Letter to the Editor: Civic Club on demolition

hairshop2Civic Club Members and Friends of Independence,

The Independence Civic Club has a long history of taking the lead in protecting Independence, from leading the fight on water metering by the DWP in the 1980s to trying to ensure that our street trees are watered. 

 Now, the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has torn down a historic barbershop, dating from at least 1900, and is in the process of remodeling the Lions Clubhouse, which was built in the 19th century and served as the post office for the County Seat for many years.  Mrs. Nettie Fausel was the postmistress, with husband Max Fausel working next door at the barbershop.  The Fausels lived in the back, in an addition that is itself historic, with photo documentation from 1926. 

The DWP has proceeded without permits and without following state law, CEQA, which protects the historic resources that attract tourists to our town and enrich our heritage. 

 The Civic Club offered to lease the barbershop, and restore it and the front of the Lions Club to its original appearance, to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  The DWP did not accept our offer and has not provided any assurances that the proposed remodel is following these standards.

The State Office of Historic Preservation has communicated with the DWP regarding this behavior, in 2010 and yesterday.  You will be forwarded a copy of yesterday’s email also. (See email below.)

What is the County doing in response to the absence of permits, and to the destruction of a historic resource?  They need to respond rapidly and without hesitation to prevent further damage to our town.

I am urging you to call or email the Inyo County Supervisors regarding this matter as soon as possible.  Their contact information is:

            1st District         Linda Arcularius             760-387-2692     760-937-2486 cell            supervisor_arcularius@inyocounty.us

            2nd District         Susan Cash                  760-872-3408                                         cash93514@msn.com

            3rd District         Rick Pucci                     760-872-0917                                         supervisor_pucci@inyocounty.us

            4th District         Marty Fortney                760-258-6817                                         mfortney@inyocounty.us

            5th District         Richard Cervantes         760-876-4719                                         gtheart@yahoo.com

Also, please email the Water Commissioners  commission@ladwp.com  concerning this very important issue.  A LA City Councilman that has shown interest in Inyo County is Tom LaBonge   Tom.LaBonge@lacity.org    I will be forwarding the Office of Historic Preservation’s communication to him.

Often, the LADWP officials in Los Angeles are unaware of the problems and concerns in the Owens Valley, plus they provide direction to the managers up here, so it is important to broaden the awareness of this blatant disregard for process and history.


Nancy B. Masters


Independence Civic Club

From: Woodward, Lucinda [mailto:LWOODWARD@parks.ca.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 2:17 PM
To: james.yannotta@ladwp.com; gene.coufal@water.ladwp.com
Cc: Donaldson, Milford; Susan Brandt-Hawley (susanbh@me.com); commission@ladwp.com; jhart@inyocounty.us; Ken Bernstein (Ken.Bernstein@lacity.org)
Subject: Demoltion of 129 E. Edward St and Remodeling of 131 E. Edwards St., Independence, CA

Dear Mr. Coufal and Mr. Yannotta:

The State of California Office of Historic Preservation has been contacted by a member of the public residing in Independence about the April 26, 2012  demolition of the building known as the Hair-I-Am barbershop at 129 S. Edwards Street, Independence, California by the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water,  and the imminent  remodeling of the adjacent building known as the Independence  Lion’s Clubhouse, at 131 S. Edwards Street, also by DWP.  Both properties were identified by Caltrans in a 2001  cultural resources report for improvements to Highway 395 as contributors to a local district.  In addition, a 1980 survey carried out by the Inyo-Mono Association of Government  Entities identified other historic properties in Independence including those at 102 S. Edwards Street, 227 S. Edwards Street, and 305 S. Edwards Street.  There appears to be substantial evidence available in the public record that supports the historical significance of these properties.

As you are aware, Inyo County’s CEQA Procedures (Chapter 15.24.020 of the County Code) requires a discretionary review of demolition permits when the structure in question is more than 50 years old and may be of historical, archaeological, or architectural significance.   In 2010,  Office of Historic Preservation spoke to Department of Water and Power staff about the CEQA requirements associated with the demolition of the Hair-I-Am building.  Now the property has been demolished and we understand that the Department of Water and Power did not have a demolition permit.   The Office of Historic Preservation has not received any CEQA documents associated with the demolition of the Hair-I-Am building and we are requesting copies of any CEQA documentation prepared for this project.

We are further concerned about the proposed remodeling of the Lions Clubhouse.  Our understanding is that work is imminent and that the DWP has not yet filed for a building permit.  Without an application for a building permit, the public has no way of knowing the scope and extent of the project.  While we realize that building permits are ministerial under Inyo County’s CEQA Procedures,  the application for a building permit is required.  The OHP would be pleased to advise DWP on ways to remodel the historic property that conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties, the industry standard for rehabilitation.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Lucinda M. Woodward

Supervisor, Local Government Unit

California Office of Historic Preservation

(916) 445-7028

(916) 445-7053 fax



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