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Chez Jay Designated a Landmark

Nautical-themed restaurant treasured by celebrities and locals alike was poised for a major redo to better match the vibe of the future Palisades Garden Walk.

With a 6-0 vote Monday night, the Landmarks Commission gave Santa Monica's storied dive bar, Chez Jay, a better shot at never having to change.

The nautical-themed restaurant on Ocean Avenue is now qualified as local landmark, the commission determined, joining a list of prominent local buildings and places that includes Palisades Park and the Santa Monica Pier.

In casting their votes, the commissioners recognized there are few places like Chez Jay left in Santa Monica, or even Los Angeles.

Its floors are dusted with peanut shells and its tables are draped in red and white checkered table cloths. Tales of its past are equally unique. As a commander of Apollo 14, astronaut Alan Sheppard reportedly sneaked aboard a Chez Jay peanut, which he hid in a 35 mm film canister and brought with him to the moon. And, it's rumored that at Table 10, Daniel Ellsberg passed the "Pentagon Papers" to a New York Time's reporter in 1971.

A full report on Chez Jay's history is attached to the right of this article.

In its 50 years, not much has changed. It's still a shabby but popular hangout for an eclectic mix of movie stars, politicians, beachcombers and locals.

When residents learned the city’s 2005 Civic Center Specific Plan called for it to be transformed into an airy, outdoor dining space compatible with the future Palisades Garden Walk, they protested.

The newly-bestowed designation could slow or prevent forced-renovations or demolition, which now require Landmark Commission approval.The use of the building, however, is not protected, and there's still a question about who the property belongs to.

The restaurant sits on land owned by the now defunct Redevelopment Agency, so Santa Monica could lose control of the parcel and its ability to keep the restaurant there. "The state could force the property to be...  sold on the open market, with the proceeds going to taxing entities," Andy Agle, the city's director of Housing and Economic Development, has told the Santa Monica Daily Press.

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Jane St. Clair October 10, 2012 at 07:16 AM
Great place. So nice that it's got a minute to breathe while the world just flies into its next new look.
I Need Java October 10, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Good news for now ! We must stay vigilant in our efforts to protect city landmarks.
mimi October 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
CZ is an institution that people love simply because it is a dive, has always been a dive, was never meant to be anything but a dive. It is a sentimental favorite, not a landmark. The U.S Post Office on 5th St. is a landmark, historical and beautiful. And it is toast.
mimi October 10, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Ooops. I meant CJ, not CZ. Sorry about that.
Brenda Barnes October 10, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Awesome. Viva Chez Jay. Congratulations, Landmark Commission. Good going for all of us.
Christina Cox October 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You're absolutely right! Please check out www.facebook.com/savechezjay to stay informed.
j pena October 11, 2012 at 03:53 PM
So we get to keep Chez Jay but we lost the MAIN POST OFFICE OF SANTA MONICA in the HEART OF THE CITY. Someone is NOT looking out for residents.
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 05:18 PM
It is REALLY sad that the US Post Office has decided to sell the building but the situations were completely different. They're actually both complex situations so you might need to read a little more to see why it was a lot easier to save Chez Jay than it was to save the post office. Just look through the SM Patch archives for old info. Well, not really old, just a few months old. That said, it is really, really sad to see them sell the building. Is it too late to do something about it?
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Experience has shown us that we can't expect anyone but the residents to look out for the residents! I didn't see anyone start a movement to save the post office. Did you? Also, is it too late to do something about it? Writing opinions in the comments section of Patch articles alone is not enough to make changes.
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Also, I disagree that people love Chez Jay "simply because it is a dive." There is a TON of history that has taken place there and we all know, the City of Santa Monica is only too quick to bulldoze history in the name of sparkly new buildings that will be outdated within a decade.
j pena October 11, 2012 at 06:07 PM
How about you? What did you do to inform yourself about an issue that's been discussed here for the past two months? That's a big and nasty assumption you just made about a person you don't know.
mimi October 11, 2012 at 08:44 PM
My personal preference is to preserve both. I don't see this as an either/or contest. It seems clear to some readers that CJ had a better publicity campaign than did the post office. Christina-- what's with your rant? You got what you wanted. Your anger is odd, given the success of the campaign. .Feel free to continue your rant to your heart's content. I'm finished with this topic and you. If I'm not mistaken, your last rant was over the lack of parking spaces in/around Main Street when the food trucks are present. You were campaigning to shut them down. You have a heart of gold.
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Oh - I really didn't mean that personally. I just meant that we need to try to organize instead of hoping the City will be looking out for our best interested. Also, I DID read about it and if you look back on one of the last few articles you'll see my comments. Anyway - I think you & I are on the same side!
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I never wrote a thing about lack of parking around food trucks (or lack of parking anywhere, for that matter). I rarely drive. Also, I wasn't angry when I wrote that. I agree that it wasn't an an/or - I'd much rather have preserved both of them.
Christina Cox October 11, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Also - you mention CJ's publicity campaign - that was me! Or at least the FB page part was me. I didn't even hear about the post office till August and I wasn't able to start a new campaign (for the post office) until I finished the first one. But anyway, I am heartsick over the post office too.
George October 11, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I must defend my girl Christina here. Sometimes things come across wrong in the anonymity of the internet, so please don't judge someone based on one little comment and take things so personal. Trust me, I've heard her rant, and that was no rant. And she DOES have a heart of gold. I personally think it's terrible they're closing the post office. Very different situations obviously. Santa Monica would be a better city if they could both stay exactly the same.
mimi October 12, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Peace to one and all. Happy to know we are in agreement and that all misunderstandings were unintentional.. Any chance we can agree to put this conversation to rest, once and for all? Thanks.

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