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St. Vibiana’s Cathedral Declared a Safety Hazard

Another step toward possible demolition of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles was taken Tuesday when city inspectors red-tagged the entire 120-year-old landmark, declaring it an extreme hazard because of seismic damage, a Roman Catholic archdiocese spokesman said.

The adjacent bell tower was red-tagged last week.

The archdiocese has closed the cathedral at 2nd and Main streets to the public for a year. The red tag makes that closure a city rule and also closes off the Main Street sidewalk and the parking lane in front of the church’s facade, said Father Gregory Coiro.

The cathedral is at the center of a dispute between Cardinal Roger Mahony and preservationists. Mahony wants the structure razed to make way for a new cathedral and says he is so frustrated about delays that he is looking at other sites throughout the region. Preservationists want at least portions of the cathedral saved in the new planned campus of church buildings.

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The Los Angeles Conservancy has asked in a lawsuit for an environmental impact study before demolition of the bell tower. The razing began last Saturday but is temporarily blocked by a court order. While some skeptics suggest that the archdiocese is exaggerating the dangers, Coiro said Tuesday that the latest city inspection shows “we have not been whistling in the dark about the conditions in the cathedral.”

Conservancy officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening about the red-tagging.


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