The owner of Cheri Amour, the building on Norton Avenue that was rocker Jim Morrison’s last home in the United States, not only wants it designated as culturally significant, she wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will hear the request by building owner Cheri Woods at a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Plummer Park Community Center.
The building, which encompasses 7,329 square feet, contains five apartments. Woods intends to evict two current residents if her request to convert the rent-controlled building to a bed and breakfast is approved. One of the tenants, who is disabled, pays rent of $700.74 a month. The other pays $707.23 a month. Wood is working with the city’s Rent Stabilization and Housing Division to withdraw the property from the rental market.
Woods will rent out four of the apartments and keep one for herself. Bed and breakfasts are permitted in buildings designated as cultural resources in the city’s R3 and R4 residential zones.
In addition to proving the cultural significance of the building, Woods has to make the case that she would face economic hardship if she weren’t able to convert the building to the bed and breakfast use.
The city’s Department of Community Development, in a memo prepared for the Historic Preservation Commission, recommends that it approve Wood’s request.
It bases its recommendation on the fact that the building, which is at 8214-8218 W. Norton between Fountain and Santa Monica, was home to Morrison and his girlfriend, Pamela Curson, from the summer of 1969 to March 1971, when they went to Paris. Morrison, the lead singer for the rock band The Doors, died in Paris of what is widely believed to have been a drug overdose. Morrison was 27.
At “the time during which Jim Morrison rented the second story apartment at the subject site, the band was in a very productive period recording the albums, “Morrison Hotel” (1970) and “LA Woman” (1971),” the city report says. “At the same time, the Sunset Strip was thriving as the home of a new music industry, which included a new generation of music makers and music appreciators that oversaw clubs such as the Whiskey a Go Go.”
A document filed by Woods describes an encounter by one of the building tenants, Gisele Tobelem, with Morrison. “She came out of the front door of her apartment only to find Jim Morrison standing at the bottom of the staircase, smoking marijuana,” Tobelem told Woods. “In a neighborly gesture, he offered her a hit off his joint. She had no idea who this guy with a scruffy beard and beer belly was, thus rejecting his offer. After their initial meeting, she often heard Jim and Pam’s loud fights taking place in their upstairs apartment.” Woods also says Morrison wrote his famed “Riders on the Storm” in the apartment.
The commission also will hear a request to designate the building at 8866-8872 Sunset Blvd. between Larrabee and San Vicente as a cultural resource. The city’s Community Development Department recommends that that request be denied. That property now houses Take Sushi restaurant, Amarone Restaurant and the Hippocampus and Sound Check Hollywood retail stores. The Community Development Department report says the building, owned by Ronald S. Kates & Company, “has been significantly altered from its period of significance and does not retain enough integrity” to warrant the designation.
Evicting a disabled person to make a bed and breakfast out of the place? How about giving the two tenants their apartments and calling it good just owning the building itself? The owner’s karma might be better off, right?