WeHo’s Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Monday night to pass along to the City Council a request from the owner of 8214 Norton Ave. that it be designated culturally significant. But the commission also agreed to note to the Council that its initial approval in 2014 came in a 3-to-4 vote. Current Commissioners Allegra Allison and Ed Levin are among those who voted against the designation in 2014.
Commission Chair Gail Ostergren said it was unclear why the 2014 decision was not passed along to the City Council for its final approval. The owner of the building, Cheri Woods, has asked that it be designated as culturally significant because it once was the home of Jim Morrison of the Doors. Woods has evicted the building’s tenants and wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. City staffers last year raised questions about the impact on its cultural significance of certain changes to the building. They include removing the balcony and the Spanish tiles that were on its staircase when Morrison lived there.
Ostergren said the Commission could not reverse its 2014 vote but could only decide whether alterations to the building would have any impact on it cultural significance. The Commission decided on a two-step process — sending the cultural designation to the City Council and, if the Council approves it, reviewing whether changes to the building make a difference.
Woods, who is being sued by the City of West Hollywood for harassing former tenants in the building, is controversial figure. Brad Napier, contractor who worked on the building for Woods, told the Commission that Woods “just causes problems to everybody. She doesn’t want to follow the rules.” Napier said Woods hasn’t paid him what she owes him and is selling the Spanish tiles that some see as part of the building’s cultural significance online as Morrison memorabilia. “She’s almost like Donald Trump,” he said.
Christopher Winters, an area resident, told the Commission that it shouldn’t take a cultural designation lightly. Otherwise, he said, the Commission would weaken the meaning of such a designation. Winters drew laughter when he ended his statement saying of Woods, “she’s a nasty woman,” an obvious reference to Donald Trumps’ comment about Hillary Clinton in the last Presidential debate.
Donald Anspauch, who lives on Norton, said Woods had illegally rented out apartments in the building on Airbnb and done work on the building that reduced its historic quality. Lynn Russell objected to the cultural designation, noting that while the building housed Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Curson, that Morrison stayed in many other places in West Hollywood.
Roy Rogers Oldenkamp, chair of the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Alliance, acknowledged Woods controversial reputation but asked that the Commission separate them from a decision about the cultural significance of the building.
The building, which Woods has dubbed Cheri Amour, encompasses 7,329 square feet and contains five apartments. If she is able to convert the building to a bed and breakfast, Woods would 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.
It’s immaterial whether or not Morrison’s girlfriend lived there. Although he is known to have lived multiple locations as a renter and couch surfer this was not his “home” as by definition of ownership. Aside from that although a pleasant looking structure, it does not rise to an acceptable level of landmark status. The apparent disarray surrounding the application, true motivations of owner put this in a very poor light. Efforts to manipulate the process tarnish the spirit of historic preservation.
Mr. Oldenkamp: Is this the best choice to support in WH Preservation Alliance’s mission? If so it is a sad fact and once again indicates that the WHPA is either trying to catch runaway trains, wander around in the dark or sing to a very minimal and disengaged choir. Fancy websites and lack of real community engagement do not a Preservation effort make.
This woman is trying to cash in on both the fact that Morrison lived there for a very short time and that she remodeled the building and she is trying to sell off the old things on Craigslist. She lists multiple toilets on that Craigslist listing – is one to believe they all came from the girlfriend of Morrison’s apartment? I think I smell a rotten apple and preservation is not on the worm’s mind.
One would think that an owner who claimed to care so much about the historic value of her building wouldn’t be stripping it and selling the pieces on Craigslist, as Mr Napir reported last night. The original stair tiles and the wooden balcony railings are for sale as well as everything else from toilets to bags of dirt and paint chips. (The architect’s report says that “there is lead paint at all of the windows, doors and trim” and the owner has bags of paint chips for sale to the public.) Preservation doesn’t seem to have been a priority with… Read more »