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Here's how the city can save the Melrose Bungalow Court... and its feral cat colony


Gentle reader,

If you’ve been tuned in for the past few months, you’ve seen our visits to the increasingly blighted 5212 Melrose Avenue bungalow court, a potential National Register landmark just east of Paramount Studios that was affordable housing for a century, but is now a haven for taggers and stray cats.

We’ve been advocating for these vacant units with a special fervor, because another 1920s neighborhood bungalow court was recently demolished without permits by a developer who wants to combine two lots into an oversized project, and prefers not to be bothered with environmental reviews; the first public hearing is next week.

We couldn’t save the pretty Waring Avenue bungalow court, a property we got to know while taking our sweet little cat Numa to his chemotherapy appointments. The bungalows are gone now, and Numa is, too, but in their memory we started to map L.A.’s precious and increasingly endangered historic bungalow courts. If you know one that’s not on the map, do tell.

People on our walking tours often ask how we know so much about the city. The short answer is that we’re obsessed with Los Angeles and with Angelenos. The longer answer is that we try to read everything: books and magazines, public records, court transcripts, old newspapers, oral histories, correspondence and unpublished manuscripts at archives like the Huntington Library (a collection which we’ve also helped to grow), etc. etc.

We also read pretty much every document that comes out of Los Angeles City Hall. Most of them are dull and predictable, but every so often, something remarkable appears.

Council File 21-1328 has been stalled in committee for years, and just came back to life with a revised motion (original one here). It describes how the city’s housing department is taking ownership of 2949 Edgehill Drive, a rent controlled bungalow court in West Adams that was about to be foreclosed upon—putting the tenants at risk of displacement and the buildings of demolition. Instead, the city plans to restore them for people with housing vouchers.

What a great idea! And the co-signer on councilmember Heather Hutt’s motion is Hugo Soto-Martinez, in whose council office the Melrose bungalow court stands.

If you’d like to support our preservation work, you can do that below. You can also tip us on Venmo (Esotouric) or here. Your support helps us look out for Los Angeles and we thank you!

If it’s good enough for West Adams, it’s good enough for Hollywood.

We’ve been asking the councilmember to step in and preserve the charming, affordable Melrose units as homes for Angelenos for months. Now they are under the gun of a demolition permit. Even worse, the property has just been listed for sale as a .29 acre vacant commercial lot.

Absentee property owner Steven Molasky wants to make the inconvenient residential buildings go away to make it easier to sell off for development, and so far the city has only helped, by rejecting the art hotel scheme that would have preserved most of the buildings, then by allowing the longtime tenants to be displaced.

But Council File 21-1328 shows that the city can do better, by saving good buildings for people to live in.

Please send an email ( or call Council District 13 (213-473-7013), with this urgent message, which you can personalize to put your own spin on:

“I’m asking councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez to take a stand for Hollywood’s historic multi-family housing and work with the housing department to pause the demolition permit and try to purchase the 5212 Melrose Avenue bungalow court to preserve it as affordable housing. Don’t let the property owner tear the buildings down to make it easier to sell as a vacant lot. Also, please ensure the feral cats inside the buildings are trapped and moved to safety before any demolition happens.”

We’re hopeful that by reminding the councilmember that Angelenos care about historic bungalow courts and see preservation of these existing homes as a great tool in the battle against housing insecurity and homelessness that he’ll call on the city’s vast resources to do the right thing for the Melrose Bungalow Court… and for the cats!

Maintaining Hollywood bungalow courts as affordable housing isn’t even a new idea: in 2010, the Los Angeles Conservancy gave an award to Hollywood Community Housing Corporation for their restoration of four neighborhood bungalow courts, to house 42 low-income households—including Maila Nurmi. We can’t think of any better reason to save a bungalow court than that somebody as cool as Vampira might live out her days there.

In other news, we’re thrilled that the Los Angeles Conservancy filed an appeal to halt the demolition of the B’nai B’rith Lodge, subject of our urgent alert a week ago. The historic building is still open to the elements on the parking lot side, but on our last visit, the wrecking machine was no longer lurking nearby.

It’s weird and distressing that the Los Angeles City Attorney has made a secret demolition deal with a private nonprofit property owner. Hopefully now the courts will step in and make some sense of this crazy situation, before any more bricks are broken—or dangerous legal precedents set.

Yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


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 tours and a souvenir shop you can browse in. We’ve also got recommended reading bookshelves on Amazon and the Bookshop indie bookstore site. You can share this post to win subscriber perks. And did you know we offer private versions of our walking and bus tours for groups big or small? Or just share this link with other people who care.

Tour Gift Certificates


Charles Bukowski’s Westlake (Sat. 5/11) • Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice (Sat. 5/18) • Evergreen Cemetery, 1877 (Sat. 5/25) • POP – Preserving Our Past (Sat. 6/1) • Westlake Park (Sat. 6/8) • Highland Park Arroyo (Sat. 6/15) • Film Noir / Real Noir (Sat. 6/29) • Angelino Heights & Carroll Avenue (Sat. 7/13) • Know Your Downtown L.A.: Tunnels To Towers To The Dutch Chocolate Shop (7/27) • Raymond Chandler’s Noir Downtown Los Angeles (8/31)


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