CITY HALL — A 58-year-old industrial building that was once home to the unconventional and progressive Southern California Institute of Architecture will no longer have protections against demolition after the City Council voted to repeal a landmark designation granted last year.
The decision came in response to an appeal filed by NMS Properties Inc. and Nebraska Studios LLC who argued that the Landmarks Commission erred in its reasoning to historically preserve the 9,600-square-foot utilitarian building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Ave. in February 2008.
The commission unanimously voted to designate the structure based on three criteria: it exemplifies the architectural school’s significance to the cultural history of Santa Monica and served as an important part of the historical development of the immediate neighborhood; it’s associated with Ray Kappe, the founder of the school (SCI-Arc) and renowned architect; and the building is a representative example of a 1950s vernacular modern building.
The property served as the home of SCI-Arc from its inception in 1972 to 1992 when it relocated to Marina del Rey.
Bill Delvac, an attorney representing the property owners and appellants, said the building underwent dramatic changes after the school moved out, including replacement of windows and doors and entirely new interiors.
“If what occurred inside the building, the education of SCI-Arc, is why the building is significant, then surely the interior should be intact to date for the building to be eligible,” Delvac said.
City staff recommended that the council uphold the landmark designation based on the criteria related to the significance of the school and Kappe and not on the architectural characteristics.
“While the building has been altered, it retains adequate integrity because the setting location and form of the building has not changed and using the threshold that’s recommended by the National Register (of Historic Places), it would still be recognizable to the historic person with whom the building is associated,” Amanda Schachter, the planning manager, said.
But Delvac said that Kappe has expressed that the significance of the school should not be an impediment to the removal of the building.
“SCI-Arc is not about teaching design or architecture but how to think about it and how to think about the building environment itself,” Delvac said. “SCI-Arc by nature is about change.”
City Hall settles lawsuit<p>
The council voted to approve settlement agreements for two lawsuits related to the Big Blue Bus.
In the case of Crow v. City of Santa Monica, the council approved a $31,000 settlement for an accident in which a bus struck a pedestrian.
Another $155,000 was approved for Jesse Whittaker, who injured himself after boarding a bus that had stopped suddenly before he could be seated. Whittaker reportedly fell and because of a pre-existing health condition, was hospitalized for an extended period of time.
New speed limits to go into effect<p>
Drivers at about a dozen locations in the city will now have to move a bit slower after the council voted to reduce speed limits.
The change affects portions of Olympic Boulevard, Ocean Park Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, Fourth Street, Fifth Street, Main Street and Ocean Avenue. Speed limits on Colorado Avenue between Ocean and Lincoln Boulevard and on Second Street between Wilshire and Colorado will be increased.
The new speed limits came out of a recent City Hall survey that looked at traffic patterns at 103 different locations. The state requires municipalities to conduct such surveys every five to 10 years to make sure that speed limits are appropriate for the design of the roadway and other conditions that are not readily apparent to the driver, such as high pedestrian and bicycle activity.