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Elliott Smith's Illegal Attic Bathroom and Other Tales of the Los Feliz Snow White Cottages

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The LA Times digs the dirt on Los Feliz's Snow White cottages, which are thought to have housed Disney employees in the thirties while they were working on Snow White around the corner on Hyperion. The storybook bungalow court is also known as Mulholland Drive's Sierra Bonita apartments. In reality the eight cottages belong to Sylvia Helfert, who bought them in 1976 for $140,000. (A one bedroom was renting for $1,850 last year.) Our favorite story is about musician Elliott Smith, who rented two different cottages, and whose legacy there is an inaccessible clawfoot bathtub:

[He] later lived in another cottage, 2906 Griffith Park Blvd., now occupied by Simon Bennett...Helfert cut a hole in Smith's living room in the 1990s, installed circular stairs and finished the attic, replete with toilet, huge pedestal sink and monstrous, clawfoot bathtub. "Smith wrote a lot of songs in that attic," said Bennett, who works in music licensing.

Regarding the renovation, Helfert said: "I never do anything according to the rules. Anything you can do wrong, I've done. And I revel in that." "Around 2000, the [Housing D]epartment asked Helfert if she had a permit for the renovation. Helfert told the department, 'It's always been like this.' (She paused, then added, 'You know, I lied.') ...Smith hung a "no trespassing" sign on his door to keep inspectors out, but another tenant pushed Helfert to obtain historic status for the property and expressed concern about the unpermitted renovation. Eventually Helfert removed the stairs and patched the hole. Bennett said the clawfoot tub, however, is still in the attic.

And more weird stories from the Snow White cottages: -- When Helfert bought them, they were all pink.

-- Helfert couldn't get insurance on the haphazard-looking storybook roofs. Safeco turned her down, but then she says she got a call from the company's president: "The executive explained that as a boy living nearby, he watched workers break the shingles, singe the edges and place them in a random pattern, Helfert said. The insurance executive said the roofs were in excellent condition, so Helfert could get a policy after all."

-- Helfert got entitlements to do a condo conversion in the late seventies and put them up for sale for $69,000 each. None of them sold and the entitlements have lapsed.

-- She fields calls from wannabe buyers "every few days" and quotes the price at $10-12 million.
· Curiosity for Rent: Snow White cottages in Silver Lake [LAT]
· Another Snow White Cottage in Los Feliz [Curbed LA]