Laurel Ave. estate could house artists-in-residence

Tara Laurel Park
“Tara” at 1343 N. Laurel. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

The 102-year-old estate on Laurel Ave. could one day be a home for artists-in-residence as WeHo’s Historic Preservation Commission reviews plans this week for the future of the property.

The home at 1343 Laurel was built in 1917 and was designated a Local Cultural Resources in 1994. The property’s front and side yards have been used as a public park since 2011.

Elsie Weisman gave the 7,000-square foot house and surrounding property to the city in 1997 with the verbal stipulation the property not be developed. Although Weisman never put that stipulation in writing, the late Councilmember Sal Guarriello, who was mayor at the time of the property transfer, confirmed those were Weisman’s wishes during a 2006 council meeting.

By that point, the city had moved ahead with plans to construct two buildings with 21 units plus underground parking at the rear of the property and also transform the main house and chauffer’s cottage into seven more units for a total of 28 apartments on the property. The city had even received a $4.2 million grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to build the project.

However, Weisman’s son, Richard Weisman, along with Allegra Allison, a longtime resident of the house affectionately known as “Tara” (because that was the name of the house in Elsie Weisman’s favorite movie, “Gone With the Wind”), filed a lawsuit against the city.

That lawsuit went all the way to the California Supreme Court, which in 2008 ruled the city had not gotten sufficient public input into the project. The city had already applied for the HUD grant before holding the first public meeting regarding the property; therefore the court ruled the public process was merely a justification for a pre-determined decision.

In 2019, City Council approved conducting a feasibility study on possible uses for Laurel House. On Tuesday, the Historic Preservation will review the most current plans for the property, which include:

  • renovating the first floor of the Main House and grounds to support an art gallery and community gathering space.
  • redesigning the garage space into artist studios or performing arts rehearsal spaces.
  • renovating exterior grounds to accommodate a small performance space and/or sculpture garden.
  • renovating and designating the second floor of the Main House into four, unique, Artist-in-Residence living accommodations.
  • studying the feasibility of relocating the City archives into the carriage house and incorporating a reading room
  • continue maintaining the passive dog area as part of the overall design of the site

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

To Participate by Providing An E-Comment:

To better facilitate the remote meeting, members of the public who wish to comment on matters before the Historic Preservation Commission are strongly encouraged to submit an Email to shouston@weho.org no later than 2:00 p.m. on the Historic Preservation Commission meeting day.

***Your comments and information will become part of the official public record. If you do not want your personal information included in the official record, please do not include your address and/or phone number***.

Note: E-Comments received by 2:00 p.m. will be forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission and posted on the City’s website as part of the official meeting record.

To Participate by Providing Public Comment by Telephone: This option is to provide public comment via Phone ONLY

1.      You are strongly encouraged to Email shouston@weho.org in advance of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting to be added to the Public Speaker List for the meeting.

Please include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on.

2.      Dial-in 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting (the meeting begins at 7:00pm)

You will be placed on HOLD in the Virtual Waiting Room until it is your turn to speak.

Dial-In:           669-900-6833

Meeting ID:    819 9763 5009 #

3.      Please Mute Your Phone Until You Are Called to Speak.  Comments from the public are limited to 3 minutes per speaker.

4.      You May Participate and View the Meeting Via the Zoom Platform:

When you enter the meeting, please make sure to turn off your video and mute your audio.

If you wish to make a public comment, please use the ‘raised hand’ feature in the Zoom application.  You will be called at the appropriate time. Please turn on your video and audio to make your public comment. Please join the Zoom meeting here:

·       HPC MEETING ZOOM LINK

To comply with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 If special assistance to participate in this meeting is required, (e.g., an American Sign Language interpreter for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing), you must call or submit your request in writing to the Office of the City Clerk at (323) 848-6409 at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. The City TTY line is (323) 848-6417.

Written materials distributed to the Historic Preservation Commission within 72 hours of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting are available for public inspection immediately upon distribution in the Planning and Development Services Department, please submit electronic requests to planning@weho.org during normal business hours or contact HPC Secretary, Sharita Houston at shouston@weho.org

This agenda was posted at: City Hall, Plummer Park, and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. For additional information on an item listed below, please contact Senior Planner, Doug Vu, HPC Liaison at (dvu@weho.org) (323) 848-3120.

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No, Nay Never
No, Nay Never
3 months ago

There are no capable artists in West Hollywood that would qualify for anything outside of the city. Pseudo artists in residence and the next thing would be an accidental fire and voila the historic thorn in the side of Weho would be history. Meanwhile it is an off leash dog park.

Joshua88
Joshua88
4 months ago

Certainly, they should have space for AiR, but other groups should also be able to benefit by this most generous gift from Ms Weisman.

