Newsletter: The uncertain fate of West Hollywood’s log cabin

The Lions Club log cabin on sits on property owned by the city of Beverly Hills in West Hollywood. The century-old cabin hosts some 30 recovery and sobriety meetings every week. But now Beverly Hills wants it torn down.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Jan. 17, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

There are hundreds if not thousands of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held across Los Angeles every week, in church basements and community centers and restaurant backrooms.

But few meeting venues are better known in L.A.'s sprawling recovery community than the humble “log cabin.” Which is exactly what it sounds like — a shabby wooden cabin located, against all logic, on one of the tonier stretches of Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Meetings have been held at the cabin for decades. It’s the kind of place where the person in the folding chair next to you could just as likely be a rock star or living in their car. And the cabin isn’t just home to AA — the nearly century-old structure is the site of some two dozen addiction recovery group meetings every week.

But now, as my colleague Metro reporter Hailey Branson-Potts writes about in a new story, the fate of the famed cabin remains very much in the balance. The cabin, which is located in the city of West Hollywood but sits on land owned by the neighboring city of Beverly Hills, has found itself at the center of a property dispute between the two cities, with a potential teardown looming.

[Read the story: “This log cabin is a haven for sobriety groups. Beverly Hills wants it removed” in the Los Angeles Times]


As Branson-Potts writes, the cabin has been managed by the West Hollywood Lions Club for decades. But, she continues, “Beverly Hills officials said they recently learned that the Lions Club lease expired in 1977 and that the longtime nominal rent of $1 per year had not been paid for more than four decades.”

There has been vehement protest from the sober community and beyond about the potential loss of the space. A petition started by L.A. nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse has been signed by more than 9,000 people in support of preserving the cabin. In the comments section, people wrote that it had served as their introduction to AA, saved their lives and felt like home.

A spokesperson for West Hollywood told Branson-Potts that the City Council was interested in paying “a fair price” for the lot and was primarily concerned with keeping it available for addiction recovery. The two cities put out a joint statement this week saying they were trying to determine a “shared approach” to finding space for the recovery groups.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The University of California is proposing five straight years of annual tuition increases under a sweeping plan to raise more money for financial aid and campus needs while providing a predictable roadmap of future cost hikes for students and parents. Los Angeles Times

In a new twist to one of the most high-profile — and longest — beach access battles in California, Hollister Ranch sued state officials Thursday over a new law designed to open its exclusive coastline to the public after decades of stops and stalls. The law, which went into effect this month, declares that the public must be allowed to enter the ranch by land and access some of its 8.5 miles of shoreline by April 2022. Los Angeles Times


How body cameras may have exposed the LAPD gang-framing scandal. After a review of images from the devices, at least 20 officers are suspected of falsifying data used for labeling someone a gang member. Los Angeles Times

L.A. homicides are down again. Homicides dropped from 260 in 2018 to 253 in 2019 — the 10th consecutive year the city saw fewer than 300 homicides. Los Angeles Times

After a rough 2019, Hollywood’s talent agencies are bracing for more uncertainty. Talent agencies are under growing pressure to raise capital to finance growth at a time of rapid changes in the media industry. Los Angeles Times

Grammys chief Deborah Dugan has exited her post just 10 days before the awards show. The Recording Academy’s first-ever female president was put on administrative leave by the organization’s board “due to serious concerns that recently were brought to our attention.” Los Angeles Times

The masterful tortillas stand out at this Boyle Heights taco stand. Los Angeles Times

For coffee shops in gentrifying areas, design matters. A look at three new places in South L.A. and the looming question of who any given space is for. KCRW

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Just a quiet day in the nation’s Capitol: For only the third time in American history, the Senate began considering articles of impeachment to determine whether the president should be removed from office. Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers will consider raising taxes on some of the nation’s largest companies, with the size of the tax increase depending on how much each company’s highest-paid executive makes compared to its employees. Los Angeles Times

The political mind of Jerry Brown: A new podcast looks at the former governor’s life and half-century in the political game — and Brown has some lessons he’d like to share. KQED

Jerry Please enjoy this 1979 photo of former Gov. Jerry Brown and his then-girlfriend, singer Linda Ronstadt, visiting a U.N. desertification program in northern Kenya.
Please enjoy this 1979 photo of former Gov. Jerry Brown and his then-girlfriend, singer Linda Ronstadt, visiting a U.N. desertification program in northern Kenya.
(Associated Press)

The struggling California State Fair is looking for a bailout from taxpayers to avoid insolvency. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal includes a $1.5-million one-time rescue “to offset short-term funding deficiencies” and $750,000 to study long-term solutions for Cal Expo’s problems. Sacramento Bee


A federal lawsuit alleges that two Santa Ana employees left two federal detainees locked and chained inside a hot van for four hours after returning the pair from their court hearings. Los Angeles Times


About 170 people who visited or work at Yosemite National Park reported experiencing gastrointestinal illness, with two of the cases so far confirmed as norovirus. Sacramento Bee


The first female coach in MLB: The San Francisco Giants have made baseball history by hiring the first female full-time coach in the majors. Alyssa Nakken will serve as a “major league assistant coach” under first-year manager Gabe Kapler. Mercury News

San Francisco Pride’s troubled relationship with Big Tech: Members of the LGBTQ+ organization passed a resolution to ban Google and YouTube from future parades. SFGate

“If the Kern County oil industry wanted to send a message, it did.” A record crowd showed up at a Kern County supervisors meeting in support of the local oil industry, which is potentially under fire from new state restrictions. Bakersfield Californian

There won’t be a Grizzly Fest in Fresno this year. The organizers of the annual springtime music festival say the event will be “in hibernation” while they continue negotiations with Fresno on securing a long-term agreement. Fresno Bee

Hungry in the Central Valley? After a longtime ban, food trucks can now get permits to set up shop in the Merced County city of Atwater. Merced Sun-Star


Los Angeles: sunny, 65. San Diego: partly sunny, 63. San Francisco: partly sunny, 54. San Jose: partly sunny, 56. Sacramento: partly sunny, 55. More weather is here.


“The adventurous pioneers… even in the early days had a curious prophetic feeling about the destiny of Los Angeles. Always one of their favorite sports, indoor and outdoor, was to make bold prophecies about the future of California.”

— — Boyle Workman, 1935

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.