San Fernando Valley

Councilman Krekorian says don't blame him for Henry's Tacos

The weekend news that Henry's Tacos in Studio City plans to close at the end of December sort of exploded today in the local media. My post on Sunday afternoon got as much bounce on Facebook and Twitter in the first 24 hours as anything we've done previously at LA Observed. There have been TV, radio and web stories today, some predictably spawned by the angle that this or that minor Hollywood celeb likes Henry's, but some also understanding that the story has legs because a lot of regular Valley folk and others around Los Angeles adore Henry's.

Thumbnail image for henrys-tacos-close-sign.jpgOwner Janis Hood over the weekend put the onus for the closure of the landlord, who opposed the city's move to landmark the property, and on Councilman Paul Krekorian. Today, Krekorian felt moved by all the reaction to post a lengthy statement denying that his office is aware of any development plans for the site, at the northwest corner of Moorpark and Tujunga. Hey, Krekorian says, he likes Henry's too. He also says he's not the reason the Cultural Heritage Commission's designation of Henry's as a historic-cultural monument never got to the City Council.

Krekorian's statement, from his website:

Dear Friend,

Like many of my constituents, I was saddened to learn this past weekend that the owner of Henry’s Tacos in Studio City has made the decision to close the business at the end of this month. If true, it would be a loss for our community and another example of unwelcome change that results in iconic businesses closing their doors to the detriment of the character of our neighborhoods and our city.

Last year, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted to include the Henry’s Tacos building in its list of Historic-Cultural Monuments. That was a decision with which I agreed, because I strongly believe this city needs to do more to retain its links to the past and its unique flavor and character. Unfortunately, there was nothing my office nor the City could do to compel a business owner and a property owner to agree on terms of a lease, except urging them both to the table – which is exactly what my office did. I’m disappointed and saddened that the two commercial parties involved could not reach an agreement that would serve both their interests and the community’s.

In February, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (“PLUM”) Committee decided to postpone consideration of the status of Henry’s designation as a cultural monument to give the business owner and the property owner more time to work together toward renewal of their lease, which had already expired in December 2011. My office was never notified that the two parties apparently had a breakdown in negotiations, and I learned about that fact, along with the rest of the public, when the owner announced on Facebook her intention to close the business. The last time either the business owner or the property owner had any contact with my office was the date of the PLUM meeting, back in February, and neither have ever requested any assistance from my office in connection with these negotiations. In any event, it should be clearly understood that any decision about the historical status of the Henry’s Tacos site has nothing to do with whether or not Henry’s Tacos stays in business.

I have always believed it would be in the community’s best interests for the business owner and property owner to negotiate an agreement, in what is a private business matter and not a government decision, in order to allow Henry’s Tacos to continue operating. However, if those efforts fail, which it sounds like they may have, and either the private business owner or private property owner decide not to renew their lease, there is simply nothing the City can do to compel them to continue operations.

The challenge that Henry’s apparently has faced for nearly a year is due to a private business relationship. While I have always been supportive of a historical designation for the building, the passionate effort by many in our community to save Henry’s continues to be best directed to the business owner and the property owner, for it is they alone who will decide whether Henry’s will continue in business and remain a valued community institution.

I also feel that I must make clear that suggestions by some that I have “other plans” for the property are simply false. As of today, to my knowledge, the property owner has not applied for any change of use for the property, or proposed any development plans, or sought any change in entitlements, or otherwise taken any action at all that indicates that the Henry’s Tacos building is facing destruction or even modification. If the property owner has any intention to change Henry’s whatsoever, he has not shared them with my office. If the choice were up to me, my preference would be to keep a vibrant and successful Henry’s in operation, as is.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond.

Very truly yours,
Paul Krekorian

Well, it would be pretty unusual for the local councilman's desire to not carry a lot of weight on an HCM designation. Has he been pushing his colleagues to confer landmark status?

Hood says tonight on Facebook that the landlord is coming to the taco stand to inspect the premises on Tuesday. "Stay tuned," she posts. Hood also announced today the hours would change for the rest of December: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and open on Sundays from noon to 5.

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