It's all happening in Boyle Heights, with jelly donuts for everyone

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

This Sunday at 4pm, we’ll be hosting our latest immersive Los Angeles cultural history webinar, Learning from Boyle Heights / Saving Los Angeles, and we’d love you to join us, for the live program or later on-demand.

For this time travel trip into one of the city’s oldest and most fascinating neighborhoods, we’ll be joined by Asco arts collective members Sean Carrillo and Daniel Villarreal, preservationist/community activists Vivian Escalante and David Silvas, the Breed Street Shul Project’s Stephen Sass, David Kipen from the Libros Schmibros lending library and Steven Luftman of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles to explore how the past and present talk to one another. And there are some cool surprises you won’t want to miss.

These are challenging times for Los Angeles, and we truly believe the answers to many of the city’s troubles can be found in how the original multi-cultural, mixed-use neighborhood organically navigated rough waters in years past. A community where different kinds of people care about each other can accomplish great things.

One great example is the work of community organizer Julius Levitt, who webinar guest David Silvas is seeking to have honored with a city square. Another sweet project David is spearheading is a menorah lighting ceremony on the first night of Hanukkah (November 28), on the steps of the historic Breed Street Shul. All are welcome to see the symbolic candle lit and enjoy free holiday treats like jelly donuts and gold-wrapped chocolate coins (gelt), and you’ll hear more about it on Sunday’s webinar.

More Pig 'n Whistle news, as the Beverly Press covers the illegal destruction of the Hollywood cultural resource and the pressing need for councilman Mitch O'Farrell to hold the property owner accountable and demand restoration of "this slow-motion train wreck." Meanwhile, we blogged about the city’s visit to the site after the stop work order was posted. The skulls are foam! And the city is cracking down. Will they require full restoration? Stay tuned.

Everybody is asking why the city didn’t do anything to halt this unpermitted work after citizens sounded the alarm in August. Listening to the latest Cultural Heritage Commission hearing, it sounds as if the understaffed Office of Historic Resources has been devoting its limited resources to landmarking an unthreatened Frank Gehry building for spite after the architect actively sought demolition of the newly landmarked Lytton Savings. Meanwhile, a lovely building was wrecked, illegally.

It’s hard to see such neglect of supposedly “protected” resources, and we’re not willing to accept this as business as usual. We want to see OHR get a meaningful budget and staffing increase, and to focus on protecting cultural resources that are at risk rather than producing the politically motivated landmark nominations that are in fashion.

This won’t happen under Eric Garcetti, but maybe the next mayor will have a clue about what the city needs. We’re hopeful, because what else can you be and keep going?

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard

Esotouric


In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—We visit a Rosicrucian healing temple high above Oceanside, only to get goosed by a ghost—your support helps us go out and explore interesting landmarks that offer so much more than is listed on their National Register designations.


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On our Veterans’s Day rounds yesterday, we met our preservation pal Courtland Jindra at Victory Memorial Grove, the forgotten garden of remembrance he researched and then restored for the centennial of the end of the Great War. Once dusty and ugly, it's now alive with butterflies and blossoms.

Later, we met Marta at the Mexican-American All Wars Memorial at Cinco Puntos in Boyle Heights, honoring those who served from the eastside. An unpopular traffic calming scheme aims to destroy this holy space with a roundabout. Citizens held protest signs as politicians spoke.

A new mural by Stephen Cue Jn-Marie on Winston Street honors our friend General Jeff, the Mayor of Skid Row, and helps get the word out to the community he served that he is gone. The L.A. Times remembers him, too.

According to the New Yorker, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Los Angeles Times owner, is a medical profiteer, fraudster and dilettante who only thinks he's a super genius. Why does this matter? Because if he’s slippery where his own profits are concerned, how can we trust him to prioritize investigation of corruption in Los Angeles?

