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Preservation and Property Rights

July 22, 1990

I've maintained my home in Hollywood for 40 years, still enjoy it despite many changes it has undergone over that span of four decades.

I read with interest of the efforts of the city's Cultural Heritage Commission to "save" the building at 1717 Vine St. that housed the Ontra Cafeteria (Times Westside, Sunday, July 1). That building, the home of Hollywood's first post office, was destroyed by fire a few months ago. The city has demanded of the building's owner, who already has a considerable investment in the property, that he invest still more to pay for earthquake reinforcement. The owner has decided instead to level the structure and put a parking lot there. Incredibly, the commission forced the owner to secure a court order to make that use of his own property. Superior Court Judge William Masterson reached the sound and correct conclusion that the commission had, indeed, abused its authority in declaring that the structure is a historic monument, thus shielded from destruction by its owner.

Displeased with the only logical and lawful decision the court could make, the commission's chairman complained that "The judge has made the wrong decision, without (even) looking at the building." Had His Honor looked at the building, he'd have been all the more certain that its owner should not be restrained from leveling it to make way for a parking lot.

I don't know the commission chairman or the property owner. My concern is the commission's utter disregard for the latter's rights and for inexcusable waste of taxpayer monies to defend the commission's groundless actions. To me, it is clear that the commission needs some personnel changes.

MARCUS M. HOOD

Hollywood

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