Dogtown Era Over? Duh!

Dogtown in Dogtown Papers

Ah the good old days. Remember that time when Heath Ledger threw all those surf boards at a young Tony Alva? It makes me want to move into a condo. Fortunately, the landlord of the locally famous building that housed the Zephyr Surf shop wants to see it developed into a mixed use facility; Strip malls and condos for everyone! Predictably, Jay Adams (ne De Mornay) mother Rebecca is leading a pack of whiny hippies that say the building is the heart and sole of Santa Monica. Yeah, and so is Huey Lewis when it comes to rock and roll.

This guy is bummed.
Dogtown in Dogtown Papers

Dogtown in Dogtown Papers

Dogtown in Dogtown Papers

From the October 11 issue of the Santa Monica Daily Press: Has Dogtown it’s Day?

By Melody Hanatani

Renowned surf and skate shop is on the chopping block
By Melody Hanatani
Daily Press Staff Writer

MAIN STREET – In 1975, a group of unknown street kids from Dogtown revolutionized the world of skateboarding. More than 30 years later, their shrine still stands, but may not much longer.

Known as the “Z-Boys,” the young skaters introduced an aggressive and unique style of boarding during the 1975 Bahne-Cadillac National Skateboard Championship, rocking a following accustomed to the routines of handstanding on skateboards.

The Z-Boys skate team was created by the owners of a small surf and skate shop at the corner of Main and Bay streets, where many pinpoint as the birthplace of modern skateboarding. Three decades later, a death knell may be ringing.

The Zephyr Shop is now gone and the building that housed it may soon follow suit. Those who have followed the skateboarding and surfing world say they are shocked that the owner of 2001-2011 Main St., is planning to demolish what they feel is a significant part of Santa Monica’s cultural history in order to build a mixed-use development.

“That shop is definitely a landmark,” said Santa Monica resident Bart Saric, who did artwork inside the Zephyr Shop. “Ask anyone who’s been a local for more than 15 to 20 years and I’m sure they’ll be shocked and concerned in the same note.”

The shop and its history have inspired several films, including the documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and feature film “The Lords of Dogtown.” “Dogtown and Z-Boys” was written by original Z-Boy, Stacy Peralta.

The building today houses three tenants – Horizons West Surf Shop, and artist studios for Annie Sabroux and John Baldessari. Renowned dog photographer William Wegman is said to have once occupied the space housing Baldessari’s studio.

“On the one hand, I understand gentrification,” Baldessari said. “On the other hand, there is wisdom … that artists are the best real estate developers.”

Baldessari moved to the area during a time when he said Main Street was “a slump of all artists’ studios.”

He added that there is an exotic image associated with artist studios that attracts outsiders, and eventually, draws in restaurants that will surely raise property values.


The owner, 2001 Main Street LLC, is planning to build a mixed-use building with 14 residential units, underground parking and retail space. The plan includes the demolition of an adjacent residential building at 212 Bay St.

Juli Doar, vice president of 2001 Main Street LLC, said the building would be the first privately-owned LEED certified mixed-use complex in Santa Monica.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a certification that the United States Green Building Council uses to designate developments that include “green” or environmentally friendly elements.

Doar said the development would include more green space, no air-conditioning, natural light and low water-use toilets for its residential units.

“What we’re attempting to do is to create a carbon neutral building so we have no impact on greenhouse gases,” Doar said. “That is my aim.”

The owner decided to tear down the building because of high maintenance costs for an old building that is in poor, and possibly dangerous, shape, Doar said.

If the building is demolished and replaced as planned, Doar said the owner would like to have Horizons West Surf Shop return. Shop owner Randy Wright said on Tuesday that he’d like to return to the space. If the city approves the development plans, Wright said the business will most likely go on hiatus while he “goes surfing.”

Wright has owned Horizons West Surf Shop since 1987, when he took over the business for original “Z-Boy” Nathan Pratt, who opened the shop in 1977 after Zephyr and Jeff Ho Productions closed its doors.

Today, the original Zephyr shop, which is adjacent to Horizons’ main store, is a commercial shrine dedicated to only selling Zephyr items, including T-shirts, skateboards and surfboards. An entire wall is filled with photos from that fateful day in 1975 when the Z-Boys shocked the skateboarding world.

“If it was an ideal world, I would like to see it stay the same because there is a lot of history in the building,” Wright said. “It is kind of a local landmark in the fact that there is a lot of legendary surfer/skater guys in the Dogtown community.

“I understand that my landlord owns the property and they wanted to do something like this 25 years ago, before I started working here,” Wright said.

Steve Lovold, who has lived in the area for about 20 years and has frequented the store for almost 27 years, said the new development would hurt the city and the owner economically in the long-term because the loyal customers over the years could disappear.

“I talked to a couple of the guys who were on the Zephyr team and a lot are tired of overdevelopment,” Lovold said. “As far as I’m concerned, it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. We would either go somewhere else or down to Venice.”

The Landmarks Commission discussed the demolition permit during Monday night’s meeting and decided to postpone a vote until more information is uncovered about the history of the property.

Commissioner Deborah Levin said she was shocked when she found out about the building plans and feels it would “demolish the spirit of Santa Monica.”

Several residents spoke in favor of preservation during the meeting, including neighbor Troy Hyatt, who said he got the issue agendized for the meeting.

“I’ve received calls and e-mails from a lot of people who are concerned about this,” Hyatt said. “They want to see it preserved based on its historical significance.”

A building can be designated as a landmark as long as it meets at least one of six criteria – cultural significance, architectural significance, artistic significance, historic personages, sense of location and significant architect, said Commission Chairman Nina Fresco.

“I live in Ocean Park and I always had a feeling of pride that the skateboard movement started here,” Fresco said. “I’m aware of it and I’m waiting to see what level of research we can get.”


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  3. I grew up in dogtown. The spirit I grew up with is gone in my old neighborhood. Too many yuppies, I never thought Rose Ave would be a gentrified, or that there would no long be a group of rebellious youth tearing down the street on their boards. In the midst of all the tourists and new “residents” the shop is one of the last symbols of my childhood. By the way, I know when a writer were never in Dogtown, the description of it is as a “slum”. It was never a “slum” It was a multi-cultural area where your character was defined by they way you skated, surfed, or how true you were to yourself, not how much money you had. It was a great place and a great time, and I am so happy I grew in Dogtown!

  4. Darren Smith on September 3, 2011 - Reply

    Dogtown forever!!!

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