We never like to see a 136-year-old house sell above market value with no photos in the property listing. So it's good Highland Park Heritage Trust has submitted a landmark nomination for the Throop House at 902 N. San Pascual. Cultural Heritage Commission hears the matter on 11/18/21 (PDF agenda link).

Congrats to our preservation pal Mickey Gallivan for getting Welton Becket & Associates' time capsule 1969 Pomona Civic Center declared a protected historic district. So much more progressive than L.A., which demolished his Parker Center—for nothing.

The Historic Garvanza Coalition is fundraising to appeal a giant TOC co-living project in their architecturally distinguished neighborhood. The developer is the notorious Gelena Skya-Wasserman, who evicted 57 families from the Marmion Royal apartments in Highland Park.

Targeted intimidation of a journalist should be disqualifying for mayoral candidate and City Attorney Mike Feuer.

A tragic loss of a Dana Point treasure. El Patio Cafe (1937-2020) served generations of surfers, truckers and locals at long family tables. The pandemic wiped them out. The owner’s farewell, video featurette and a 2013 interview. We were sorry to find them closed on our way to Oceanside to visit the Rosicrucian Fellowship, and captured the pretty view for our #esotouricroadtrip series.

Cool merch alert! Our pals at 1933 Group have crafted a deliriously daffy ashtray honoring the bulldog shaped building behind the Idle Hour. Your coffin nail goes in his backside, and smoke comes out his pipe. The Preservation Imp adores him!

It's last call for El Gringo in Hermosa Beach (though the other coastal cities El Gringos are still serving). We hate to see any legacy business close down, but at least the community still has a newspaper to give it a proper farewell.

Taking stock of America's endangered jazz clubs. Never big money makers, Covid is forcing many under water, including Little Tokyo’s Blue Whale. SBA loans and PPP aren't enough: we need an annual Federal arts subsidy to keep legacy performance venues alive.

Cheers to NeueHouse, whose Bradbury Building desks had the misfortune to launch just as the world shut down, for opening a bar. We've dreamed about this. Maybe the Huntington will let them copy the Wyman-signed building plans?

The Gamble House Conservancy has placed the Greene & Greene archives at the Huntington Library. We can't wait to dig into the minutiae of their Arts and Crafts working lives. First stop: the correspondence, to look for lovely letterheads.

Spanish Colonial Revival and concrete Airform house nuts, get excited: after many years of work, the Huntington Library has completed cataloging its Wallace Neff collection: 918.7 linear feet of papers from an incredible career!

Corruption Corner: On the third episode of the Jose Huizar podcast Smoke Screen: The Sellout, you'll hear us laugh hysterically at the idea that this pro-developer, RICO-charged Los Angeles councilman had any intention of landmarking Wyvernwood and protecting the tenants…. Huizar's public defenders file more documents seeking to have his RICO charges thrown out, and claim this insane city commendation for Chinese billionaire Huang Wei falls outside the statute of limitations to be part of the bribery scheme. PDF links: read the whole commendation here and here is the court filing…. Where did Chinese nationals get all that cash to bribe Huizar and other members of the Los Angeles "city family"? Maybe just down the 710 in friendly Bell Gardens, where Bicycle Casino has settled with the DOJ over lax money laundering compliance.

Habibi Cafe in Westwood (since 2000) is establishing grounds to be the first Los Angeles hookah lounge to sue the city over Mike Feuer's crackdown on flavored tobaccos, calling the practice of shisha smoking a protected cultural activity.

Powerful opposition statements to the illegal upzoning of 6555 Franklin, including this one calling out Eric Garcetti's official seal on a Planning doc lying that it's not a high risk earthquake and fire zone (it is) led the PLUM Committee to continue the matter. The FBI is watching all of this, but they can’t bring the two beautiful old homes back from the rubble.

Cheers to Paul Koretz, for today’s motion to revisit the rejected appeal over $36M Bel Air mega-mansion on the grounds that LADBS and the Planning Director erred by rubber stamping a project with numerous code violations. We need to review so many of these sketchy projects!

