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A Call to Save Alpine Village from Demolition By Neglect

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Gentle reader,

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

Esotouric


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.

Psst… If you’d like to support our efforts to be the voice of places worth preserving, we have a tip jar and a subscriber edition of this newsletter, vintage Los Angeles webinars available to stream, in-person walking tours, gift certificates and a souvenir shop you can browse in. Or just share this link with other people who care.

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