Preservationists want traffic signal moved from front of Silver Lake landmark

A traffic signal was installed directly in front of the Neutra house in 2011 | Christine Kantner

A traffic signal was installed directly in front of the Neutra house in 2011 | Christine Kantner


SILVER LAKE – Architectural preservationists are reviving a campaign to relocate a traffic signal that was installed four years ago smack dab in front of the historic Neutra VDL Research House on Silver Lake Boulevard.

The signal and mid-block crosswalk was installed in April 2011 to provide a safer passage for pedestrians crossing the busy boulevard to reach the Silver Lake Meadow. But the new signal, located between Earl Street and Armstrong Avenue, was criticized by Neutra’s son, Dion Neutra, and others who said the metal pole marred the view of one of Neutra’ Modernist masterpieces. Efforts to relocate the signal went nowhere but now there’s a new campaign to move the pole.

Christine Kantner, a fan of Neutra’s and an architectural advocate, said the pole was installed in front of Neutra’s two-story glass house without any consultation. She said the light and nearby crosswalk should have been at the meadow entrance at Earl Street and Silver Lake Boulevard. But several residents did not want the pedestrian traffic on their street, she said, so the pole was installed in front of the Neutra building, which served as his residence and is now operated by Cal Poly Pomona as a research center.

“Architects, students and history buffs from all over the world come to visit, regard and photograph the VDL house,” she said. “Currently this pole is blighting the house and is in violation of the public interest in culture and the preservation of significant works of art here.”

A motion asking the city to move the pole 10 feet and trim some street trees appeared before the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s transportation and public works committee earlier this month. However, the motion did not win sufficient votes, and it was referred to the council’s Urban Design & Preservation Committee.

The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission is also scheduled to take up the matter next month, Kantner said.


  1. they should have addressed this before the signal went in. Why should the city pay additional money in the name of a single private residence?

    • Hey busta,
      The Neutra house is owned by Cal Poly Pomona … so it’s not a private land owner. It’s a public institution. Owned by the state of California, i.e. taxpayers.

      • Which you wouldn’t know by Dion Neutra’s proprietary behavior over the last few years. His campaign against the construction of the meadow and sense of entitlement has done a great deal of damage to this request to move the traffic light. There were many very good reasons to site the crosswalk at this location, and these preservationists can’t pretend that the process wasn’t open. They and Dion Neutra were VERY vocal when the plans were announced, and everyone knew how they felt and why. One of the biggest ironies is that so many more people now notice the house and have learned about it because the crosswalk forces them to stop and look, whether in a car or foot. I get that they want a pristine front, but they’d better learn to play nicer if they want people to listen to them and not consider them to be entitled pointy head intellectuals (yes, I’m of that ilk, I admit it).

  2. How can a group of NIMBYs block the logical installation of a crosswalk at Earl St just because they’d “rather not see people”? That’s the question! Our council members are a very weak lot when it comes to loudmouthed NIMBYs.

    • no argument there. but i’m not sure failure on that point justifies more money spent in favor of appeasing one private land owner.

  3. The modernists always said form follows function….

  4. Those Neutras must be joking. Cross the street at the light and look, if you want.

  5. “Preservationists”

  6. How about we worry about adding traffic signals where they’re needed before we start moving ones we just installed 10 feet down the sidewalk?

    that sketchy crosswalk down by the basketball courts would be a better use of tax dollars, IMHO.

    • Yes! The corner of Silver Lake Blvd. and Van Pelt is just primed for a major accident. People crossing the street have had to run for their lives due to cars speeding down the hill at that corner. I’ve seen several accidents at that intersection, as well. And during morning and evening rush hours, cars driving on Silver Lake block the intersection and make any attempt to turn from Van Pelt onto Silver Lake a test of wills. Now THERE is where we could use a light or stop sign.

  7. The title of this article would more appropriately read “Dion Neutra Wants Traffic Signal Removed…”

  8. Correction: the decision to avoid locating the signal at Earl Street was never about residents not wanting foot traffic on their street. If the light had gone in there, Earl would have instantly become a cut-through for hundreds of commuters a day (think Duane Street). Contrary to a statement in this article, a tremendous amount of thought was given to the safest placement of the light and the crosswalk.
    BTW, if you walk just a few paces north of the crosswalk you can take a beautiful, unobstructed photograph of the Design House (I know because I did it). If you walk less than a minute south, there are a number of equally important and camera-ready Neutra houses. Historic architecture and public safety are coexisting very well.

    • I definitely get that concern, but I think a better safety solution for everyone would’ve been to put in signals on Earl (at Silver Lake and at Glendale) and then install speed bumps and other traffic calming features along Earl to discourage speeding on a narrow residential street, while restoring the street grid to help reduce bottlenecks. We all pay for the streets, we should be able to use alternate routes if it’s more convenient. We just need to make sure that safety is addressed to ensure cars aren’t flying through residential neighborhoods at high speeds.

      Armstrong (at the other end of the meadow) is another intersection in need of a traffic signal… lots of accidents there that could be easily avoided if the DOT cared more about public safety.

  9. In Defense of Nature

    That box is in the way of the nature that was there before it. Can we please move that box so we can see what took billions of years to make?

  10. Just a little refresher on what really happened and why the light pole is where it is. A certain staff member of Councilman Eric Garrett’s office called all the shots on that Pole and its placement. The Reservoir Conservancy were working on other pressing issue and never had any opinion on it. The crosswalk was a rather after the fact issue that was just planted where the Dept. of Transportation could put it and still be home at 4:00pm. Also L.A. Traffic Dept. studies reported that Earl Street was not wide enough for the two way traffic on that street.

  11. Hello, Fallopia S. might be time to cut those tubes of your loose.
    Not to over step your authority on all things regarding neighbors /NIMBYs but your statement “rather not see people” should read “not major traffic on streets that are unsustainable as a major thoroughfare”.

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