City Moves To Save Bob Hope's Home From Possible Demolition
City council passed on Friday an emergency motion to apply Bob Hope's Toluca Lake house for review as a historic-cultural monument.
This move happened after the Department of City Planning alerted to the council that Linda Hope —Bob Hope's daughter and current owner of the estate on 10346 Moorpark Street in Toluca Lake—had obtained a permit that allowed for a demolition inspection.
While it's unclear if Linda Hope does, indeed, intend to demolish the structure, the permit paved way for the process. Once an inspection had been completed, Hope would have been given the green-light to obtain a demolition permit, at which point the city has no power to prevent the destruction of the home.
As such, Councilmember David Ryu introduced the emergency motion on Friday to beat the clock. As noted by Estevan Montemayor, director of communications at Ryu's office, the house can't be touched while it's under review by the Cultural Heritage Commission. "Once the process has been initiated on the council's side, the property owners can't move forward with demolition," said Montemayor.
The decision, then, rests with the Cultural Heritage Commission, a five-member panel that oversees the designation of cultural monuments. According to the commission’s website, something may deemed historically and culturally significant if it is, among other things, "identified with historic personages," or "[embodies] the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural-type specimen."
Just this Thursday the Cultural Heritage Commission voted to designate Walt Disney's former home in Los Feliz as a city landmark. The vote came about a couple months after the Department of City Planning had applied the house for review as a historic-cultural monument. Montemayor says that, based on this, Ryu's office hopes that the Moorpark Street residence will be reviewed in a month. Ken Bernstein, manager of the Office of Historic Resources (which oversees the commission), wrote to LAist to say that the "Historic-Cultural Monument designation process is no different for homes associated with celebrities [versus] other types of historic resources."
The place is massive, to put it lightly. The property has a nearly 15,000-square-foot house (designed in the English traditional-style), a one-hole golf course, and an indoor pool. In total, the estate is over five acres. It was said that Hope had hosted soirees that saw the likes of Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. Once, Richard Nixon's helicopter landed on the back lawn.
In 2013, Linda Hope told the Times that maintaining the home had been a job in of itself. "Putting the Moorpark house on the market, in a way it's a light at the end of the tunnel," Hope said. "It's been an occupation for two years at least."