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Effort to Preserve Norton Bungalow Court Gets A Lift Then Falls Flat

Artist Anne Hars with UpBalloon Project at Norton Bungalow Court
Artist Anne Hars with UpBalloon Project at Norton Bungalow Court

Efforts by preservationists to save the Norton Bungalow Court and Apartments, located at 412-420 and 424 to 430 N. Norton Avenue, got a lift of sorts this weekend from Silverlake artist Anne Hars, who installed bouquets of balloons on two courtyard apartment buildings that developer Wiseman Residential is trying to demolish.

Hars has installed balloons on doomed buildings to draw attention to their plight in the hopes they will be saved.  Her work is inspired by the little house in the Pixar movie “Up,” in which an elderly man’s home surrounded by larger and larger developments is lifted up into the sky and carried away by helium balloons.

An application for Historic Cultural Monument status for the Norton Bungalow Court project was scheduled to be heard by the Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUM) of the City Council Tuesday but was pulled from the agenda at the last minute, according to activists involved in the preservation efforts. There’s a chance, however, that the last minute decision could help preservationists by giving them more time to pursue other options…but saving the bungalows will still be an uphill struggle.

Last January, City Council Member David Ryu agreed to help save the building by nominating the Norton Bungalow Court for HCM status.

“I am for preservation of any potential landmark,” Ryu said in a January story in the Beverly Press. “There was a window of opportunity for this site to be demolished. All I’m asking is for that to be held off for the Cultural Heritage Commission to make a determination if this is historic or not.”

Ryu’s motion passed unanimously and the Planning Commission staff report recommended approval of the application, noting that “Norton Court “embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural-type specimen, inherently valuable for study of a period, style or method of construction” as an excellent example of the bungalow court multi-family housing type.”

However, at a March 16 hearing, on the advice of the City Attorney regarding of a legal technicality about a potential violation of the Brown Act, the Commission decided not to act on the application.  According to City guidelines, failure to act on the application by June 23 would deem it denied. Thus the PLUM committee pulled the item from the agenda.

“We are not moving forward on the designation because the Commission declined to act on this item,” Councilman Ryu’s office told the Buzz.

The City Attorney declined to comment citing attorney client privilege and the City Planning Department has not yet responded to Buzz inquiries for more information on why the Cultural Heritage Commission was advised not to act.

Norton Courts
Norton Bungalow Courts photo take June 7, 2017
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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