David Ryu’s tenure has been a boon for preservation in CD4

| October 28, 2020 | 2 Comments

In last month’s edition, this paper went on record supporting the election of City Councilmember David Ryu to serve a second term. While Ryu has been reported upon in this paper for his work on an array of issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, etc., I decided to do a survey of his record on historic preservation. 

What I discovered was a solid history of advocacy and achievement in the preservation and protection of the historic resources of Council District 4.

Since assuming office in 2015, Councilman Ryu’s office shepherded through the creation of two HPOZs — Sunset Square and Miracle Mile; he has overseen the nomination of more than 50 applications for Historic-Cultural Monument status, the vast majority of which were approved; and he was the driving force behind the “Baseline Mansionization Ordinance” that has helped mitigate the growing population of “McMansions” (or “BWBs”—“Big White Boxes”), particularly in areas such as LaBrea Hancock and west of Fairfax Ave. 

There were some notable losses such as the failure to designate as HCMs the Bob Hope estate in Toluca Lake, the Lytton Savings building on the Sunset Strip, and the historic multi-family buildings at 412 and 424 N. Norton. The loss of these choice few is far outweighed, however, by the citywide protection of nearly 1,500 significant historic structures through HCM designation and HPOZs.

Highlights among the significant sites designated during Councilmember Ryu’s tenure in the neighborhoods served by this paper are:


CBS Television City HCM 1167: Designed by William Pereira, whose nearby LACMA campus was recently demolished, CBS Television City was completed in 1952 and houses eight studios. Still in operation, Television City was the home to some of the most iconic sitcoms and game shows such as “All In the Family” and “The Price Is Right.”


Tom Bergin’s House of Irish Coffee HCM 1182: This neighborhood institution nearly met the wrecking ball after it closed in 2018. Designated as a legacy business, the Irish pub was proven to have a “significant association with the commercial identity of Los Angeles.” In operation from 1936 onwards, it holds one of the two oldest liquor licenses in the city.

HOWARD HUGHES residence at 211 S. Muirfield Rd.

Howard Hughes Residence, 211 S. Muirfield Road

HCM 1123: Designed by master architect Roland E. Coate in 1926 for socialite Eva K. Fudger, the house was leased, then purchased by Howard Hughes in 1929. During his time on Muirfield, Hughes produced several of his most famous films, including “Hell’s Angels,” and lived in the house for a period with Katherine Hepburn.

Finn Frolich House, 5152-5156 W. La Vista Court HCM 1143: Among Greater Wilshire’s most unique homes, the Finn Frolich House was built on a residential alley off Van Ness Ave. Home and studio of beaux arts sculptor Finn Haakon Frolich, the house is notable for its bas relief depicting author Jack London. The narrow three-story house is reminiscent of seaside houses on the Mediterranean.

  226 S. St. Andrews Place HCM 1119: This important Japanese Craftsman home was built in 1914 for portrait photographer Albert Witzel, who moved from Deadwood, South Dakota to Los Angeles in 1898 and became one of Hollywood’s earliest celebrity photographers, supplying photos of stars to the “Los Angeles Times” and movie magazines. A friend of Charlie Chaplin, Witzel also photographed the likes of Theda Bara and Harold Lloyd.

Thank you for helping save our history, Councilmember Ryu!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Steven Luftman says:

    Thank you Mr. Curran.
    I too support Councilmember Ryu. For the past five years I have worked as a tenant activist and a historic preservationist in Los Angeles. During that time I have worked directly with the Councilmember and his office, as one of the founders of Friends of Lytton Saving, and my involved with saving Tom Bergin’s.
    I was also involved with the Miracle Mile HPOZ; Ryu’s actions not only saved a great neighborhood’s architecture, but protected over 450 rent control apartments. Ryu stood up the pressure of developers and other Councilmembers.
    He has refused to politicize the Historic Monument process, treating the Cultural Heritage Commissions as the experts in their field.

    David Ryu has been a true ally for tenants and historic preservation.

  2. Guy Langman says:

    Great article Brian!

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