For decades the building known as the “Log Cabin” located at 621 N. Robertson Blvd has served as an oasis for the Los Angeles sober community with 29 meetings held each week at the site.
But the property, while technically within the jurisdiction of West Hollywood, belongs to the City of Beverly Hills. And Beverly Hills wants it gone.
The building’s complicated history is murky at best. The Historic Architecture Database lists the date of construction as 1936, although other sources have given dates ranging from 1928 to 1939.
The Log Cabin happens to sit on top of a water well that serves Beverly Hills and the western edge of West Hollywood. According to West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran, it was this well that motivated Beverly Hills to purchase the property. They later allowed the Boy Scouts of America to construct the cabin on the site and for many years it was the headquarters for their Troop 27. They stipulated, though, that the cabin be demolished upon the troop’s vacation of the property.
That didn’t happen. Instead, the Lion’s Club moved into the building and signed a lease with the same demolition clause. At some point they began allowing the space to be used for other meetings. It is now utilized for various recovery groups.
The Lion’s Club, which reportedly has a president but no other noticeable representation in Los Angeles, still has control of the building. Their lease expired in 1977 and they are presumedly in a month-to-month agreement. The original lease required just one dollar a year in rent, but apparently not once in the 42 years since the lease lapsed has that dollar been paid.
The sudden interest by Beverly Hills appears to be monetarily motivated. In recent years commercial development has exploded along Robertson Blvd. Selling the property to developers would be profitable for the city. They have also sent site inspectors to the building who have found it in poor condition.
The Lion’s Club, or what is left of it, has been asked to vacate and demolish the building by March 31, per their original lease. This information was made public this weekend and the outcry was immediate. A petition has been started to save the Log Cabin.
Numerous dissenting social media and blog posts have been shared. The backlash has led to the City of West Hollywood stepping in to coordinate a solution with Beverly Hills.
On Monday, the two cities issued a joint press release saying, in part, that they are “in discussions to determine a shared approach to the current uses at the Log Cabin property.”
What that means and how that effects the eviction notice is yet to be determined. Beverly Hills is offering alternative locations to hold meetings, but West Hollywood will be doing their own site inspections.
The contrast in the statements between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills was subtle but pointed.
West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo seemed to support saving the structure. He stated in the press release, “We are committed to continued availability of services. This space serves a significant and valuable role for the recovery community and we will examine all potential options.”
Meanwhile, Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez’s comment appeared to fall on the demolition side. “Both cities recognize the important work that has occurred at the site and the countless lives that have been changed for the better. Our concern is the safety of those within the building,” he said.
It is the sober community that will be ultimately affected.
“I’ve been a member of the sober community for over 20 years,” Duran told the Los Angeles Blade. “And that building that some might see as an eye sore is integral to helping stop the use of crystal meth, alcoholism, the spread of HIV/AIDS and so many other issues related to addiction and recovery. To suddenly shut it down takes away an essential ingredient in the city’s addressing of these issues.”
There is limited space available for such meetings, with West Hollywood’s own Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center already booked solid each week. “I don’t think Beverly Hills understands how critical the Log Cabin is,” added Duran.
Right now, those affected by the turn of events are in a holding pattern. More information will be reported as it becomes available.
Photo of Log Cabin is a stock photo, via John Duran’s Facebook page