On October 23, photos first circulated on social media showing workers on top of the awning of the historic Pig ‘n Whistle cafe at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard, covering the beautiful 1920s facade with cheap plastic signage for a Mr. Tempo Cantina and dropping the neon signs on the sidewalk.

We confirmed with a search of the LADBS website that there were no building permits to do anything to the Pig ‘n Whistle, which while not a city landmark, is a recognized and protected historic district contributor at the local, state and national level. In fact, somebody had complained about unpermitted work on October 19, but inspector Alfredo Balandra had bafflingly closed the complaint noting “no violation.”

It made our blood boil. First, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell worked behind the scenes with Netflix to help the $289 Billion company take control of the Egyptian Theatre from the community non-profit American Cinematheque, despite Netflix executive Ted Sarandos sitting on the Cinematheque’s board. Now, with the theater shuttered and nobody around to keep an eye on the scandal-plagued, also shuttered restaurant next door, a precious landmark was being wrecked in slow motion. And a building inspector just blew the complaint off? Doesn’t anybody in this paragraph give a damn about Los Angeles?

The worst of the facade photos was captured by tour guide Brian Donnelly; in August, tour guide April Brooks Clemmer captured a shocking image of the whitewashed interior, and we’re told that preservation groups informed Mitch O’Farrell’s staff and the Office of Historic Resources that the Pig ‘n Whistle was being illegally altered, but nothing was done.

We’re tour guides and preservationists, too, and we wanted to do our part. So on Monday, we reached out to our contacts at Building and Safety expressing concern about the inspector who had closed a major violation improperly and asking that the case be reopened, ideally with a new inspector assigned. Then we posted Brian’s photograph to our Twitter and other social media with the text “Are you mad Pig ‘n Whistle at 6714 Hollywood is being wrecked with no permits? Email Lambert Giessinger in OHR lambert.giessinger@lacity.org & Daniel Halden at CD 13 daniel.halden@lacity.org and ask them to file a stop work order and protect this designated historic resource!” A lot of people emailed, as word of the destruction spread (thanks, Alison Martino of Vintage Los Angeles), and by day’s end, a stop work order was posted on the building. Shortly after that, Valley Relics announced that they had “saved” and taken away the protected historic resource signage.

Meanwhile the press was calling, asking for clarification on the differences between official city landmarks and protected contributors like the Pig ‘n Whistle. Good pieces were published by L.A. Taco, Beverly Press and Eater L.A. And with constituents and Hollywood history lovers from around the world bombarding the city with outraged messages, Mitch O’Farrell took credit for getting Building and Safety over to halt the destruction. It would have been nice if something had been done when the first complaints were made to his office, in August, but we believe his office did ask for quick action in response to the public outcry.

So now what? Mr. Tempo’s workers have whitewashed the interior and slapped new signage onto the facade, all without permits. The city has the discretion to hold a property owner accountable in a situation like this, to demand that historic resources that were damaged be repaired or replaced at the owner’s expense. But City Hall rarely cracks down on developers and businesses that wreck protected buildings. Could Pig ‘n Whistle be the exception that scares the next Mr. Tempo and Mr. Tempo’s landlord from pulling a stunt like this? We hope so!

That brings us to today’s email from Lambert Giessinger, the preservation architect in the city’s Office of Historic Resources and one of the recipients of all those angry emails. Here’s his report:

“Craig Bullock and Dan Halden [from Mitch O’Farrell’s office] coordinated a meeting at the property yesterday with the business owner, building department and me. I have attached some photographs. I’ve asked the business owner to prepare a document to discuss the original restoration work they did in 1999, changes to the space over time, and the most recent work they have done so we can better assess the condition. It appears that most of the new finish work is cosmetic. The Pig ‘N Whistle cartouches on the facade have been covered with foam and were not removed. I suspect the alterations to the sign require a permit and will require OHR and Planning review. I’ve also attached the municipal code section that triggers review of work when a permit is applied for. The building department has indicated that the restaurant TI work for mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems requires permits. – Lambert”

Here is the relevant municipal code section:

And some photos from the city’s site visit on November 2.

We’re hopeful that with continued public scrutiny pressing the city to act, the damage to the Pig ‘n Whistle can be reversed, and that it will serve as an opportunity for raising public awareness not just about the laws that protect contributors to historic districts, but the existential threat currently facing all of the historic buildings in the National Register Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District if the city implements such fast-tracked anti-preservation ordinances as the Housing Element and Hollywood Community Plan Update.

People all over the world who care about Hollywood need to speak out, now and regularly, or the politicians who take such rotten care of our historic resources will sell them off cheap and ruin all that’s special about this strange and beautiful town that we love so much. We can’t sit back and let that happen, not without fighting back. We’re on the side of the Angels—are you? If you are, sign up for our newsletter (there are free or paid editions) and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we’ll keep you posted about preservation crises that you can help solve just by speaking up and spreading the word.

Update: November 21, 2021 – Hollywood Heritage complained for months about unpermitted Pig ‘n Whistle work, but the city erroneously assumed it was part of the Netflix project next door, and did nothing to stop the destruction. Heads should roll. The implication is that City Planning looks the other way when the property owner is Netflix, or when staff just assume it is. Is that because of NFLX’ special relationship with Hollywood councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who helped them buy the Egyptian?

Update: December 2, 2021 – Beverly Press reports on the status of the missing permits and future of the site, with quotes from the city’s historic preservation architect Lambert Giessinger and the Los Angeles Conservancy.