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Laguna Beach planners urge that iconic gay bar be memorialized as they approve inn's renovation

May 22, 2010 |  8:29 am

Laguna Beach planners like plans to transform the old Coast Inn -- but are still pressing for a public exhibit that would honor the property's past as a world-famous gay bar.

The site of the Boom Boom Room — the iconic bar where Rock Hudson and other gay mega-stars hobnobbed — will become a 13-space parking garage under plans approved unanimously by the commission.

Architect Morris Skenderian proposed that a historic exhibit about the Coast Inn and its importance in Laguna Beach be placed either in the hotel lobby or in the restaurant/bar area; that it be prepared by an approved historic consultant and “subject to the approval” of the property owner, former AIG executive Steven Udvar-Hazy.

Udvar-Hazy has been pressured for several years to donate the property to the city as a gay community center.

Commissioners continued to press Skenderian to promise that the property’s long history as a gay gathering place would be included in the historic exhibit, and some were concerned the site would be too “private.”

“This building has been of tremendous importance to a community that had few public places to meet,” said Chairwoman Anne Johnson. “There are couples in town who met there. A retail space is not a place to socialize and it would be very wrong to exclude that. The interpretive exhibit should be in a public area.”

Read the full story here.

-- Cindy Frasier