To keep company while poking around during a recent L.A. stay, I took along a book on the history of Wilshire Boulevard. On leaving, my last peek was of Westwood Village, and I compared what I saw with the pictures of what it was like before becoming a modern metropolis. The book noted that early Westwood “in style resembled downtown Santa Barbara, as that coastal city was rebuilt after the destructive earthquake in 1925. (Westwood designer) Bartholomew’s partner L. Deming Tilton had worked on the Santa Barbara design.”

The first thing I saw when I got home was a newspaper photo of David Lacks’ proposal for the downtown Santa Barbara MTD transit center site development. I rubbed my eyes. Modern Westwood Village came immediately to mind. Are we destined to suffer the same fate?

I thought the point had, by now, been pounded home: that in Santa Barbara, size matters. In fact, the notion of “human scale” is the essence of our community preservation desires. What part of “traditional”, “small town ambience” and “human scale” don’t these people understand?

The transformation of Westwood Village from a charming, Santa Barbara-style community to a typical element of the modern L.A. skyline didn’t happen overnight; it happened one building at a time. While our community consensus clearly opposes more big and tall buildings, the response of many city leaders is: “Just one more; another big building is O.K. if it brings with it sufficient community benefits”. -Joe Rution


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