CITY HALL — Three so-called “kit houses” will retain their historical landmark status after a split City Council voted this week to reject the property owner’s appeal.
Located on the 1000 block of Ninth Street, the three detached bungalow houses are examples of the “manufactured housing style” popular around the country in the 1920s. The model types of all three houses were listed for order in the 1925 edition of the Pacific Ready-Cut Catalogue, according to a City Hall report.
The Landmark Commission in September voted 4-2 to landmark all three houses. Arguing the houses don’t meet City Hall’s landmark standard, property owner Marina Belokamenskaya, who bought the site in order to redevelop it, asked the council to reconsider.
Although three of the five council members present for the meeting Tuesday night agreed that only the front house on the property should be landmarked, they were unable to modify the Landmark Commission’s decision designating all three houses as landmarks.
Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Kevin McKeown voted against altering the commission’s decision, denying the council majority the fourth vote it would have needed to grant the appeal. Council members Bobby Shriver and Bob Holbrook were not present at the meeting.
“I think the Landmarks Commission missed the mark when they called it a bungalow court,” said Mayor Pro Tem O’Connor, who works as a historic preservation consultant. The back two houses, she said weren’t visible to the public.
In an interview O’Connor said she had doubts about whether any of the three houses deserved to be landmarked, saying a more in depth analysis should have been conducted. There are many kit houses all around the country, including a number of them in Santa Monica, she said, making it difficult to determine which ones should be preserved.
“There was no context about why it was important to Santa Monica, other than it exists,” O’Connor said of the property.
In a report submitted to City Hall, a consultant argued the site is not a significant historic resource because it does not exhibit exceptional characteristics of a period, style, or method of construction and is not an important work of a significant architect, designer, or builder.
City Hall staff had recommended upholding the Landmark Commission’s decision, stating in a report that the buildings should be preserved because of their association with Santa Monica’s social history and architectural character, and because they are examples of work by a notable builder.