The “tamale building” has been a mainstay in its East Los Angeles neighborhood since its creation in the 1920s, despite ceasing to operate 30 years ago as an eatery — that once served, of course, tamales. Lauded by some for its quirkiness and heralded as a symbol of Hollywood’s past, the building (which now houses a beauty salon and a dentist) also has opponents who consider it more an eyesore and a detriment to the land’s economic value.
Now, amid ongoing battles that put real estate values in one corner and community history in another, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is expected to pass new preservation guidelines that could enable individuals to nominate certain properties as landmarks in unincorporated areas of the county, such as where the tamale building is located in East L.A.
“The tamale building in East Los Angeles is an example of a type of architecture that created very unique structures in different places of the county to help promote businesses,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis told Fox News. “We need a mechanism that will allow for the historic preservation of such sites so that the community can have a say on whether they should be preserved.”
The new ordinance would mean a much more open nomination process before beloved structures face the usual political approvals. There is some trepidation that a more egalitarian nomination process would mean a flood to a system already knee-deep in requests. If the ordinance passes, however, “the tamale” will be at the top of many conservationists’ lists.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.