City Council rejects landmark status for Bob Hope estate in Toluca Lake

Linda Hope wants to sell the five-acre property, with proceeds going to her parents' foundation.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The L.A. City Council has voted against granting historic status to the 1939 Bob and Dolores Hope estate after a heated battle that pitched daughter Linda Hope against Councilman David Ryu.

The Council voted 8-2 in favor of landmark status for the Toluca Lake estate on Tuesday, but the motion required 10 votes to pass because the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission recommended against granting landmark status in November.

“I’m relieved,” Hope said shortly after the vote. “My parents’ wishes were heard.”


In a statement, Ryu said he was “disappointed.” The estate lies within Ryu’s District 4 and is owned by the Dolores Hope Trust.

The councilman argued that the home held deep cultural import given that the Hopes used the estate as their primary residence for most of the entertainer’s 80-year career.

Linda Hope said she wanted the home sold quickly, with proceeds going to the Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation, as per her parents’ wishes. Ryu noted that a historic designation would not prevent the home from being sold and funding the Hope Foundation.

But Hope argued that historic designation — which requires review of proposed design changes — would devalue the home, narrowing the field of buyers.

After Tuesday’s vote, she said she wished to counter rumors “that we’re going to sell this property and put 20 homes or condos on it.” Current zoning prevents such development, she added.

Neighbors for and against landmark status spoke at the Council meeting, including actress Markie Post and Roy Patrick Disney, great-nephew of the late Walt Disney. Both supported the historic designation. A dozen veterans attended the meeting, also in support, and at Ryu’s invitation.

Among others, Bob Kurkjian, executive director of Bob Hope USO, a charter USO organization, spoke against the historic designation. Hope entertained military troops via hundreds of USO shows.

Ryu introduced emergency legislation in September to declare the five-acre property a historic-cultural monument after a buyer in escrow obtained a demolition inspection permit for the property’s outlying buildings.

The estate was first listed in 2013 for $27.5 million. The house and nearly 3 acres are now listed for $12 million, with the remaining two acres priced at $10 million.

Robert Finkelhor designed the 14,876-square-foot English traditional-style home; celebrity designer John Elgin Woolf expanded the home in the 1950s. The architectural merit of the home, however, received scant attention as decades of design changes had largely erased the native look.