WeHo Lions Club President Says Eviction Notice From Beverly Hills Was a Surprise

West Hollywood Lions Club building, 621 N. Robertson Blvd.

The president of the Lions Club of West Hollywood says the club was caught off guard by a notice from the City of Beverly Hills that it had to move by the end of March out of the log cabin at 621 N. Robertson Blvd. that had been its home for decades.

In an interview today,Gyula Kangiszer told WEHOville that the Lions Club had done an assessment of the building three years ago and decided that improvements were needed, including making it more handicap accessible. Kangiszer said the club put the work on hold after the City of Beverly Hills said it was in negotiations with someone to sell the property.

In a letter dated Jan. 20, Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez told Kangiszer that the club had to vacate the property by March 31. Chavez noted that the Lions Club’s original lease, dated Nov. 3, 1976, had expired on July 1, 1977, and that a recent audit of the city’s land holdings revealed that the Lions Club has not paid rent on the property in the 42 years since then. Chavez said a contractor had inspected the property and “found portions of the building in poor condition.”

Kangiszer shared with WEHOville a letter that the Lions Club sent today in response to the letter from Chavez.

“We are heartbroken that you are requesting the demolition of the West Hollywood Log Cabin that has been serving the community since 1936,” Kangiszer wrote. “As a magical place in the busy city, the Log Cabin has saved over 100,000 lives helping people overcome addictions.

“You reference that the Lease expired on July 1, 1977. We are unsure what triggered the City of Beverly Hills to terminate the Tenancy now, 43 years later. Over the years, the Lions Club of West Hollywood has continuously requested your approval to agree on a long-term lease. The representatives of the Lions Club have been asking for years whom the lease should be paid to, and the representatives of the City of Beverly Hills stated that due to administrative ambiguity the Lions Club needed to wait with the payments.

“The Lions Club is committed to preserving the Log Cabin. We had collected quotations to beautify the building and its surroundings while maintaining its Historic Site characteristics. These improvements would have been done in 2018, but the City of Beverly Hills requested us to wait as it was still clarifying the land ownership situation with the City of West Hollywood. We were under the impression that these discussions are still ongoing. While we were waiting for the green light to start the external improvements, we had security and external video monitoring systems installed.

“In the interest of the community, we ask that you retract your termination request and work with us to agree on the details of a long-term lease.”

Kangiszer said the rent was only $1 per year and that the Lions Club had been confused as to whom it owed the rent because the property had been owned by the Beverly Hills Water Authority. The lot on which it sits actually is within the boundaries of the City of West Hollywood, which has been in discussions with Beverly Hills about acquiring the property. The log cabin was built in the late 1920s or 1930s (different accounts state different years) and originally housed a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America.

Kangiszer was elected president of the West Hollywood Lions Club four months ago, succeeding longtime president Gayle Ann Stewart. He said the West Hollywood club had roughly 30 members and met at the log cabin about once a quarter. He said the Lions Club has kept the building because its members saw it as a valuable resource for about two dozen addiction recovery groups that met there. There are multiple Alcoholics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous and other recovery groups in the area, some of which meet at the Lions Club building and some at the Werle Building, which is owned by the City of West Hollywood and is on the opposite side of Robertson Boulevard. Kangiszer said those attending the recovery meetings make small payments at each meeting, with about $1 going to the Lions Club for each person attending a meeting in the log cabin.

The City of Beverly Hills and the City of West Hollywood have responded to the public outcry about plans to demolish the Lions Club log cabin on Robertson Boulevard with a statement on Monday saying they are discussing developing a “shared approach” to providing options for the Lions Club and addiction recovery groups that have used the cabin as a meeting place.

The statement said that the City of Beverly Hills has offered to provide alternative meeting locations for the Lions Club and other organizations that use the log cabin and “the City of West Hollywood is exploring options that support the ongoing use and the availability of community and recovery meetings.”

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Vigilant
Vigilant
5 months ago

ABC News report this morning starring John Duran, always craning for visibility, spoke about the importance the Log Cabin has had in the recovery community but failed to mention it’s potential historic landmark importance according to a legitimate Historic Preservation Survey which commented on its integrity and condition. Not only is John Duran oblivious to this, he also appears oblivious to the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Ordinance, related practices in place and how it is designed to function. Too busy talking, too little time listening.

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
5 months ago

OMG – THIS NEWS ACTUALLY GOT OUT OF THE WEHO BLACK HOLE OF CITY NEWS, AND WAS ALL OVER LOCAL NEWS CHANNELS.

THE MAYOR (or some one in the office) OF BH HAD A SIDEWALK NEWS ‘CONFERENCE’ AT THE B. H. CIVIC CENTER.

The Curious Hippie
The Curious Hippie
5 months ago

Some one, or groups of people who have should have had Administrative Duties failed to keep communication going with all of the Aforementioned parties involved in this situation. It would seem if this Log Cabin is considered an Historical Building, it should in fact be Preserved as a Historical Momument. Does the Lions Club, have written documentation that verifies payments were to be withheld? If so, this should be taken into consideration before an eviction notice is UpHeld. If not, only those who had this duty, should be asked to explain why no records were kept. Forty (40) years ago,… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
5 months ago

Why on earth would anyone want to see the quirkiness of that log cabin in Weho be gone? I do know it was (no idea if still) “THE GAY AA” to go to. Like the shallow way people decide where to go out based on popularity & reputation for hottest & cutest guys go. I heard that and kinda wondered if seeking real group assistance with Alcoholism was beneficial in an AA meeting described like the ultimate place to cruise. In any event, I can’t see or imagine anybody would want to get rid of the Cabin. It’s not like… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
5 months ago

John Duran has proclaimed himself to be the recovery champ on the council attending meetings here for 20 years but was too busy with trials and radio shows instead of really caring and anticipating what was happening to this space.

Eric Jon Schmidt
5 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Why does almost every story on WEHOville article attract John Duran Bashing? This article has nothing to do with JD. The City Council should ask the LA Superior Court for an injunction to stop the demolition until more information and public opinions are considered. I could present a case for the injunction to the Court so why aren’t the Lawyers who are licensed to practice law in CA on City Council and in the Community doing so? If BH is allowed to demolish the building, WH planning commissions and City Council can and should limit what BH does with the… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
5 months ago

This comment contains many conflicting and uninformed statements. First, John Duran has championed himself as the vanguard for the substance abuse recovery community while at the same time advocating for an increase in establishments that fuel the problem. Secondly, it would seem that organizations like the Lion’s Club who pride themselves on community service endeavors should understand the basic responsibility of understanding the lease arrangements of their location and paying rent. Recovery groups that follow a 12 step process should understand the concept and practice of responsibility. neither organization apparently followed through. The historic value of The Log Cabin has… Read more »

MBF
MBF
5 months ago

I’m sorry, you haven’t paid rent in 42 years and you’re surprised when you get an eviction notice one day?? What planet does this guy live on?? You’ve been on borrowed time for 42 years!!

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