One of our favorite South Los Angeles neighborhoods, Florence-Firestone, is getting it first ever historic resources survey from the County, and we're eager to see new landmarks and stories shared.

Last Friday, the motion to landmark East L.A.’s Unique Theatre passed unanimously. This is a preservation cause that we’ve championed since the building was damaged in a fire. Now it is on to the Board of Supervisors, where Hilda Solis will tell her colleagues that she supports saving the neighborhood treasure for adaptive reuse. Our live tweets of the interesting hearing are compiled here.

Video vault: we were there to witness a celebration got the newly registered National Champion Big Tree Queensland Kauri (Agathis robusta) in the Huntington’s rose garden. It’s the oldest planted tree on the grounds, predating Henry Huntington’s ownership.

6435 Wilshire is a Class A reinforced concrete building that housed Pontiac's West Coast sales office in 1951. A handsome structure that could be adapted for housing, but instead plans are filed to demolish it for a new condo tower. Why not save it?

An Historic Cultural Monument application was filed for the trashed High Tower Elevator Association residence of actor Philip Ahn, with additional reference to Kurt Cobain's 1990s tenancy. What's Courtney Love, chopped liver?

A landmark nomination was filed for the Pacific Dining Car. The owners say they'll reopen, but fans of the iconic all night steak and fancy breakfast palace build around an old train car have been worried since the contents were auctioned off last year. Is the large parcel on the market as a development site? See this marketing flier (PDF link).

As preservationists who see so many quicker, cheaper, greener ways of solving the housing use crisis than demolitions and new construction, we appreciate this policy work.

Is the city seeking to settle with the Los Angeles Conservancy over City Council’s illegal Chili Bowl votes? After PLUM member Mark Ridley-Thomas' indictment, maybe Mike Feuer would rather make a deal than let a judge take a closer look.

We're worried about the 1901 home at 2507 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights, boarded up since at least early 2019 and tied up in a habitability case between a local rental agent (and owner of Otomisan) and a Beverly Hills LLC. Rent it, please!

In Boyle Heights there are 45 rent controlled apartments listed by the night as the Mariachi Plaza Hotel (15 in the landmarked 1887 Gless Farm House, 30 in the 1938 Art Deco apartments next door). Both properties just flipped for millions of dollars. Where are the tenants? Historian of French L.A. C.C. de Vere is spitting tacks about mariachis displaced and the very real demolition threat.

In September, we blogged about the nightly theft of bronze streetlights from the Glendale Hyperion Bridge, which appeared to stop with more LAPD drive-bys. But concerned neighbor zeppelinarts reports another just vanished at Waverly andHyperion. Save our sentries!

Who is holding this beautiful block of rent controlled, multi-family housing vacant? A dissolved Nevada LLC with a terminated 2015 development project. On the roof of the Capulet Apartments at left is one of the oldest incandescent bulb signs in California. The nearest building burned this week. (pic: Google streetview)

At 3rd and Lorena, straight down from Evergreen Cemetery, Luna's Exotic Produce grows their own sweet fare in the high desert and on site (the dragon fruit is hibernating for the season). Where else can you find custardy White Sapote fruit and grapes straight from Fresno in Los Angeles?

Appeal filed (PDF link) for the 5600 Hollywood project, a greedy attempt to cram 200 apartments onto a site zoned for 93, while demolishing rent controlled units and wrecking a John Parkinson vista.

97-year-old Casa La Golondrina is changing hands under the odd rules that govern Olvera Street trade. Public comments question if the new operator can handle it, who else is involved.

Not everything that Mattel's toy designers sent to the production line turned to gold. Shrinkin' Violette is a terrifying talking potato of a doll.

James Dastoli noticed that buildings in his Los Feliz neighborhood were swapping out vintage windows for ugly modern replacements, so he did some research into best practices for energy savings and historic preservation, and created this helpful video.