DEAR WEHO: Demolishing temple complex raises preservation concerns

Hollywood Temple Beth El, 1317 N. Crescent Heights Blvd.

Dear Planning Commissioners and City Staff:

The long-serving – since 1952– and culturally significant Temple Beth-El and three related buildings on Crescent Heights near Fountain are slated for demolition, meriting only the briefest of mentions on Page 6 (of 20) of the staff report:

The existing church built in 1952 was reviewed during the 2016 Citywide Commercial Historic Resources Survey and found to not be eligible for designation as a state or local cultural resource.

Members of West Hollywood’s preservation community are raising these questions:

1.  Where is the documentation and analysis in the city’s 2016 survey for this conclusion regarding Temple Beth El, and the three adjacent buildings, slated for demolition? 

Appendix III, Page 105 of this survey lists the address below:

1305 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., APN 5554-008-015, Construction Date 1968, 6Z.  (“6Z” is a code indicating not being eligible for historic designation through survey evaluation.)

Does this 6Z determination cover all four existing structures that are now apparently lumped together for the new 1317 N. Crescent Heights project?

These structures include the corner West Hollywood College Preparatory School, the Temple Beth-El Main Synagogue, Sapper Hall/Chapel, and Neman Hall/Touro College which appear to have been built at different times.

 2.  Where are the official Department of Parks and Recreation forms that would justify the code “6Z’?   Did the survey’s contractor – GPA Consulting – prepare forms for the FOUR buildings set for demolition, including historic Temple Beth- El?

To ensure government transparency and historical accuracy, the Planning Commission should get answers to these questions before approving this project.

Something is awry here. Temple Beth-El, as well as the other three structures, warrants having a specific Historic Resource Assessment (HRA) conducted before any decisions are made about the four demolitions.

–Victor Omelczenko, WHPA Board President

This issue is being discussed at the Thursday, Nov. 17 Planning Commission meeting that begins at 6:30pm.  See Agenda Item 10.B. at this link for more information. 

https://weho.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?event_id=1406

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About Victor Omelczenko
Victor Omelczenko has lived in West Hollywood going on two decades during which he’s served as a Public Facilities Commissioner, an advocate for bicycling and historic preservation, and someone interested in things occurring beyond his nice rent-stabilized courtyard building in Center City.

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CHLOE ROSS
CHLOE ROSS
9 days ago

Since when are houses of worship demolished? This, BTW, is a Jewish Temple, shul, synagogue. It is a place of worship. Why is it on the demolition block? Not enough Jews to merit its existence? It only takes 10. A school as well? Seems like an asset. This is the first I have heard about this – my fault as I am sure it has been discussed publicly, but what’s the story? Who, why and what is the reason for this? I. am happy to be more informed and as a Jew, I am obliged to seek much more information.… Read more »

The Truth of this Demonic Venture
The Truth of this Demonic Venture
9 days ago
Reply to  CHLOE ROSS

Most of the details, excepting those skillfully eradicated, can be seen in the Staff Report and by watching the Planning Commission Hearing . View Public Comment to begin and then skip to the agenda item. Testimony by staff and architect applicant are first followed by public comments and the very painful bewilderment of members of the Temple congregation. The competing interest is the property owner IAJC/IAJF who not only are social event planners but now developers as well. Recently passed project on the NE corner of Crescent Heights and Fountain parking lot where their congregation, and guests stumbled through tree… Read more »

Bad Faith
Bad Faith
9 days ago

Beyond the obvious preservation concerns is the very real eviction and erasure of the Jewish Congregation and school invaluable to the community. Outrageously orchestrated in Bad Faith with possible collusion by the City. The Historic Preservation Expert(s) GPA did not make an appearance at Planning Commission, which generally occurs to offer expertise. This seemed peculiar.

Mr. Preservation Alliance
Mr. Preservation Alliance
11 days ago

So where was Mr. Preservation Alliance and his membership? Nary a single representative. Unforgivable.

Cropping
Cropping
12 days ago

Cropping is essential in presenting any photograph.
The trash cans are not seeking cultural recognition.

Cropping
Cropping
12 days ago
Reply to  Cropping

Since we don’t want to eliminate the lush trees, perhaps photoshop would be a better idea.

Michael
Michael
12 days ago

Temple Beth El is not a church. It’s a synagogue, or shul, or house of worship.

Tanya Shlimak
Tanya Shlimak
10 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Exactly
It’s unprecedented to demolish the religious Temple for Jewish community in West Hollywood.
A petition needs to be published, so people can raise their voice

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