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Council to Consider City's Fifth Historic District
By Jorge Casuso
July 19, 2019 -- The City Council on Tuesday will decide whether a cluster of early 20th Century buildings in Ocean Park should be designated Santa Monica's fifth historic district.
The vote comes after the Landmarks Commission last month twice reached a 3-3 deadlock with one of its members absent, effectively denying the designation for the District on the corner of 4th Street and Ocean Park Boulevard
The Santa Monica Conservancy, which nominated the Fourth Street Corner District, appealed the denial, saying it disagreed with staff and the City’s consultant that the cluster is not large or distinct enough to qualify.
The proposed district, staff said, "reflects only a small aspect of the neighborhood’s modest residential development and association from the early twentieth century, and does not appear to significantly convey the history of the neighborhood."
Three of the Landmarks Commissioners agreed with staff that the cluster of 13 residential buildings and two accessory structures built between 1906 and 1936 "does not appear to consist of a sufficient concentration of properties."
The three commissioners also agreed with staff that "the properties and their architectural styles do not appear as a unified grouping," according to staff's report to the Council.
The three Landmarks Commissioners who voted in favor of the District argued that the cluster of hilltop buildings make it a recognizable and cohesive grouping, according to their findings in support of the designation.
"The Fourth Street Corner District is an established and familiar visual feature of the Ocean Park neighborhood," the Commissioners supporting the District wrote.
"This highly intact group of historic residences has a unique location at the summit of a hill, giving the district a strong visual and physical presence."
Staff and the opposing Commissioners disagreed.
"Contextually, the proposed grouping of properties do not appear physically defined or uniquely situated in a manner that would differentiate the group from adjacent residential properties located on the block or other small groupings of early 20th century residences from this period throughout Ocean Park," staff wrote.
If approved by the City Council, the cluster of buildings would become Santa Monica's fifth historic district ("Council Approves Santa Monica's Fourth Historic District," January 23, 2019).
In January, the City Council designated a small smattering of modest century old homes in the Mid City neighborhood as a historic district 30 years after it was first proposed.
Santa Monica's first Historic District -- the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District -- was established in 1990.
Two other Districts followed -- the Bay Craftsman Cluster Historic District established in 2000 and the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District established in 2015.
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