Los Angeles

Neighbors Won't Let Decaying L.A. French Restaurant Die, Despite Owner's Wishes

Cruel NIMBYism hides in call for historic preservation.

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The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times is telling the city's NIMBYs to stop trying to use historic preservation laws to shut down a needed housing development.

Today's editorial is about the future of Taix French Restaurant, which has been operating on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park since 1962. Its owner, Michael Taix, is attempting to sell the property to developers, who want to replace it with a mixed-use project that would include housing and commercial space.

Taix wants to reopen in a smaller space within this new development. He told Times reporter Emily Alpert Reyes that this change was necessary for his business to survive because he cannot continue to financially support the current building.

But historic preservationists—or those who claim to be but really just don't want new housing in their neighborhood—have been fighting to stop the deal. Despite Taix saying that he can't keep operating this space, one woman told Reyes that she wanted to preserve the building entirely because she had such great feelings about having eaten there. Taix's livelihood is no match for her desire to "feel like [I] belong, and that the city means something to [me] other than real estate."

Her memories will persist regardless of whether or not Taix French Restaurant remains, and it's absolutely reprehensible for nostalgia to be used as an excuse to overrule somebody's property rights and to stand in the way of L.A.'s need for more housing.

Reason has taken note of several terrible examples of people in Los Angeles (and elsewhere) attempting to use historic preservation regulations not to restore something that's actually significant, but to stop development they don't like, even over the objection of the longtime owner of the business. Here, the Times editorial board is just not having it:

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.

While a Times editorial is probably a good avenue to reach these NIMBY types, I don't hold out much hope they'll change any minds. Most of the arguments against development in Los Angeles stem from a selfish love of the status quo from people who already own property and don't want things to change. Sunset Boulevard is a transit corridor and prime for this exact kind of development. This should be the kind of location where battered old buildings that no longer serve their purpose are replaced with bigger buildings that can help make space for more people to live.

But a lot of Taix's opponents don't actually want to solve the city's housing problem if it means changing the L.A. they know and love. The L.A. Conservancy pulls the typical NIMBY trick of insisting that it does support more and denser housing, but just not this particular housing because it's … not more or dense enough. I smell disingenuousness:

In addition to standing up for historic places, the Conservancy strongly supports increased density and new housing when it makes sense, especially if much-needed affordable housing is provided. In this case, it is a "lose-lose" proposition as the proposed project provides minimal affordable housing, the design and density achieved is underwhelming, and it needlessly demolishes a longtime legacy business building and neighborhood landmark.

The proposal is for 170 apartments on the property. There are currently zero apartments on the property. That's far from "underwhelming" density.

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  1. But historic preservationists—or those who claim to be but really just don’t want new housing in their neighborhood—have been fighting to stop the deal. Despite Taix saying that he can’t keep operating this space, one woman told Reyes that she wanted to preserve the building entirely because she had such great feelings about having eaten there. Taix’s livelihood is no match for her desire to “feel like [I] belong, and that the city means something to [me] other than real estate.”

    Well, surely if she loves the restaurant so much she’ll be willing to buy it from him.

    1. I’d bet the yearly maintenance cost of his restaurant she’s never had to support herself with a job. Either she lives off rich parents or a rich husband.

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    2. “because she had such great feelings about having eaten there”

      These people are evil scum, and do not belong in a free society. Who the fuck does she think she is? Because she likes someone else’s business, she can use the government gun to do what she wants.

      1. No, she’s fairly typical. The “evil scum” are the politicians that cater to her denial of the rights of others.

        1. You get that sort of opinion from a lot of people because such questions are presented to them as a legitimate choice. They’re like, “Well, as long as you’re asking me, I’d like the outcome to be….” There’s a small number of people who are the evil scum because they get it onto the agenda. Yes, they’re politicians in the broad sense, but they’re not always elected or appointed office holders. Once the question is on the agenda, people assume either choice is equally legitimate, or they wouldn’t be asking it, right?

      2. What the restaurant should do is give her the worst possible dining experience they can legally give her from here going forward. Then she will not longer have fond memories of eating there, and then maybe she’ll stop arguing against the restaurant owner.
        At the very least, they should put a photo of her up on the wall like she’s a dine-n-dasher.

        1. The restaurant should contract with a social-service agency to serve meals to the homeless.

        2. Better yet, take down their sign, vacate the building, and move their cooking operations to one of the many area “ghost kitchens” where their food is only available by delivery (or in a few places, takeout). If they own the existing building, rent it out to a Mexican Seafood restaurant instead (that part of town already has many such places, good luck getting a new one declared a “landmark”).

          Might even be a more profitable model for the owner of the place.

        3. No she will report the restaurant for a micro-aggression, and get it heavily fined and cancelled from any social media advertising while it insisting it stay open “because of the find dining memories I have there.”*

          * = code for “I don’t want a bunch of lower income people of color living right near my house…I mean, I support them and all, but not when it’s at ‘my expense’ – do you think I am crazy? What kind of shitlib would I be?”

    3. That was my immediate thought as well. If she likes it that much, she should put her money where her mouth is. If she can’t afford to buy the place outright, organize a historical society of like-minded nostalgists who will buy and maintain it forever.

      If she can’t even come up with that much money, then she clearly doesn’t want it enough.

    4. What’s the point in having a government if you have to spend your own money to do what you want? Much cheaper to have some bureaucrats do it for you.

  2. I wonder what all those people who claim to love the restaurant so much were doing for the past year when insane tyrants decided to put it (and most other restaurants not owned by huge corporations) out of business?

  3. The proposal is for 170 apartments on the property. There are currently zero apartments on the property. That’s far from “underwhelming” density.

