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LONG BEACH : City Issues Moratorium on Building Tear-Downs

March 24, 1994|JOHN POPE

No historic buildings in Long Beach will face the wrecking ball for at least 90 days, the City Council has decided.

The council approved a three-month moratorium on demolition permits at the request of Councilman Alan S. Lowenthal, chairman of the neighborhoods and housing committee. The committee will explore other options to destroying the buildings, he said.

At least six historic structures are slated for possible demolition because they do not meet the city's seismic-safety ordinance, one of the toughest in the country.

Lowenthal said the buildings, which include the Masonic Temple, at 835 Locust Ave., and the Insurance Exchange, at 205 E. Broadway, are made of sturdy steel-reinforced concrete and need only minimal strengthening. He said he doesn't want building owners under the gun to demolish structures that could be saved.

"Many of these (owners) will tear down buildings not because they want to but because they're forced into it," Lowenthal said.

Lowenthal said the housing committee will be looking at the policies of cities such as Claremont and Pasadena, which allow demolition only if, after rigorous examination, no alternatives can be found. The committee will present its recommendations to the council in a few weeks, Lowenthal said.

The action may be too late to save the historic Barker Brothers building. A demolition permit has already been issued for the structure, but Lowenthal said city officials will ask the building's owners not to destroy the building before other ideas are discussed.

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