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Ugly Persian Houses
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March 07, 2012, 02:51 AM
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If you are a Los Angeles city councilman these days, one issue that you dread dealing with is the controversy over zoning changes to limit the size of new houses. On one hand, many of the single family homes in Los Angeles were built in in roughly 1935-1975 and are small by contemporary standards. So, a lot of homeowners like the idea that somebody rich could someday buy their little house and put up a big house in its place. Laissez-faire would seem to maximize their property values. 

On the other hand, have you got a gander at the houses that the rich people are putting up? They are not intended to fit seamlessly into the neighborhood with polite good taste. The website Ugly Persian Houses (Ruining the Neighborhood One House at a Time) tracks the proliferation of Persian Palaces in Southern California, with their obsession with giant columns that don`t even pretend to do anything structurally. It`s run by some natives of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Santa Monica:

It`s because we live and work in these areas that the site was born in the first place.  Los Angeles no longer looks like Los Angeles..and pointing this out seemed like a good idea for a website because we thought (and clearly this turned out to be true) that there were others like us who would welcome a forum to bemoan the death of the beautiful architecture that was indigenous to California. 
4.  “You’re Just Jealous…You Wish You Could Live in One of these Houses.” 
Hardly.  But what we do wish is that we had enough money to start buying them up, knocking them back to the ground, and rebuilding the charming bungalow or spanish casita, or whatever that was originally in its place.
Well, I`m not sure that L.A. architecture was all that tasteful even before the Iranians started to roll in during the early 1970s. And Iran has an ancient culture with a strong emphasis on luxury and ornament. Still, here`s an Ugly Persian Condo in Brentwood:

So, there is a lot of activism right now in areas near the Hollywood Hills to put limits on the size of teardowns. The arguments are framed in terms of aesthetics and neighborhood preservation, but much of the energy comes from unspoken ethnic conflict. 

My guess is that the most outspoken of the preservationists tend to be Ashkenazi Jews who grew up in SoCal, while the newcomers building the gaudiest new houses tend to be Oriental Jews, but I don`t have any data on that.

Also, in the San Fernando Valley, there is a growing conflict over a zoning variance between the growing numbers of Ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi black hatters along Chandler Blvd. and the declining numbers of old-fashioned Ashkenazis.