Cheri Woods has withdrawn her petition to have her Norton Avenue apartment building designated as culturally significant because rocker Jim Morrison of The Doors once stayed there.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) earlier had recommended the designation, and the petition was on the agenda of tonight’s West Hollywood City Council meeting for a final decision. However in a memo to the council, the city’s Community Development Department (CDD) said Woods has been “listing elements of the building on Craigslist as memorabilia, including character- defining features. Therefore, staff continues to recommend denial of the nomination based on changes to the property that have come about since the original HPC decision.”
Woods currently is the subject of a lawsuit by the City of West Hollywood, which alleges that she harassed three of the building’s tenants and illegally raised the rent of another. She evicted tenants of the building, which is at 8214-8218 Norton Ave., in April. Woods also has illegally rented out vacant apartments in the building to tourists through Airbnb.
Woods claims the building is culturally significant because it once was the home of Morrison and his girlfriend, Pamela Curson, from the summer of 1969 to March 1971. In 1971 they went to Paris, where Morrison died of what is widely believed to have been a drug overdose. He was 27.
If the building were to have been designated as historically significant, it would be eligible for certain rehabilitation incentives that would have allowed Woods to convert it to bed and breakfast.
Woods purchased the building in 2003. Previously she lived in Studio City, where she was known as the madam of Cheri’s Angels, a ring of prostitutes that she operated from her home. A 2004 story in the Los Angeles Times noted that Woods claimed to have managed 185 prostitutes serving 2,000 clients. Woods also is the author of “Death Row Madam: Exposing Sex and Drugs in the Entertainment Industry,” a book in which she claims to “finally break the madam’s code of silence, as you discover the shocking, kinky stories of the sex lives of the rich and famous.”
In 2014, Community Development staffers had recommended the designation but the next year discovered that Woods had had removed an original wooden balcony that overlooked the center courtyard and original Spanish tiles on a building staircase “These portions of the building were significant to its ability to convey the Spanish Colonial architectural style present at the time of Jim Morrison’s residence,” the CDD memo says. However the HPC in October reaffirmed its support of the designation at a meeting in October.
During that meeting, “a member of the public claimed that the property owner was selling the Spanish tiles removed from the exterior staircase on Craigslist. Following the meeting, staff was able to confirm that the owner was in fact listing elements of the building as memorabilia, including the exterior Spanish staircase tiles and the wooden balcony railing that were removed by the owner,” the CDD memo says.
“With the removal of the original balcony overlooking the courtyard and the removal of the Spanish tiles on the staircase leading up to the middle upstairs unit, the building no longer exhibits sufficient integrity because it is missing important architectural features extant when Jim Morrison lived at the property. While it is possible that balcony and tiles could be repaired or replaced, the designation of the building must be done as-is with no way for the City to compel the property owner to complete the work required to restore these character-defining features. Therefore, staff recommends denial of the designation.”