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Sunset Boulevard's Bates Motel May Be Coming Down

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The days may be numbered for the long-vacant Sunset Pacific Motel* at 4301 West Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. On September 15th, there’s a hearing before the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Building and Safety, which will decide whether to approve demolition of the motel. Nicknamed the "Bates Motel" for its proximity to Bates Street and its seedy history, the hotel has long been a magnet for crime, according to Deputy City Atty. William Larsen. Most recently, Larsen says homeless people have been charging people to walk on the sidewalks surrounding the motel. “They’ll stop and tell you that you can’t pass unless you pay $1 or $2,” according to Larsen. "There's one guy, who is nicknamed Reggae guy because of his dreadlocks, who'll physically block you, stepping two steps to the right, and to the left when you do." In another instance, Larsen says a different homeless man physically barricaded the sidewalk on Bates Street with a large phlanx of shopping carts-all tied together with bungee cords--and then demanded money to anyone who tried to cross. As Larsen dryly notes: "It is a crime to be impeding people from walking by."

While area neighborhood councils have long pushed for city officials to take action on the hotel, here's a new wrinkle: There's now talk that someone may file for historical landmark status on the property in a bid to save it. While not able to identify who these people are, Larsen says he has gotten “four or five phone calls from [different] people” who say they are going to file for landmark status.

The notion of the motel being historical is amusing to Bruce Carroll, vice president of administration for the Franklin Hills Residents Association, who also has heard chatter that someone may file for landmark status. Carrroll points out he’s a self-admitted preservationist who owns a collection of 1960s TVs. “I place a high value on not wasting stuff,” he says. But given the tiny room size and lack of parking at the motel, Carroll sees little in the way of options except demolition for the building.

Really? Couldn't this spot be transformed into that gym that Silver Lake residents are clamoring for? Affordable housing? “It’s so far gone that fixing it up would seem to be a waste of time,” says Carroll. “The only thing it could be used for is if the sheriff needed more jail cells.”

Kenneth E. Owen, Chair, Planning, Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee, Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Committee, also doesn't think the historic landmark preservation would fly. In an email he notes he's heard of no other recent suggested uses for the motel.

Through their attorney, the owner of the motel (listed as F and S Silverlake LLC, and a company with a Michigan mailing address, according to public records) didn’t return a call seeking comment.

According to Larsen, the owners could feasibly appeal a demolition decision made by the Department of Building and Safety, and fight the battle in court.

· Rumblings & Bumblings Responses: Bates Mystery Continues [Curbed LA]

**Initially, we called this a hotel, but clearly it is a motel.