this picture!
Legacy San Pedro business on the market! Who wants to teach generations of kids how to make beautiful, or not so beautiful, music together? (Thanks to preservation pal Little Lost Angeles for spotting the listing.)
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The trouble with Los Angeles is that local government doesn't enforce most of its own rules that protect tenants. So of course parasites hoard rent controlled apartments and rent them by the night. Kill this and everything changes.
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Community College Board was supposed to vote on auctioning off or destroying the California State landmark folk art environment Old Trapper’s Lodge that has been so badly cared for by Pierce College. We wrote them a letter asking them not to… and maybe it worked, as the agenda item was removed before the meeting began. Scroll down for the latest.
One big effect of the end of the Covid emergency is that stalled landmark nominations are again moving through the system, as Eric Garcetti's tolling action has expired. What will become of the derelict Pacific Dining Car, embroiled in a family feud? Watch this space.
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Netflix seeks an exception to Hollywood's sign ordinance to put a jarring LED screen on the roof of what they call "Netflix Egyptian Theatre." It's Grauman's, actually. Background on how this community space passed into corporate hands is here.
Today at the Cultural Heritage Commission, we made public comment alerting them to the demolition of the rent controlled Waring Avenue bungalow court, which LADBS confirmed was done without any valid permits.
CORRUPTION CORNER: One name that hasn't come up in the CD-14 Enterprise RICO case against Jose Huizar & co. is Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff. But on Raymond Chan's CV, he takes credit for green lighting that developer's unbuildable Playa Vista site. In 2003, 20 years before he would stand trial for racketeering, Chan assured readers of the Los Angeles Times that the Playa Vista development was safe, despite vast pockets of methane underneath it. But read this 2022 letter sent to Eric Garcetti from a Playa Vista resident, with chilling allegations of gas leaks and ethical violations… Chan’s trial is currently unfolding at the Federal courthouse, and legal reporter Meghann Cuniff’s Substack newsletter is essential reading, for all the dirt on hotheaded attorney Harland Braun’s incompetence, Huizar’s attempted shakedown of his freaked out staffer’s grandpa and “the most expensive p*ssy” one billionaire ever paid for… We’re skeptical of City Council’s ability to police itself, but will be watching this motion that seeks to invoke Section 1090 to void corrupt contracts, make citizens whole. The city could seize the L.A. Grand Hotel, owned by a convicted fugitive, to start!