City Attorney Shutters Two West Adams Heights Homes

Posted March 18, 2014

Two Historic West Adams homes are now in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.

Neighbors in West Adams Heights had noticed repeated police visits to the two “Agape” homes on the 2200 block of South Hobart in recent months, so it was not a complete surprise to hear that Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer had filed a civil enforcement action against the owners of the pair of unlicensed assisted living facilities for allegedly jeopardizing the safety and health of physically and mentally disabled occupants.

 Feuer sought, and the court appointed, the receiver to immediately relocate these individuals to appropriate living quarters. In addition, the City Attorney asked that the two houses, located at 2205 and 2217-19 South Hobart, be declared a public nuisance and be “abated,” which gives the receiver the power to make repairs to bring the buildings up to code.

“These residents are among the most vulnerable in our society and they were forced to live a daily nightmare,” Feuer explained. “We are bringing that nightmare to a close.”

Both of the houses are included as Contributors to a West Adams Heights Historic District that was designated as part of the former redevelopment plan, and later added to California’s list of historic properties.

The gabled Craftsman-style Kate A. Kelly House (2205 South Hobart) was designed by architects Sumner Hunt and A. Wesley Eager in 1905.

The residence at 2217-2219 South Hobart was converted to a duplex at some point, but the 21⁄2 story structure was originally built as a single family home. By far its most famous owner, starting in about 1938, was the African American actress Louise Beavers, who was one of the eight defendants (along with friend and neighbor Hattie McDaniel) in the important 1945 Los Angeles civil rights case, Tolhurst v. Venerable, in which Judge Thurmond Clarke threw out the restrictive racial covenants in West Adams Heights based on the 14th Amendment. Beavers’ home was both a social hub and a center for her growing political activism and activities. It is a very important West Adams historic resource.

WAHA, of course, supports the City Attorney’s actions to protect the welfare of the individuals who were living in these unlicensed facilities, and to stop the nuisance conditions that were also wreaking havoc on neighbors. But WAHA was also concerned that the receiver perhaps would not recognize the historic status of the two houses, so we reached out to Ken Bernstein, manager of the City’s Office of Historic Resources, who wrote back, assuring us that “In checking ZIMAS, I’ve confirmed that both properties are already flagged for historic preservation review, so a clearance for the Office of Historic Resources should be generated for permit requests.”

WAHA will continue to monitor the situation.