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Landmark for Dogtown

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

May 17 -- The reported birthplace of modern skateboarding -- home now to a one-story surf and skate shop on Main Street -- has been landmarked only months after a condo and retail development seemed set to consume it.

Santa Monica's Landmarks Commission Monday voted unanimously to landmark the building now home to Horizon's West Surf and Skate shop on Main Street near Pico Boulevard, not for its architectural merits, but for its cultural significance.

"They changed the character of skateboarding in Santa Monica... and the world,” said Planning Commissioner Barbara Kaplan. “It's very exciting, because this is a new direction for the commission.

"I think the community really encouraged us to go forward on this," said Kaplan, who is an architect. "Everything kind of fell into place.”

Referred to by some as a "dog of a building" in the heart of "Dog-town" – a moniker affixed to Santa Monica nearly three decades ago because of its gritty reputation among surfers and skaters – the building was once partially home to renowned surfboard shaper Jeff Ho and the acclaimed Zephyr skateboard team.

Many argue the Zephyr team transformed skateboarding from an illegal activity in drained swimming pools across Santa Monica and Venice into an international phenomenon.

According to the commission’s decision Monday, the west wing of the building at 2001-2011 Main Street will be spared from demolition, preserving Horizon's surf shop, which also sells Zephyr and Dogtown memorabilia.

The rest of the building will be converted to 14 units of mixed-use housing with ground-floor retail, mirroring a blitz of development on Main Street, including a block-long apartment building soon to open across the street.

An Environmental Impact Report is still pending and is expected to be issued in the next few months before the project goes before the Planning Commission for approval.

After months of moving forward with development, residents called on the landmarks commission to designate the building as a landmark. While at an impasse on the issue, the building's owner reportedly reached a deal to landmark only the West end of the building and develop the rest.


"They changed the character of skateboarding in Santa Monica... and the world.” Barbara Kaplan




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