Friday, December 24, 2021

Why The Taix Battle Isn't Really (Just) About Taix

Dear Readers:

I know, I know. I’ve written quite a bit already about the Taix situation. I have been researching an entry on a different family, but their surviving property isn’t in any imminent danger, whereas Taix is.

Spread this entry far and wide. Share it with the people who make excuses for bad development and the people who don’t know or care about developers’ misdeeds or City Hall corruption. Enough is enough.

Although the initial Taix landmark approval, with substantial alterations, was rescinded (the city violated the Brown Act), the battle is far from over.

Due to time limits at the 12/7 meeting, the nomination will be re-heard on 1/18.

As you consider your statements for public comment, I ask that everyone consider this: the Taix battle aims to save Taix, but it isn’t solely about Taix.

PLUM, or the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, wields considerable power in Los Angeles. Whether they have too much of it is a subject for another time. 

This is the case of a unique legacy property, sold off-market to an out-of-state developer with a questionable track record in LA, slated to be replaced with a development that has changed considerably from the original renderings. The nomination, altered to the extreme by City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell at the developer’s request, essentially turns landmarking into salvage. 

The whole thing stinks like a week-old serving of salmon dropped in the gutter on Sunset Boulevard and left to rot in the sun.

Exactly how much say should developers, especially non-local ones who aren’t invested in the community, have in Los Angeles, a city constantly losing the things that make it Los Angeles and also a city stuck with the results of irresponsible development? 

It’s not development per se that’s the problem. There’s an ocean of difference between responsible development (loft conversions, affordable buildings, designing with safety and residents’ needs in mind instead of flashy aesthetics…or the cheapest materials possible) and irresponsible development (too many luxury units, not enough windows - Charlie Munger, I’m looking at you - no security, nowhere to do laundry, in some cases no kitchen, too far away from anything to walk, no green space, tearing down affordable units with no tenant relocation plan and refusing to replace them with an equal or greater number of affordable units, etc.). 

And, of course, there is the Kafkaesque nature of appeasing a deep-pocketed developer by illegally sabotaging a landmark nomination in a way that would set a legal precedent for destroying an untold number of very important places.

Must every important place in Los Angeles be placed in potential danger of demolition because a Washington-based developer is determined to tear one of them down?

Unsure of my ability to get through on the phone (like many of you, I wasn’t called on at either of the two previous hearings), I submitted public comment via the online portal before Taix was moved to the January 18 meeting. 

In part:

“Would you tear down the Chinese Theatre and only keep the signs and forecourt? Absolutely not. Would you tear down the Avila Adobe and only keep the porch? No way. Would you tear down Central Library and only save the sphinxes and globe chandelier? You wouldn’t.”

I deliberately mentioned those three landmarks for specific reasons. The first is that two of them were nearly lost, and one would be affected by a zoning change City Council has been pushing. The Chinese Theatre would be affected by the proposed zoning change (and is uncomfortably close to the recently ruined Pig ‘n Whistle). Central Library, threatened with demolition since the 1960s, was damaged in a 1986 arson fire and could all too easily have been lost. The Avila Adobe was condemned almost a century ago and came far too close to disappearing forever, along with what survives of the Pueblo.

Can you imagine Los Angeles without any of these iconic places, all of which played a role in making the city what it is? (That would be my second reason for mentioning them.) 

They aren’t just a bunch of old buildings. They are part of our rich cultural heritage as Angelenos.

And what about Taix, a rare survivor from what was formerly Los Angeles’ biggest ethnic enclave, and one of its oldest? Does it cease to matter because the city’s French population was outnumbered by Yankees after the 1880s and the French Colony ceased to exist long ago? Shouldn’t that make its significance greater?

Is it really “just a building”? Or is the battle for Taix a microcosm of the battle for the city’s heart, its soul, its people, and its future?

Los Angeles does not belong to developers.

Los Angeles does not belong to its elected officials.

Los Angeles belongs to Angelenos.

God bless us, every one…and God help us, every one. 

(Except for the guilty parties referenced above. I’m pretty sure they’re all going directly to the Ninth Circle of Hell to face a fate worse than living in the dystopian Los Angeles they are helping to create.)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Save Taix! Fundraiser THIS SATURDAY!

 Dear Readers,

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know Taix is in danger. The site is large enough to develop without demolishing Taix (case in point: Dinah’s in Westchester or Santa Monica’s last Quonset hut). 

The Silver Lake Heritage Trust is kicking off a fundraiser for legal representation this Saturday, December 18. All donations are tax deductible. (Images and info courtesy of Carol Cetrone and the Silver Lake Heritage Trust.)

The fundraiser begins at 8pm Saturday at Luxe de Ville (no website), Pazzo Gelato, Spacedust, and Cosmic Vinyl.

No donation amount is too small - every little bit helps.

Do you know a good attorney who can help save Taix? Reach out to the Silver Lake Heritage Trust, or email me and I’ll relay your message.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Last Call to Save Taix: Tuesday, December 7, 2 PM

Regular readers already know that Taix French Restaurant is one of the final surviving links to the French Colony.

And that it was sold to a developer with a well-earned bad reputation. 

And that Mitch O'Farrell colluded with the developer to effectively gut preservation in LA. Said developer spent six figures on Mitch (this is a matter of public record, not mere rumor). The City Council blatantly ignored the Brown Act, too (granted, they do this more often than not...).

And that the LA Conservancy filed suit (along with Silverlake Heritage).

But there's still hopethe city has rescinded its previous vote, and will rehear the nomination next Tuesday, 12/7, at 2pm. (The Chili Bowl will also be on the agenda.)

As I've mentioned, I was not called on at either of the two previous meetings, and quite a few other people reported that they were also never called on in reference to Taix. 

So yes, flood the phone lines at 2pm on Tuesday. But don't JUST call in. 

Flood those inboxes, too. You can't make PLUM take your call, but they can't stop you from sending emails. Follow the LA Conservancy's list here. If you live in the City of Los Angeles proper, be sure to contact your Councilmember.

I'm not giving up. I hope you'll join me, and many others, by calling in on Tuesday and sending emails in the meantime. Echo Park CAN gain new housing WITHOUT losing Taix - or destroying legal protections for landmarks.