TAKING A LOOK: A couple walks by the Shangri-La Hotel on Ocean Avenue on Tuesday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

The Landmarks Commission agreed last week that a Swiss Chalet-style house is worth protecting and that some oral history about the Shangri-La Hotel deserves recognition.

Hellman House

The so-called Hellman House, a two-story Craftsman with a unique Swiss Chalet look, got a quick Landmark designation from the commission last week, becoming at least the 115th structure in the city to receive such protection.

Commissioners were mildly frustrated with the inability of historical consultants to nail down the differences between a father and son’s involvement with house over the first half of the last century.

The house was built at 525 Georgina Ave. in 1910.

Shangri-La Hotel

The Shangri-La got an addition to its standing Landmark designation as the commission recognized oral history that pins the hotel as the birthplace of frogmen, skin-divers who swam onto foreign beaches with just a knife and bathing suit starting in World War II.

Commissioners were also frustrated with the historical consultant’s ability to get specific details surrounding claims that William Donovan, the first chief of Office of Strategic Services — a predecessor to the CIA — met Jack Taylor, a dentist and waterman, at the hotel to discuss the formation of a Maritime Unit.

In the end, the commission accepted that oral history would have to do, and labeled the evidence as such.

Wilshire West Carwash approved for demolition

A car wash that’s had some trouble with labor laws was approved for demolition last week.

In 2013, Wilshire West Carwash owners pleaded no contest to a slew of charges, including failure to pay minimum wage. They agreed to pay more than $650,000 in back wages. Some workers got up to $21,000.

In 2011, an ex-employee of the car wash allegedly stabbed a car wash worker and fled the scene.

The commission is tasked with reviewing every property that requests a demolition permit. Unanimously they agreed, laughing, that the car wash was free of historic value and good to proceed with demolition.

San Vicente Historic District

Preservations are getting their ducks in a row for the creation of a historic district along San Vicente Boulevard.

Last year, City Council voted to make it easier to create historic districts.

Historic districts are made up of a group of buildings that, together, contribute to an overall historical significance. Once designated, properties within these districts are protected, making it harder for property owners to tear them down.

The council vote came as a result of rumors that a developer was looking to take out a slew of courtyard apartments on San Vicente Boulevard. The change to the Landmarks code revoked a landowner’s right to veto an application for the creation of a historic district. That provision was put in place in 2003 and not one historic district has been created since then.

President of the Santa Monica Conservancy Carol Lemlein told the commission that the plan to create a historic district on San Vicente recently scored an endorsement from the Ocean Park Association.


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