Krekorian and Historic Tacos
You may remember the controversy where Krekorian's regular column in hyper-local news blog, Studio City Patch, was demoted from featured status because of revelations that the question and answer format feature (ghostwritten by Krekorian Communications Director Jeremy Oberstein) had created fake constituents who were submitting comments to the Councilman to respond too.
Later, we reported on a sinkhole in the NoHo Arts District in CD2 that was left to sit simply guarded by pylons and repairs were not arranged until I had to be really annoying and cause a stink about it.
Now, the closure of a beloved community icon, Henry's Tacos, may be partially blamed on Krekorian.
The Studio City taco stand has operated on the corner of Moorpark and Tujunga for 51 years. In fact, I remember passing by there every day as my mother drove me to my nursery school on Moorpark and Colfax. The third generation owner has been locked in a struggle with the landowner who reportedly has some development plans for the site. Unable to secure a long term lease, she turned to the community to seek designation of the 1960s style roadside stand as a cultural-historic landmark.
The City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission did indeed, by a unanimous vote, find the business and structure to be historic and recommended to the full City Council that such status be conferred. Next step would be that Krekorian, as the Council Member for the location where the business sits, would shepherd the Commission's recommendation through Council.
According to Oberstein, and other press reports, the application was heard before the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee. Krekorian asked the PLUM Committee to postpone the application pending the land owner and Henry's owner working out a reasonable lease arrangement. That was earlier this year and from that point, no further action was taken by Krekorian nor PLUM.
Lacking the Cultural Landmark designation, and following the land owner not coming to terms with Henry's or potential buyers (some of whom who reportedly agreed to all of the landlord's conditions), the owner of Henry's, Janis Hood (granddaughter of the founder), opted to shutter the business.
Once that went public, the ire of some segments of the community turned to Krekorian for the failure of the stand to gain the monument status. A remark one reader made to me was that it was a "pocket veto" by Krekorian of the status.
We spoke with Oberstein who said much of what had been written or said was "misinformation." "The challenge that Henry’s has faced is due to a private business relationship; it is not at all due to the status of the City’s historical designation process," Oberstein wrote me.
Following this, Oberstein released a statement from Council Member Krekorian, which basically reiterated his view that this was a private matter and that Krekorian was waiting on the two parties to reach agreement. Krekorian stated that he never heard back from either party and that he first learned of the closing from a Facebook post.
I asked Oberstein what would the normal procedure be in handling a matter like this. If indeed the Council Office had not heard from the parties would Krekorian's staff reach out to them for an update? I didn't so much get a direct answer as a repeat of their position that they had never heard from either party.
At the same time, Krekorian may have felt sensitivity that some were going to accuse him of doing the developer's bidding. Krekorian's statement included "I also feel that I must make clear that suggestions by some that I have “other plans” for the property are simply false." The Council Member states he is not aware of any plans for the property and that the owner has not sough any zoning changes, building permits, etc.
In the meantime, a number of Hollywood celebrities are ralliyng to try and save Henry's.
Bottom line: While the issues here are complex, and Krekorian is likely correct that the cultural status alone would not save Henry's, it does appear that a good amount of internal bungling may have led to perceptions of Krekorian's intent for the property and perceptions he and his staff will need to spend quite a bit of precious time reversing. Perhaps an initial follow up call to the parties early on would have saved the Council Member quite a bit of trouble.