Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • May 2015

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • May 2015 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

 share on Twitter    Like Robbery Closes Bank of America Parking Lot • HPOZ Survey Underway on Facebook


Subway Construction Update ~ Robbery Closes B of A Parking Lot
Miracle Mile HPOZ Update ~ Historic Resources Survey Underway
Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You ~
A Message from James O'Sullivan

Miracle Mile Spotlight: Craft and Folk Art Museum
Joseph Giovannini's Critique of Zumthor LACMA Design a Must-Read
The Other Residents of the Miracle Mile (raccoons, skunks, opossums)
Miracle Mile Real Estate • April 2015 Sales

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In Memorium:
Chris Burden (11 April 1946 – 10 May 2015),
creator of Urban Lights.

[Photo courtesy LACMA]


Northwest corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Fairfax Ave. [Google Maps]


Subway Construction Update:

Violent Robbery Complicates Effort to Keep
Bank of America Parking Lot Open

Work is underway at the northwest corner of Wilshire and La Brea to prepare a staging yard for the Purple Line Extension. The project contractor, Skanska Traylor Shea, is constructing a temporary alley between Carling Way and Detroit Street. The new alley will redirect traffic west to Detroit, closing the alley exit to La Brea permanently for the remainder of the project.

Later this month, the artwork on the exterior of the former Metro Customer Service Center will be removed and stored for future use at another Metro location. Demolition of the Service Center, the former Blockbuster store, and the former Lawrence of La Brea rug store will occur in late June – and sound wall construction will follow.
Another staging yard will be located on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard. Metro plans to take possession of the Bank of America property at the southwest corner of Wilshire and La Brea by the end of May. Mitigation of any interior environmental hazards will be completed before the bank building is demolished. Metro is in the process of acquiring the property to the west of the Bank of America, which houses Albertson’s Wedding Chapel and other businesses. Metro expects to complete this acquisition by Fall 2015. 


Wilshire/La Brea subway construction staging sites. [Courtesy Metro]
Click on image to enlarge.


The staging site at the southwest corner of Wilshire and La Brea will be the most active of all the sites required for the construction of the subway extension. All of the dirt from the tunneling operation – from Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard – will be conveyed underground to this location for removal. The site will also house a plant to manufacture the grout that will seal the concrete tunnel lining.
In April, officers of the Miracle Mile Residential Association met with representatives of Metro and the contractor, Skanska Traylor Shea, to discuss noise mitigation at the staging sites, haul routes, and work hours. The MMRA is closely monitoring all aspects of the subway construction and continues to staunchly oppose nighttime work.
The MMRA has requested that Metro make the Bank of America parking lot available to residents and nearby businesses for as long as possible. The east end of the Miracle Mile is experiencing a sharp decline in available parking created by Metro’s activities and the construction of large infill apartment projects on the surface parking lots behind the Desmond’s and Dominguez-Wilshire buildings.

Unfortunately, this request has been complicated by a violent robbery that occurred at this location on May 7. This crime prompted the Bank of America to close the parking lot. The MMRA will make every effort to work with Metro and the L.A.P.D. to enhance safety and security measures so that this parking lot can be re-opened until such time that Metro requires its fulltime use as a construction staging site.
Metro will hold its next Purple Line Extension community meeting on Thursday, May 21, 5:30 PM at the Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Boulevard.
For additional information:
Metro Purple Line Extension Newsletter – May 2015


Miracle Mile HPOZ Update ~
Historic Resources Survey Underway

Boundaries of the Miracle Mile HPOZ. Click on map to enlarge.



Historic Resources Survey Underway

 MMRA VP Ken Hixon Speaks on the Miracle Mile HPOZ
at Chamber Commerce Economic Forum

The Historic Resources Survey of the 1600-plus parcels contained within the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) began two weeks ago. The Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) engaged the services of Architectural Resources Group (ARG) to perform the survey, which is a prerequisite for applying for HPOZ status.

