City Council denies landmark status for Bob Hope’s house

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The Los Angeles City Council voted today not to name Bob and Dolores Hope’s longtime residence a Historic-Cultural monument at the request of the couple’s daughter, who argued the designation would hurt the home’s resale value.

Landmark status would make the Toluca Lake home eligible for Mills Act tax breaks, but it would also require future owners to seek approval from the Cultural Heritage Commission before making alterations to the residence. Linda Hope said her parents wanted the home to be sold after their deaths, with the proceeds going toward their charitable foundation.

She asked the council “not to designate my parents’ home in a way that they never wanted, and in a way that hurt[s] their foundation.”

Only two members of the council voted against the landmark designation—Paul Krekorian and Council President Herb Wesson. The nomination required 10 votes to pass. It received eight.

The landmarking process was initiated through unusual circumstances, when Councilmember David Ryu asked Office of Historic Resources staff to prepare an application for landmark status in September, after rumors surfaced that Linda Hope was planning to demolish the home. It later turned out that potential buyers of the property simply wanted to raze a few smaller structures on the property—not the 15,000-square-foot main residence.

The home has been on the market since 2013, and its listing agent told the Hollywood Reporterthat the city’s initiation of the landmarking process “botched” the sale.

Cultural Heritage Commissioners had recommended against landmarking, citing the home’s questionable architectural integrity. Earlier this month, commission president Richard Barron explained to the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee that, while the home was designed by noted architect Robert Finkelhor, numerous additions over the years had overshadowed its original concept.

Barron blamed Dolores, whom he called a “wannabe architect.” Linda Hope went further, dismissing the house itself as “a hodgepodge of renovations.”

In a statement, Ryu said that “by every objective measure, the Hope estate meets and exceeds the City’s criteria for historic designation … [w]hile I am disappointed in today’s Council vote, I am determined to continue our work in preserving our City’s historic-cultural resources for future generations to enjoy.”

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