Editorial: Au revoir, Taix. Los Angeles shouldn’t value buildings over people
Competing interests have been battling for almost two years over how to preserve the Taix French Restaurant in Echo Park, ever since its owners sold the Sunset Boulevard establishment to a developer who plans to demolish the faux French-Norman building and replace it with a housing and commercial complex.
That battle is now coming to a head before the Los Angeles City Council, and the city’s course should be clear: It’s time to bid adieu to the building so the restaurant can return — and more people can find housing.
Taix moved to its Echo Park location in the 1960s and has been a mainstay for weddings, funerals and family get-togethers, as well as a popular place to get a drink before and after games at nearby Dodger Stadium. But the sprawling, outdated eatery has been on the decline for years, with little interest in its banquet rooms and given rising food and labor costs. Those factors prompted the sale of the property in mid-2019.
To some, preserving Taix means keeping the recognizable building and restaurant intact. To others, including owner Michael Taix, the way to preserve the restaurant is to sacrifice the building and allow Taix to reopen in a smaller, more cost-efficient space within the new development.
“We’re trying to survive,” Taix told Times reporter Emily Alpert Reyes.
The City Council will decide this week whether Taix warrants landmark status and, if so, whether the building or the restaurant within it should be protected as a historic cultural monument. The latter would make it easier for the development to move forward, allow Taix to stay in business and provide 170 units of housing, 24 of which would be set aside for very low-income residents.
It should be an easy choice. There’s no point in preserving the cutesy faux French shell of Taix if the restaurant goes out of business. And there’s no good reason to forgo much-needed housing, especially affordable housing, just so people can drive by the old Taix building and savor their memories. Nostalgia is not a sufficient reason to reject development.
This is going to become a familiar fight. Los Angeles is a difficult and expensive city in which to do business. The economic upheaval triggered by the pandemic has only made it harder for independently owned outlets to stay afloat. The city can and should develop programs to help “legacy” businesses like Taix — for example, by offering subsidies targeted at small, culturally significant companies unable to keep up with rising costs. There are also adaptive reuse programs that could help keep L.A.’s quirky architecture while transitioning to more efficient use of the buildings. There are ways for the city to serve the interests of both preservation and progress.
Los Angeles cannot prioritize the preservation of buildings over people, their livelihoods and their most basic of needs. For decades, Los Angeles has failed to build enough housing, and now we have a crushing affordability and homelessness crisis. This is a city that has to evolve.
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