A group called Save Valley Village has sued the city of Los Angeles over the demolition of a small house in a Valley Village backyard where Marilyn Monroe lived before she became Marilyn Monroe, but they're accusing the LA City Council of more than just improper destruction. The council unanimously approved a condo project for the site last month, and they regularly unanimously approve development projects based on the preference of the area's city councilmember—SVV says that practice is illegal, and "flouts state laws that ban trading votes and require decisions to be made publicly," says the LA Times.
Marilyn Monroe lived with her in-laws on the Valley Village property for a year during World War II while her then-husband John Dougherty was deployed; she was living there when she was first asked to pose for a pin-up. Developer/property owner Joe Salem of Hermitage Enterprises LLC was given a demolition permit earlier this year, but locals opposed to both the demolition and the condo project filed an application for city landmark status.
Chances for landmarking never looked good, though—even the director of the Office of Historic Resources didn't feel that the house wasn't really significant enough to be saved—but generally developers are supposed to wait until the landmarking is either approved or denied to proceed with razing. This developer took the house down just days before a hearing on the matter this summer. Last month, the City Council approved a five-unit condo project for the site.
Save Valley Village's lawsuit says that the demolition was illegal ("because the proper notices and inspections had not been done" and the city either knew or should have known) and that the condos approved for the site should have required an environmental impact report (an intensive process required for developments with large impacts). Save Valley Village wants to reverse the City Council's approval for the condos, have all the permits revoked, and prevent the project from getting any more.
They also want the city to void any approvals it gave unanimously to any projects in the last year, "which [Save Valley Village] says occurs 'over 99% of the time.'"
· Lawsuit seeks to block a condo project where Marilyn Monroe once lived [LAT]
· The Valley Village House Where Marilyn Monroe Got Her Start Was Just Demolished [Curbed LA]