Canadian Coffee Break: Santa Monica’s Shotgun Shack

’cofadian’The Canadian Coffee Break brings together some of the finest Canadian minds in Southern California every week for a topical, lively round-tablesque discussion over very dark coffee. Won’t you join us.

In this week’s installment, Santa Monica’s “Historic Shotgun Shack” finally wins approval to be preserved – and moved – adjacent to the Ocean Park branch of the Santa Monica Library, as reported by the Argonaut. From the paper:

Santa Monica’s last remaining intact shotgun house has been through a lot since it was built in the late 1890s at 2712 Second St. < snip >

At the council meeting, all but one of the several who spoke supported the relocation of the house to Norman Place and Second Street, a parking lot across from the Ocean Park Branch Library, which some call an “eyesore.” < snip >

“The parking lot is really trashy. It’s not well kept; it’s not well lit. It’s got trash bins on it. For years, the library and retail stores have been complaining about this lot. And here’s an opportunity to clean it up.”

How do the California Canadians feel about this turn of events? Keep reading…

When I first go the assignment, I read the works ’shotgun’ thought, ’ok, an USAn (pronounced oo.san) wants to hear again from us canajuns on the topic of gun violence… here we go again with the bowling for columbine cliche about canada-the-safe, where no one locks their door and guns are strictly regulated by the state. Then i read the link.

Actually, architectural preservation is a hobby of mine, as is L.A. history. L.A. is of course famous for erasing or simply ignoring it’s history, despite, ironically enough, having one of the most intact historical core’s of any city in the states, due largely to the growth of exurbs like santa monica (if, by the way, you ever get a chance to go on the la conservancy’s walking tour of the broadway theaters, do so). In the days when downtown was flourishing, though, santa monica was still a relative outpost. In those days, if you wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown life, you may have found yourself moving to Sanata Monica to live in a shotgun shack, and you would have found yourself in another part of the world, that is until everyone started to have their own large automobile, and then they all wanted to move to Santa Monica. And one day you might have woken up and asked yourself, well… how did all these people get here?

The article throws around dollar figures for preserving the shotgun house that seem inappropriate to the average Joe Cosco. if annoys me when journalists do this. What do i or most other lay person know about the costs involved with historical preservation. I hardly ever read articles about how the military are spending a gzillion dollars on making the latest killing machine. In canada we always here this kinda stuff in the news though, about how the government has just spend some amount on some used helicopters (’Chinooks’ i think they were called), and suddenly everyone was up in arms. That news story went on for ages, and somebody could check this, but the figure the government spent on those helicopters would probably be a fraction of what the U.S. spends in a single day on the war in Iraq.

Jamie (website)
The City of Santa Monica would greatly benefit from preserving the “historic shotgun shack.” I should only hope that other cities follow suit and do the same – perhaps Los Angeles can preserve “beautiful skid row” and Corona can preserve “the wonderful smelling cow manure.” Oops, I accidentally used the word “greatly” instead of “not at all” at the beginning of my first sentence.

If word gets out to the gangs around town, they’re all going to show up to Santa Monica thinking the city is promoting and preserving shotguns. I don’t want to, but I feel I should remind you about what Michael Moore thinks about you Americans and your guns – guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Resurrecting the shotgun shack will mislead the gang-youth of this city. What does that mean?? It means when they get to the shack and realize it’s just a boring, old, gross-looking shack, they’re going to be pissed off and start robbing people to recompense themselves for the wasted gas money.

Dear Santa Monica, please focus your energy on cooler things like that store by the Promenade that has dinosaur bones and cool rocks in it.