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
4 months ago

I am in support of the renovation but would like to see more input of neighbors living in that area of “who” can rent out these spaces. Right now, the consideration is “artists.” Excuse me if I am not enthusiastic about the youngsters that are literally tattooed from head to toe, pierced everywhere & claim that they are artists because they cannot get a viable job anywhere but a tattoo parlor because of the choices that they have made in their appearances! How about a work space for people over 50, self-employed that are working! At least the older Gen… Read more »

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
4 months ago

Wow, no bias from you eh??? This is shocking.

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Smart

I think what is biased is giving it to only “artists” rather than take into consideration the rest of the population here in WeHo. I just put it out there for a workspace for 50 + however, like Richard K said in an earlier comment, I do believe that it is better to open it up for the “entire” community, that way nobody feels left out.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
4 months ago

WEHO has programs for gays, programs for seniors, programs for people with AIDS, programs for artists and so on. Take up an art if you want in but you didn’t have to slam others whilst giving your opinion.

Hopeful For A Commuity Historic Venue
Hopeful For A Commuity Historic Venue
4 months ago

In 2011 at a Public Utilities Commission meeting, I introduced the concept for Laurel House similar to a properly scaled version of Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills. Virginia Robinson’s property was gifted to the County of Los Angeles which operates it and provided a well qualified Superintendent who allowed the estate to flourish. Augmented by Friends of Robinson Gardens a community of volunteers that undertake producing multiple programs and fund raising efforts from events for school children to lectures on Landscaping & Decorative Arts , Art Shows and a highly respected Garden Tour & Home Decor Showcase as a Major… Read more »

Hopefully For A Community Historic Venue
Hopefully For A Community Historic Venue
4 months ago

***Correction : Public Facilities Commussion

maybe
maybe
4 months ago

Seems the building should be open to the public for events/classes and maybe house 1 or 2 artists-in-residence spots–and hopefully significant resources for seniors. I wouldn’t support any plan with LGBT requirements attached to it, other than it be open to all people with no racial or gender-based bias.

Michael on Havenhurst Drive
Michael on Havenhurst Drive
4 months ago

This city never gets enough public input. But now, just look at what happened to Lindsey Horvat and defunding the police along with the loathsome Sepi Shyne. Social media will also go after the city planners, and all the commissioners like they did with defunding the police. And hiring that ludicrous Block by Block loser security firm.

Richard K.
Richard K.
4 months ago

This wonderful property should serve the entire community and not just a single group or discipline. After renovation, the main house should offer community rooms that are available to everyone for meetings, classes and events, not solely artists.   What an elitist concept to turn this iconic property into an artist compound when residents of all ages and backgrounds are hurting for public facilities to further their recreational and educational interests.    The irony is there is enough room on the property to have artist studios and an artist-in-residence by renovating the carriage house and garages. To exclude the entire community… Read more »

Hopeful For A Commuity Historic Venue
Hopeful For A Commuity Historic Venue
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard K.

Hopefully you will give your thoughts at HPC this evening.

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard K.

Richard:
I like your idea of “the entire community” because there’s never enough places to hold Neighborhood Watch meetings or any kind of meeting for that matter! Opening it to all people is the right thing to do. I am tired of always being put in an identity group category!

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
4 months ago

How much longer is all of this going to drag along??? The city can build housing at their Santa Monica Blvd and Crescent Heights lot or one of their many other land holdings.

michaelz
michaelz
4 months ago

What happened to plans for Senior
housing ????
weho motto: “get old, leave town”

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
4 months ago
Reply to  michaelz

Maybe people should start planning for their retirement in their 20s and 30s, rather than wait for some handouts from those who did plan properly. I’m not sure why we reward people who made bad decisions in life. I understand there are cheap trailers for rent in Barstow and Baker and Blythe. Not sure why there is some entitlement to live wherever anyone feels like it.

Long Time Resident
Long Time Resident
4 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

Why do people in WeHo keep telling us Seniors and other low-income people to move to the desert? The economics have changed. It isn’t always about poor decisions that people have made. Some of us have lived in WeHo for decades.

disagree
disagree
4 months ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

You are cruel. I personally suffered a severe illness that set me back financially after saving all of my life. How dare you talk this way, Queen!

Manny
Manny
4 months ago

Are those the only choices for the property?! If so, I never, ever again want to hear that there is a “housing crises”…..Ever!

deja vue
deja vue
4 months ago
Reply to  Manny

Get a grip Manny. The city went to court over this and TARA WON! So move on….

Manny
Manny
3 months ago
Reply to  deja vue

What’s Tara? This article is about 1343 Laurel. Stay on topic.

Ranting, ranting
Ranting, ranting
4 months ago
Reply to  Manny

Without knowing the particulars Manny all we hear from you are rants about scooters and housing, housing, housing. Next time you take your dog to the vet please ask for a distemper shot for yourself.

Manny
Manny
3 months ago

I don’t have a dog.

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