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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.

Read the full story here.

--Cindy Frasier

Photo: Flier from 2008 trying to save bar from closure.

Comments () | Archives (46)

Since when did sexuality become criteria for achieving historic status? There are many 'straight' bars with equal or longer history that should be noted as 'historic' if that's the case! Ridiculous!

It had its day, now is the time for renovation and the new proposal sounds great.

Pathetic flamers with the same ME ME ME attitude

I'd like to know why those silly homosexuals think that hideous place deserves historical recognition.Tear it down and lets all try to erase any memory of it.

It is about time to start recognizing that gays are part of history too.

It did have it's day. Laguna is no longer a gay mecca it was for decades.

There are 'straight' bars considered state/national landmarks... Mainly in NY and Boston.

The Boom Boom Room was my first gay bar and I've visited many times since. Very fond memories of dancing and drinking and meeting new guys and stumbling up to my room and sleeping on the balcony enjoying the sea air. I miss it!

But times change. I'm okay with something new.

Now the Revolver in West Hollywood! THAT shoulda been saved! :)

What a foolish criteria for designation of a "landmark". If it was famous for a specialty fruit drink or being able to insure ones self with a piece of the rock maybe. But just gay, naw!!

Laguna would be totally nowhere without the gay community.
Can't we have just one?

Having lived 18 years in California, 9 of which were in Laguna Beach. I have to say, that when I go back and visit, I'm "saddened" to see that Laguna seems to be losing it's "village" charm that made it a great place to live as well as for out of town guest. The "Boom-Boom" room has always been a staple/fixture of what made Laguna, what it is known for. It would be disappointing to see the structure change, and more importantly not to have a space for the gay community to gather. At what point do you say "enough is enough" and take a stand to keep history alive. I hope the gay community rallies together and puts up a fight to keep an important part of their heritage alive. Does Laguna really need another posh motel/hotel/etc...........

No mention of the age of the "historic" club.

Another example of a minority group pushing their extreme agenda not only on a private property owner but on city government. Is this really a positive image for the city of Laguna Beach, a traditional family oriented community? I don't think so.

yeap. a landmark of embarrassment and perversion.
I guess a place where people were filming bestiality porn in bay area is also a landmark...

Take it down

Steven Udvar-Hazy, don't give in to those that want it to stay gay! The memory will always be there, but times have changed and it's time for it to change! Do what you want to do to it to make money. Laguna still has their art festival, so there will always be gay in the city.

I guess what ever the "Guy people"will do it will be hitory from mow on just facts that are guys, Give a break.

I wonder how many gay men contracted HIV after hooking up with someone at this bar?

How old is the club? Interesting how the author conveniently leaves out that critical piece of information. Makes one doubt she has any journalistic integrity at all.

Wow....what a sick world we live in......

No self-respecting gay would return to Laguna. The yuppie Neo-cons took over a long time ago. Now its all inflated ego's, fake tans and bad art.
It'll never be the same.

Now I have heard everything.

Rick - didn't you know if you decide to be gay you are suddenly considered "special"? Yes some struggle with their sexuality and it must be more difficult than I could imagine but it is so popular now to be gay/different/narcissistic I feel I am going to puke - something like The Greatest Generation will NEVER return at this rate. Once don't ask don't tell is repealed by Obama "special" showers will have to be designated for gays because the other warriors don't want to be soaping all their areas in view of someone who may like what they see. Funny how nobody expects a woman to shower with men because of what they may be thinking but gay men showering with other men(?) those homophobes need to get over it. You can call it a "your special" gay double standard - treat someone who is gay how they prefer to be treated BUT when some heterosexual wants to be treated in a way they would feel comfortable - THEY just need to get over it.

What a crock! That part of Laguna needs a little life forced into it. A change would be a start. Boom Boom was a bar, since when is a bar a historical site. Does Goathill Tavern get historical status? What a load.

....Since when did sexuality become criteria?...

What I would like to know is how many businesses have been open since the mid 20's in the same building. Conservative OC would like nothing more than to close all gay bars and make boutique hotels out of them.

If there were a landmark civil-rights case started there, that would be one thing. However, something with historic status should mark a turning point in a culture. Homosexuality is not a culture, and the bar marks no such turning point. Homosexuality is a gender preference in regards to sexuality, nothing more. It is not basis for discrimination or special treatment. I say renovate the bar and celebrate the change.

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