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Although the initial Taix landmark approval, with substantial alterations, was rescinded (the city violated the Brown Act), the battle is far from over.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

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