Is gay bar historic landmark? Laguna Beach debates future of Boom Boom Room
Some residents in Laguna Beach are pushing for historic status for a building that for decades housed an iconic gay bar that they consider central to the city's history.
The Boom Boom Room, they argue, is an important element of gay life that requires memorializing, a place where Rock Hudson for decades held court.
The proposed renovation of the Coast Inn got a unanimous vote of approval April 14 from the Laguna Beach Planning Commission. But still unsettled is the question of whether the property — former site of the Boom Boom Room — will be granted a coveted “K” rating for its historic importance to the city.
Gay activists have sought to pressure the owner, Steven Udvar-Hazy, into keeping the Boom Boom Room open or donating the property to the city as a gay center, citing its history as a center of gay culture. The bar closed in 2008, but the hotel has remained open at 1401 S. Coast Hwy.
Udvar-Hazy, who bought the property five years ago, plans to convert the aging 1928 structure from a 25-unit hotel into a 10-suite “boutique” resort with rooftop pool and 13-space parking garage, according to the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot.
According to plans approved by the Planning Commission, the owner will restore an original Spanish-style cupola, turret and awnings to invoke the era of Laguna Beach in the 1930s and ’40s, when the town was being established as a resort — but no restaurant or nightclub would be included.
Two bars have been part of the property since it was built, according to records provided to the city by the owner.
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Photo: Flier from 2008 trying to save bar from closure.