    170 apartments – underwhelming
    171 apartments – Too much! Think of the traffic!

  4. Government is just the things we choose to do together, and in this case we’re choosing to deprive a man of the use of his property.

    1. Everyone does this. Show me a property owner and I’ll show you someone who calls on the government to prevent what their neighbor can do with their property.

      1. Show me a Chipper and I’ll show you a lying piece of lefty shit.

  5. Looks like a dilapidated, run down building. Likely at huge risk of a catastrophic fire.

    1. Shame about the building’s grease fire next week.

      1. Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing….

  6. All of those Historic whatever laws are unconstitutional and immoral, and those people can fuck right off. If you want something ‘preserved’ so bad you can fucking pay for it yourself

  7. Maybe he can build his replacement restaurant at Galt’s Gulch.

  8. “…because she had such great feelings about having eaten there…no match for her desire to “feel like [I] belong, and that the city means something to [me] other than [YOUR] real estate.”

    Classic, just fucking classic

    When do we get to kill these worthless scum?

  9. As much as the children in charge of this country think that anything before 2001 is ancient history… a building erected in the 60s is NOT historic! Jeepers cripes! I used to work in a marble bank building from the 1880s, across the street from an 1860s opera house. Man were those a pain in the ass. We got flooded and we couldn’t repair the buildings without exact replicas of the original mouldings.

    People who get hardons over historic designations need to find new fetishes to wank to. Maybe old trains or sumthing.

    1. They wank to those too.

      What they really wank to though is the astronomical amount of money their property is worth and anything that would lower that by even a fraction (I’m not sure that’s even the case with this number of units in a city of over 4M people) is enough to drive them over the edge.

      I’d like to start declaring all of these assholes’ houses as historical landmarks just so they have to jump through all of the hoops to install a new bathroom sink or redo their driveways. Even if it just made them hire a lawyer and file paperwork it would be worth it.

    2. My house was built in 1924. Also not historic. There are several other houses and other buildings in the area from the same time period – within a decade or so. Similar construction type as well, so it’s not exactly a master example of its particular style of architecture.

      I’m just glad that we haven’t been designated as a historic district yet. Those are the worst. There are occasionally valid (mostly tax) reasons why the owner of a large commercial property might want to put their own building on some flavor of historic register. But when your whole neighborhood gets declared as historic, it’s like getting caught up in some evil public HOA that you never signed up for.

      Every improvement you want to make has to go before a board made up of the type of people who want to sit on historic preservation district boards. Sometimes they are professionals, sometimes activists, sometimes just busybodies. In some cases we’ve run into architects we’re in direct competition with who get themselves elected or appointed to these boards. Fun times.

  10. A lot of these must be very liberal women or trannies. The only ones with bugs up their asses.

    1. Surprised that anyone in LA still eats French cuisine, it’s soooo dated now that I don’t even think hipsters would think it’s retro chic, and PETA would be sure to have an issue with frog legs, rabbit, and horse meat.

      1. Their governor likes eating at French restaurants, or maybe not any more…

      2. “..frog legs, rabbit, and horse meat.”

        And just what is foie gras, chopped liver…wait.

  11. Money talks. Seems very suspicious that NIMByS would come out of the woodwork like this against a smallish development in a huge city. I’m guessing there’s another developer with his eye on it who’s behind this

  12. There is a strong wave of insanity in Echo Park. Many neighbors turned out to protest the clearing of a massive homeless encampment around EP Lake a month or so ago; 182 were arrested at the protest. When the park was cleared, the city removed over 35 tons of waste, including over 700 pounds of “biologic” waste. Crime in the neighborhood dropped dramatically in the weeks after the clearance.

    This is what the neighborhood was *protesting*.

    1. It’s hard for me to believe that people actually want homeless encampments in local parks.
      In my south Florida neighborhood, the police finally moved against the homeless after months of citizen complaints.
      I can’t tell you how much nicer it is I have the full use of the park again without mentally ill people asking you for money and harassing you while you’re walking your dog.
      The reduction in crime is just the icing on the cake

      1. @docduracoat
        In my south Florida neighborhood…

        Hmmm, John Prince Park?

  13. Here a thought. Offer to put a nice plaque on the new building commemorating the the old building. Maybe have an auction let the neighbor buy a piece of the old building and then bulldoze the rest.

  14. How much you wanna bet the people complaining that the preservationists won’t let them build have their anti-gentrification lawsuit already lined up for AFTER they win and it gets built?

    Because preservation is bad when you’re trying to preserve the neighborhood, but it’s good when done after the neighborhood declines into a ghetto.

    1. It’s like Ned Flanders says after his house is destroyed by a hurricane….I’ve done everything the Bible says! Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! What more could I do?

      The answer is nothing…when the nanny staters decide to come for you, they will not stop until they have you.

  15. Surprised no one has pointed out that older buildings like that aren’t built to modern fire codes. Could burn down anytime…

    1. That would be a shame if it happened…

    2. My uncle was FDNY, and had become an inspector, and his coverage included the WTC. He said the Port Authority literally could not sell those 2 buildings because they were no longer up to fire code on something because of when they were built.

      Maybe 9/11 was nothing more than the biggest insurance fire ever…

  16. Good lord, that is one ugly building.

  17. After reading this post i feel so sad. I wish all be good.

  18. Even if it was being replaced by a luxury high-rise it would still help with affordability. It would allow other luxury housing to move downmarket and satisfy demand for more affordable housing; today’s low income housing is typically yesterday’s high income housing.

  19. After reading this post I feel so sad. I wish all be good.

  20. Essentially they are telling the owner you own the property but not the rights of what to do with it. Just another version of socialism. Private ownership of property with no property rights.

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