Katie Horak, ARG executive in charge of the survey, reports that there are two teams doing the fieldwork and that each team is averaging about 30 properties per day. It is estimated that it will take approximately four more weeks to complete the survey.
The Miracle Mile HPOZ Committee is preparing a mass mailing to property owners explaining the many benefits of HPOZ. “Outreach is key to the success of the HPOZ,” says committee member Jeremy Matz. “We are planning a door-to-door campaign, house parties, and other meetings to capitalize on the groundswell of support that the community displayed at our January meeting and on our online survey.”
HPOZ Committee Chairperson and local realtor Mark Zecca says, “Many homeowners aren’t aware of how HPOZ enhances the value of their property. Buyers are attracted to stable and well-protected areas. It’s important that we spread this message.”
MMRA Vice President Ken Hixon was a speaker at the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum on May 13. The Chamber endorsed the creation of the Miracle Mile HPOZ and Hixon was invited to address the topic at the assembly of business and civic leaders.
Hixon’s speech explained how an HPOZ would stop McMansions and the wholesale eradication of rent-stabilized rental units. He also spoke on how the history of our neighborhood is a tangible part of its appeal. “The history of this place is what provides us with our sense of place.” Hixon said. “This sense of place is what makes the Miracle Mile such a great community to live and do business in.”
For additional information:
Miracle Mile Residential Association website: HPOZ Information
Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum, 13 May 2015: Miracle Mile HPOZ speech by Ken Hixon
Office of Historic Resources: Historic Preservation Overlay Zones


Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You •
A message from James O'Sullivan, MMRA President



Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You
A message from James O’Sullivan, MMRA President

On May 6, the City’s Planning Department recommendations on the Academy Museum project were released.  As expected, the department declared that everything is fine with the project and you – the community groups and Neighborhood Council – have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The traffic created by the project is fine. The inadequate parking is fine. The digital sign district is fine… Everything is just fine!
Of course, it is the Planning Department that’s wrong and they’ve now guaranteed that one more case will join the courthouse queue, attempting to force the City to obey its own rules.
A few weeks ago, I felt a bit of hope – guarded, of course – after a meeting with members of the Academy Museum team, including Managing Director Bill Kramer and attorney Bill Delvac. I told them there was support in the community for the museum but not for the attached 1000-seat special event center [illustration below]. I made the argument that people have been waiting many years for a motion picture museum and it was within reach if they could abandon the event center. There would still be traffic and parking issues with the 5,000 visitors a day, but I believed we could find a solution and I made several suggestions to get the ball rolling. 

Since its inception in 1983 the Miracle Mile Residential Association has been making good deals that work for the neighborhood and developer alike. We have always practiced the art of compromise. Kramer and Delvac said they would get back to me, but they never did. That’s too bad because there was a deal to be made by people of good faith. Now there is only the legal route.
I hope that everyone reading this who had concerns about the impacts of the Academy Museum on our communities understands that the City really doesn’t care what you think. Our elected officials loudly profess to value you at election time, but otherwise they do whatever they want – and then dare you to stop them.
There are good people who work at City Hall – but their reasonable voices are drowned out by the “go along to get along” mantra of the Wizards of Spring Street. When Los Angeles residents raise their voices to object to a project they are politely thanked for their comments and the project is routinely blessed with the magic words that sweeps all of our objections under the rug, “No significant impact.”
That is what the Academy purchased with the million dollars they spent lobbying City Hall: the City’s Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
The Planning Department’s recommendations are cause for celebration for all those supporting the Academy Museum and its special events center – but that feeling will be fleeting. Sooner or later they will be on the other side of the argument and they won’t know what hit them. Every neighborhood in this city is prey to overdevelopment, traffic intrusion, and infrastructure on the brink of collapse. The boosters of the Academy Museum will find themselves in our shoes one day, battling some gargantuan project that will dramatically impact their own neighborhoods.
They too will learn what “no significant impact” means. It is not a merely a technical phrase for grading a particular aspect of a project, it is also an apt description for the effect that the concerns of the residents have on City Hall.
The courtroom is now the only forum where the residents of Los Angeles are having a significant impact. The City has lost case after case: the 2012 Hollywood Community Plan Update was rescinded; construction was halted on a Target Store at Sunset and Western; the CIM Group high rise on Sunset had its occupancy certificate revoked and its tenants evicted; and recently a judge ordered a re-do of the Environmental Impact Report for the Millennium skyscrapers surrounding Capitol Records.
So, don’t be surprised when you see the Academy Museum project on that roster, too.
For additional information:
Los Angeles Department of City Planning: Academy Museum Recommendation Report
Park La Brea News/Beverly Press, 4/16/15: Mid-City West Nixes Museum’s Sphere


