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County supervisors bicker over LACMA construction report

After an acrimonious session, the board requests details on how the rebuilding of LACMA could affect the La Brea Tar Pits.

August 20, 2013|By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
  • Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky speaks during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors session.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky speaks during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors… (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles…)

Responding to concerns that plans to rebuild the Los Angeles County Museum of Art could result in environmental damage to the La Brea Tar Pits, county leaders voted Tuesday to ask representatives from both landmarks to present details about the proposal to the Board of Supervisors within the next 45 days.

But the vote came after some acrimony between Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Antonovich, after Antonovich raised the matter.

"The board has not been given the courtesy of a briefing. Consequently, the broader public has not heard about the plans," Antonovich said, putting forward a motion that county workers report back with information about the proposal and its potential effects.

Yaroslavsky bristled, noting that all the supervisors and their staff had been invited to see a model of the plans at the museum, and that it was premature to know of any potential damage on the tar pits.

"I appreciate Mr. Antonovich's incredible interest in things well beyond his district, but he's entitled," the West Los Angeles supervisor said. "In all seriousness, this issue has been widely discussed. Every member of this board has been invited to the museum to see the model," which is too big to fit in the board room.

After the two supervisors bickered a few minutes more, the board voted 4-0 to request a presentation within 30 to 45 days, with the understanding that the proposal is preliminary and that some information will not yet be available.

The supervisors' discussion came after the chief curator of the Page Museum, the county natural history museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, expressed concerns that a planned reimagining of the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art could negatively impact the site.

A proposed design by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor would replace four of LACMA's buildings with a central building designed to resemble, from above, a splatter of tar.

Curator John Harris told The Times he was concerned that the construction would block off light and rain, affecting vegetation at the tar pits.

The project's groundbreaking is still years away.

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