EDITOR’S DESK: How compatible are we?

       One of the most hotly debated issues among Involved Westsiders is architecture. What is “compatible” and what is not? The Westside Plan, created as a city ordinance 25 years ago, is not a real help. “If there is one single point that is critical in the future evolution of land uses within the study area needing particular scrutiny, it is the question of compatibility,” the plan wisely asserts, then proceeds to punt on the matter by calling for design standards to define it. Unfortunately, because such standards still have not been created, we remain as much in the dark today about compatibility as perhaps the people were then.
       The situation is amusing in a way, but it also can lead to problems. A person could make a strong case that the current split within the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) stems from differing opinions on architectural compatibility. Some people are just happy when a property gets fixed up, while others think that's not enough, that being compatible means not clashing with Victorians.
       A recent example is the redevelopment of the building at 1621 W. Colorado Ave. Joe and Linda Schmeiler spent more than $750,000 on the project, and the dramatic difference can be seen in the before/after photos on Page 6 of this issue. Gone are the problem tenants of previous years; in their place we can expect professionals of good character who will provide quality services and thus upgrade our part of town. Is this enough? A purist might argue that the building has no clear style and thus is compatible with nothing. Others might say its combination of brick and steel make it compatible with just about everything. What do I say? Is it a punt to simply say "Thank you"?

- K.J.