City staff are recommending officials deny an application to create the City’s fifth historic district citing a lack of consistency within the district and an abundance of similar buildings in the area.
The Santa Monica Conservancy applied to designate the buildings, which are spread over five adjacent lots, as a historic district. They were built between 1906 and 1936 and many were spurred by the creation of Ocean Park Boulevard, then dubbed Central Avenue, in 1917. The buildings are in the Late Victorian Cottage, Craftsman and Mission Revival styles, according to the Conservancy.
The Landmarks Commission will hold a public hearing on the application Monday, May 13 to consider their recommendation to City Council. Staff is recommending that Commission forward a letter to City Council denying the application to create the historic district. They said the buildings are too varied in architectural style and are similar to other small groupings of early 20th century homes in Ocean Park.
“The grouping of properties do not appear strongly unified aesthetically through its architectural style and scale to contribute to each other cohesively as a district,” staff wrote in a report on the application.
Staff also reject the Conservancy’s claim that the buildings exemplify the pattern in which Ocean Park developed. The Conservancy writes in its application that because of their relationship to the opening of Ocean Park Boulevard, they are “prime, intact examples of the final build-out of the Ocean Park neighborhood.”
“Road modernization projects such as the re-grading of Ocean Park Boulevard in the late 1960s and the associated construction of the 4th Street overpass, and widening of 4th Street have altered the residential character of the immediate area and does not appear to retain its original setting during its period of development,” staff wrote.
The Conservancy maintains that the conversion of Ocean Park Boulevard did not impact the character of the proposed district.
“Typically, alterations such as these highway improvements are seen as the end of historic integrity of a district in which the initial development was 100 or more years ago,” the organization wrote in its application. “But these changes are themselves fifty years old, and the character of the neighborhood has shown great resilience in the midst of those changes.”
Staff also recommended against creating the City’s fourth historic district, a group of bungalows on 11th Street, last December for similar reasons. The Landmarks Commission voted in favor of the 11th Street district and City Council unanimously approved it.
If the Ocean Park district is approved, it would become the third historic district created in the past four years following a rule change that allows districts to be formed without a vote by property owners. The first district created after that change is the largest in the city, consisting of 40 properties along San Vicente Boulevard.
Below is a list of properties that would comprise the Ocean Park district:
2506-2516 4th St.: These bungalows built between 1903 and 1925 have been subdivided into a condominium complex is identified on the City’s historic resource inventory as eligible for landmarking as a rare bungalow court.
2518 4th St.: This 1936 Spanish Colonial Revival triplex was designated as a structure of merit in 2017 based on its architecture and property type.
2524 4th St.: This Mission Revival bungalow built in 1917 is eligible for landmarking based on its property type and because is conveys development patterns in Ocean Park.
2525 4th St.: This flat-roofed Mission Revival bungalow that dates to 1922 is eligible for landmarking because it conveys development patterns in Ocean Park.
2528 4th St. and 317, 319 and 321 Ocean Park Blvd.: This cluster of 1920s cottages are not eligible for landmarking, except for 317 Ocean Park Blvd., because it conveys development patterns in the neighborhood.