Miracle Mile Spotlight: Craft and Folk Art Museum


Miracle Mile Spotlight:
Craft and Folk Art Museum

In 1965 two cultural institutions arrived in the Miracle Mile, launching Museum Row: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and what in time would be known as the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM). LACMA made its debut with national media coverage and the cream of the city’s high society in attendance. But the real buzz was created by a new café and gallery a few blocks east on Wilshire called “The Egg and Eye.”

“Well, the original concept for The Egg and The Eye was to serve the omelets upstairs and while people waited they would go in the gallery. When they were in the gallery, they would encounter maybe a pot on a pedestal,” explained its founder Edith R. Wyle (1918-1999) in a 1993 interview. “The fact that it was a pot on a pedestal would lead people to understand that this must be art, and I think they got the message. This was a first. People did not display crafts or folk art in an artistic manner in a display setting.”

UCLA-educated, Wyle was an artist with a deep passion for folk art. Her enterprise was an immediate hit and in 1973 it evolved into a non-profit organization with a new name: the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
The inexhaustible Wyle initiated exhibits, workshops, educational programs, and created the Festival of Masks, a multicultural festival. In the process, CAFAM became a dynamic community center in the Miracle Mile – a place not only to see indigenous crafts and objects, but a place to learn weaving, jewelry making, and other skills. This tradition continues today under the guidance of Executive Director Suzanne Isken.
Isken [photo right], former Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art, came to the museum four years ago. Her bold and imaginative leadership has expanded scope of its exhibits and classes. Craft and folk art, in her perspective, are not relegated to the past – it is something that is being created today in dynamic new ways. The energy of the museum is obvious to even those passing by on Wilshire Boulevard. A façade project initiated by Isken serves as a very public canvas for Los Angeles-based artists, most notably when the front of the building was “yarn bombed” with knitted granny squares.

“When I first came here everyone kept telling me that the museum was a hidden gem and my reaction was: to hell with the hidden,” Isken says. “Our gift shop has always been very popular, but many people didn’t understand that there was a museum upstairs. That was part of our decision to bring the museum downstairs closer to the street.”
A native of Los Angeles and a mother of four, Isken exudes curiosity and enthusiasm. These qualities are evident in the wide range of craft exhibited at the museum – from the work of male quilt makers to an upcoming show featuring shoe designer Chris Francis.
“I came from a contemporary art museum. My vision, given my experience, was to look at more contemporary craft. We have an important place in L.A. at a time when craft is getting a lot of attention. People are really into making things and that is a natural audience for us: the makers.”
Isken views the Miracle Mile as a unique area with a great deal of vitality. “We see ourselves as a ‘hands on’ neighborhood museum. We keep our ticket prices as low as possible. We offer a craft night every Thursday night. We have free admission on Sundays. We try to stay connected to the community.”
Today the hot trend in automobiles, smart phones, and museums is to promote themselves as being “interactive.” But being truly interactive – a museum where you can get your hands dirty shaping a pot or prick your finger learning to embroider – has been a decades-old mission at CAFAM. It has always been a place that appeals to all of the senses, including a sense of community.
Craft and Folk Art Museum
5814 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
For further information:
Craft and Folk Art Museum website:
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution: Oral History Interview with Edith Wyle, March-September 1993


Joseph Giovanni Critique of Zumthor
LACMA Design a Must-Read

Footprint of proposed Peter Zumthor designed re-do of LACMA.

