By Skyfox11 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
By Skyfox11 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

A City Council committee held off on making a decision Tuesday about the fate of Parker Center, the Los Angeles Police Department’s former headquarters, which some city officials have recommended for historic-cultural landmark status.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said efforts to preserve the eight-story tower and surrounding landscaping are taking place amid broader plans to re-envision the Civic Center area.

“I’ve been very interested in looking at a master plan for the complete area of our Civic Center, and I’ve been concerned about any decision we make now … whether that would have any impact” on those potential planning efforts, Huizar said.

He said there are ongoing conversations with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and Bureau of Engineering officials about what to do about the aging building, which was left vacant in 2009 when the department moved into the Police Administration Building, across two streets.

The city Bureau of Engineering is proposing to spend $475 million to demolish the building and replace it with a bigger office tower.

Huizar said the committee is postponing a decision on the issue until May 5 in order to weigh various options for the site.

He asked staff today whether parts of the building, such as the facade and the jails, could be preserved, if the city were to move forward with a project involving the Parker Center site.

Ken Bernstein, who manages the city’s historic resources office, said the city landmark designation can be limited to portions of the building, and it already leaves room for city officials to ultimately decide in favor of demolishing all or part of the building.

In January, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission recommended that Parker Center be given historic-cultural status in an effort to delay plans to demolish the building.

Parker Center was home to the LAPD’s administrative staff from 1955 to the fall of 2009. It was made nationally famous on the 1960s TV series Dragnet.

Cultural Heritage commissioners and conservationists say the building warrants landmark status, because of its role in the history of race relations, the modernization of the policing profession and its architectural design by Welton Becket, who also designed the Capitol Records building, Music Center and Cinerama Dome.

The historic status is also supported by the Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit historical preservation group, with its preservation coordinator, Laura Dominguez, saying the building has been on the group’s “radar as an important modern resource.”

Parker Center is associated “with the rise of modern policing … the history of urban renewal and also race relations in the city,” which “provides us with an important opportunity to understand some of these patterns and their relevance today,” Dominguez said.

The building, originally known as the Police Facilities Building, was named in 1969 after former Chief William H. Parker, who served from 1950 until his heart attack death in 1966.

Parker garnered national recognition for his efforts to make the police department more efficient and disciplined, and he was responsible for starting the Department of Internal Affairs.

Allegations of racial discrimination by police also marked Parker’s tenure, which included the 1965 Watts Riots, with officers being accused of harassment and abuse against the black community.

—City News Service

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