Beverly Fairfax, Wilshire Vista and Sacramento

| August 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

CELEBRATION of Beverly Fairfax Historic District features speakers including Councilman Paul Koretz, volunteer Fred Zaidman (top of stairs on right) and event master of ceremonies Steven Luftman (in white shirt, in front of Zaidman).

A festive gathering of local residents took place Aug. 11 to watch Fifth District City Councilman Paul Koretz ceremoniously unveil one of the new street signs marking the inclusion — on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places — of the “Beverly Fairfax Historic District.” The designation last year marked the culmination of a two-year community effort to obtain Federal recognition of what the neighbors’ official application states is a neighborhood where “its period of significance is 1924 to 1949, during which time the district coalesced as a Jewish residential enclave and physically developed as a distinctive neighborhood of Period Revival multi-family buildings.”

The 185-page application was successful, gaining the neighborhood — roughly bounded by Rosewood Ave., Melrose Ave., N. Gardner St., Vista St., Beverly Blvd., and Fairfax Ave. — a place on the official list of the nation’s places worthy of preservation.

The neighbors were motivated when they learned in 2016 of evictions in a two-story duplex by a developer who planned to demolish the historic building and replace it with four, four-story-tall luxury homes. In response, the neighbors formed “Save Beverly Fairfax,” and their efforts led to the Federal designation.

BEVERLY FAIRFAX Historic District is generally east and south of Fairfax High School.

A similar situation on Orange Grove Avenue just south of San Vicente Boulevard, in the Wilshire Vista neighborhood, has led to the formation of “Save Wilshire Vista.” See the accompanying article by resident Jane Galbraith.

Federal supremacy?

An unresolved hypothetical question is whether a Federal designation like a National Register listing may carry more weight than local city designations, such as those of our many Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) in and around Greater Wilshire. The question will be timely if the proposed statewide legislation (authored by San Francisco Bay Area state senators Wiener, Skinner, et al.) is enacted. Their bills have been viewed by many as potentially overruling local protections that currently are afforded to existing, historic, low-density residential zones.

Their legislative proposals, SB 50, SB 330 and SB 592, are widely seen as inimical to historic preservation. The demolition contemplated in 2016 for the historic duplex in Beverly Fairfax would be allowed, even encouraged, by the advocates of state-mandated increased densification without regard to local conditions and preferences.

Maybe a challenge over Federal supremacy can be avoided if these state bills are withdrawn, defeated, delayed or modified. Stay tuned.

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