Joseph Giovannini's Critique of
Zumthor LACMA Design a Must-Read

With the Los Angeles Times cheerleading, county officials opening the public treasury, and the city’s design community maintaining a graveyard silence, it has been left to one critic to sound an alarm about the Los Angeles County Museum’s planned new building. Joseph Giovannini, himself an architect and Los Angeles native, has written a pair of articles in the Los Angeles Review of Books, dissecting Peter Zumthor’s black blob. 
Giovannini, who also was the architecture critic at the late-lamented Los Angeles Herald Examiner, has thoroughly examined the shortcomings, and indeed, the perils, of the new structure LACMA proposes to span across Wilshire Boulevard. Giovannini shows how Zumthor’s plan squanders valuable real estate – land LACMA slowly accumulated over two decades – that could be a source of an enormous endowment; robs the citizens of millions in precious county revenues; and, perhaps worst of all, fails to provide the Museum’s curators with the kinds of spaces they need to display art.  His critique is a sobering, must-read. 

Peter Zumthor at LACMA:
A Preacher in the Wrong Church

by Joseph Giovannini



The Other Residents of the Miracle Mile
(raccoons, skunks, opossums) 


[Photo courtesy of Pat Bowers Thomas.]  

The Other Residents
of the Miracle Mile

(raccoons, skunks, opossums)

Occasionally we are reminded that we are not alone, that we really do live in an urban jungle. The Miracle Mile, like the city at large, is home to an array of wildlife, including raccoons, opossums, skunks, and owls. There have been recent sightings of a coyote in Windsor Square and Griffith Park has a well-photographed cougar roaming its hills.
Many animals thrive in an urban environment. There is ample water and reliable food sources: vegetable gardens, fruit trees, garbage, and pet food left outdoors. Animals, of course, also prey on creatures beneath them on the food chain. Raccoons hunt rodents, opossums feast on snails and slugs, skunks dine on crickets and spiders.
Our homes and yards can unintentionally provide a welcoming habitat for creatures. They occupy unsecured crawl spaces and attic spaces, hide in sheds and garages, and there are decks and woodpiles to burrow under.
Most of the time the residents of the Miracle Mile, human and animal alike, live in harmony. But what should you do if a raccoon develops an appetite for your newly sodded yard [photo top]? Or a family of opossums takes up residence beneath your home? How do you protect your pets?
The City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services Wildlife Division website provides a wealth of information to help you understand wildlife behavior. It also offers common sense advise on how to secure your home and strategies to safely rid your yard of four-legged intruders.
If you need additional assistance you can contact:
Officer Hoang Dinh, Wildlife Officer
North Central Animal Care Center
3201 Lacy Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
323-225-WILD (9453)
For additional information:
Larchmont Buzz: Be Aware: Coyote Roaming Area is Bold
National Geographic: Feral Cities: How Animals are Going Urban Like Never Before



Miracle Mile Real Estate • April 2015 Sales


Miracle Mile Real Estate
• April 2015 Sales •

808 S. Ridgeley Dr.
5 bdrm; 6 bath
4,532 sq. ft
lot: 6,734 sq. ft.
listed price: $2,795,000
sale price: $2,695,800
sale date: 4/21/2015

1014 Meadowbrook Ave.
duplex: 3 bdrm; 2 bath units
3,514 sq. ft.
lot: 5,857 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,299,000
sale price: $1,015,000
sale date: 4/29/2015

930 S. Curson Ave.
triplex: 2 – 2 bdrm; 1 bath units
1 – 4 bdrm; 3 bath unit
4,860 sq. ft.
lot: 8,604 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,675,000
sale price: $1,750,000
sale date: 4/16/2015



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MMRA Board Meeting
June 4, 2015
@ 7 PM

Board meetings are held at
the Berch Lounge
Westside Jewish
Community Center

5870 Olympic Blvd.

All are welcome.


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Click on image to enlarge.
Miracle Mile
History Quiz

Architect Peter Zumthor asserts that a landmark in this circa 1924 photo inspired his design for a new LACMA.
What landmark would that be?

Click here for the answer.

Miracle Mile Farmers' Market
Every Wednesday 11 AM ~ 3 PM

Wilshire Courtyard

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President

Joseph Steins, Treasurer

Ken Hixon, Vice President/
Director of Communication
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Copyright © 2015 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


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