Sean Chrétien
Since this is the maiden voyage of the ’Canadian Coffee Break’ I deem it apropos that we consider some less traditional avenues for this beloved shotgun shack that has so frequently found itself on the cusp of extermination. After some candid consideration, I think one way to ensure the permanence of this rustic beauty would be to simply turn it into a Starbucks. Surely a double whip non-fat caramel macchiatto serving barista in the front room and a public washroom (Canadian lexicon) in the rear would secure this neglected darling some more desirable real estate. I know my pseudo-socialist brethren would scream blasphemy at the idea (they would endorse Tim Horton’s over Starbs), but I figure our primary goals here are preservation and visibility – two things this shotgun shack has long sought. Would anyone argue that some strategically placed, stock-holding, curiously incestuous Starbucks employees would not up the attention paid to this structural titan exponentially?

As for the placement in the Ocean Park library parking lot, I can only say that diminishing the already minuscule number of available spots will only further cripple attendance to one of Santa Monica’s best kept secrets. Santa Monica’s City Council is setting aside/attempting to raise $250,000 for this relocation project. That’s $250,000 to place an already existing house in an already existing parking lot. I say, the City of Santa Monica and Starbucks get in cahoots with each other and build a poor man’s pier next to the already existing Ferris wheel-bearing one and we pop this Starbucks sanctioned shotgun at its end.

Ms Frabjabulous
“Shackin’ Up: The Nina Fresco Story: The Movie: The Ride”

Whilst reading this article, I took umbrage at the following paragraphs, describing the parking lot where they plan on moving the shotgun house:

“This lot at Second Street and Norman is currently in a state of disrepair,” said Nina Fresco, a Santa Monica Landmarks Commissioner and member of the Santa Monica Conservancy. “This is a great opportunity [to turn the lot around].”

[Sherrill] Kushner agreed, saying,

“The parking lot is really trashy. It’s not well kept; it’s not well lit. It’s got trash bins on it. For years, the library and retail stores have been complaining about this lot. And here’s an opportunity to clean it up.”

Now let me tell you all a little story about growing up back home in Hackett’s Cove, Nova Scotia. We had some neighbors with an outhouse on their lawn surrounded by a light snow of toilet paper, grocery bags, sunbleached toys and old detergent bottles. One time I saw into their house and right next to the front door was a laundry hamper overflowing with used diapers.

So when I hear about these Santa Monica namby-pamby granola-growing jasmine-green-tea-sipping giant-stroller-wielding PUSSIES complaining about a dirty parking lot it makes me laugh. Because:

1. It’s a parking lot. You park your car there. How clean should it really be? In a perfect world.
2. There’s not even a mention of hobo urine (the #1 icky parking lot item, followed by used condoms)
4. Nina Fresco – she even sounds like she has a rod up her ass
5. Don’t even get me started on spelling your name Sherrill

But then I read further into the article and found out that the whole parking lot cleaning and shotgun house moving enterprise would only cost $250,000, which I think is the same amount some jackasses at USC just received (as a grant), to build a new building in Second Life. An actual charitable organization or government body (in the real, physical world, not in a computer game) just decided it would be a good idea to pay $250,000 (American dollars, not Linden dollars) to build a building in an online game populated by virgins and the fat.

So fuck it, move the shotgun house and clean up that filthy parking lot, I bet it has disgusting flowers growing out of it’s gross cracked and grimy pavement. There’s probably even a motor oil spot somewhere. Oh, EW!

But let me tell you. In Nova Scotia, we have a place called the Sydney Tar Ponds, one of the most disgusting chemical lakes here on sunship Earth, and people always die of cancer around it, mainly because it’s in the middle of a city. But no one’s giving us $250,000 (US dollars–that’s more in Canada!) to clean it. Yeah. So think about that next time you refuse to park in a parking lot because it’s “really trashy” or “not well lit.”

Fucking Santa Monica man.

Photo credit: Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives, by way of

Special Note To Argonaut and Santa Monica Shotgun Shack Seekers:The Shotgun Shack is currently situated at the corner of Colorado and 14th — not 1601 Colorado as reported in the article, which may or may not have been a loosely-paraphrased version of the June 26 City Council Meeting Log – specifically Agenda Item 8-C. -ed