March 4, 2014

It grew and grew like some obscene square toadstool, swelling and expanding until it finally topped off, nearly three stories high, looming over us all.

Carleton Cronin writes about life in the urban wilds.

There it sits, large and ugly, all sharp corners, a charmless plywood box-like monstrosity rising far above its adjacent neighbors, wrapped now, as I look. in black tar paper prior to receiving whatever final exterior coating it will have.

More than an intrusion, it might be also the specter of things to come to the more gentler parts of West Hollywood, the previously low-rise section, West Hollywood West.

There is a belief, I should imagine, in the quickie-cheapie house erection business, that an unlimited supply of millionaires exist to purchase these houses.

That may very well be, for they do not stay on the market very long. A new neighbor, a young man with apparent strong financial resources commented that he believed such places increased the value of all the houses around it.

Only, I said, if what is produced is actually something of greater value itself. Remains to be seen.

Change is inevitable. Only fools deny that. However, when change is unbridled and allowed to run through a community without any oversight or check, the results can be overwhelming and injurious to the community.

West Hollywood west is not just a collection of old, single-story houses. The people residing there are often long-term residents with many friends and other connections throughout the area.

Many have remodeled their older houses, or rebuilt them, into homes, often with much character – not unlike the residents themselves. Thus, when the city allowed speculators to construct the many undistinguished “box-houses” they dismissed the very idea of “community”.

In an area which had its genesis in the 1920s, there is no lack of design history. Change has come gradually and with some discretion.

We are glad that the city understood this and acted to use its urban design people to view plans before they are rubber-stamped at the planning counter.