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Supervisor Gloria Molina promises to help save East LA's giant tamale building

The Tamale, when they sold tamales there, in an undated photo from the LA Public Library.
The Tamale, when they sold tamales there, in an undated photo from the LA Public Library.
LAPL/Security Pacific National Bank Collection
The Tamale, when they sold tamales there, in an undated photo from the LA Public Library.
This building in unincorporated East LA used to be a tamale shop. It's one of the last examples of "programmatic architecture" and was recently put on the market, alarming historic preservationists because it's unprotected by historic preservation laws.
John Rabe

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As Off-Ramp reported last week, historic preservationists are worried about the fate of the giant tamale building in East L.A., one of the last survivors of an era of "programmatic architecture," which included The Brown Derby, the Tail o' the Pup and other buildings made to look like a motorist-enticing thing.

This morning, I got this email from Richard Schave of esotouric.com:

Please see below.  Very good news.  More soon.

He said that as he'd hoped, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina is getting involved in the fight, and is sending this email in response to inquiries about the giant tamale:

Thank you for sharing your views regarding the “tamal*” building located at 6421 Whittier Boulevard.  I, too, fondly remember it and other iconic structures that lined Whittier Boulevard, and I agree that the structure is worthy of historic designation.  

I am pleased to share with you that in the near future, I intend to establish a Los Angeles County ordinance to provide certain benefits for buildings designated as historic; please know that the property owner's consent will be required.  My staff is engaging the building's owner to determine if there is interest, and if needed we will work with future property owners.  If enacted, this ordinance will preserve this noteworthy edifice for future generations to enjoy, and the property owner will receive tax credits to be utilized for the structure's maintenance. 

For more information, she's asking constituents to call Phillip Estes with the County Department of Regional Planning at (213) 974-6425 and asking people to write to the building owners — Sky Realty Investments — at 5191 Fox Hills Avenue, Buena Park 90621.  

To write to Molina, you can use this address Molina@bos.lacounty.gov.

Meantime, Schave is delighted:

"I am delighted with Supervisor Molina's response to the problem, not just of preserving the Tamale, but of establishing a formal preservation policy for the unincorporated portions of Los Angeles County. I believe that the best hope for historic preservation is that it become a part of public policy, which is what our call to help save the Tamale brings into focus. And what a perfectly Southern California building to have triggered this wonderful announcement!"

*Yes, properly, it's tamal ... to everyone who also says "lohs AHN-hell-ess."