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Tear-down trauma

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Thank you for the long-overdue article “Out With the Old” (Dec. 29). As a longtime Angeleno and architecture-phile, I have watched with heart-wrenching horror, sadness and amazement the perpetual and consistent destruction of historical Los Angeles structures -- from the old treasures like the Brown Derby, the Garden of Allah, to the imminent and painful demolition of the Shubert and the Boulangerie in Santa Monica, to the pervasive and gluttonous razing of perfectly lovely homes to make way for obscenely oversized mansions.

L.A. (as in Lost Architecture) has absolutely no architectural integrity, reverence or overview compared to cities such as New York, San Francisco or Southern California’s own Santa Barbara -- a city that retains a harmonious aesthetic simply because it has a strong resolve to do so.

Angelenos, residents and officials alike need a good, swift kick in the aesthetic head to reassess the priorities of lifestyle needs and some sorely needed reverence, appreciation and preservation. Someone needs to “just say no” to “erase-atecture!”

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Sherry Stevens

Venice

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Tom Larmore, part of the group fighting the historic designation process in Santa Monica, states that this process is “a fundamental impairment of personal freedom. In the process of trying to preserve some old building, so you can drive by it once a year and say, ‘That’s nice,’ you’re really impinging on somebody.”

Larmore seems to be unaware of a little thing called “neighbors.” Oh, and something called a “neighborhood” and a “community.” While historic designation does impinge on the homeowner, razing properties in order to build gigantic, characterless boxes that extend nearly to the property line impinge on the people next door, across the street, down the street and around the corner. Five, 10 or 15 years down the line, the homeowners move on, leaving these looming structures behind. The character of the neighborhood has been destroyed, but, boy, it was worth it for that 1,000-square-foot great room.

Sandra Willard

Los Angeles

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I am passionate about and degreed in architecture. I agree with inventorying and preserving historically significant structures, but such laws should not be misused to restrict development and individuals should not be burdened with the cost. If the public deems a structure noteworthy, it needs to buy it or otherwise provide the incentives necessary to preserve it.

In Santa Monica, the diligent Landmark Commission has been in place for more than 20 years and has done a thorough job identifying and designating structures. Tom Larmore’s ballot measure does not apply to structures that are already designated. The homeowners’ revolt is a result of using the Landmark Commission’s designations as an antidevelopment tool on top of new restrictions put in place a couple of years ago.

Daniel Abrams

Santa Monica

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As someone who has supported and done pro bono work for the Los Angeles Conservancy, I certainly support their goals. But as with everything, there needs to be balance. How important is preservation in exchange for personal property rights? Surely, the need for more clean, affordable housing is also important. Not every building needs to be protected and L.A. does need more housing. The same with jobs. The fact is that, while they have the best of intentions, both the conservancy and City Cultural Heritage Commission have allowed themselves to be used to fight development when the preservation arguments were dubious at best. What L.A. needs is an overall policy on jobs, housing and preservation, with equal respect given to these important issues.

Steven Afriat

Sherman Oaks

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