A unanimous vote by the Cultural Heritage Commission Monday night passed an agenda item to designate the World Famous VIP Records sign as a historic landmark.
The iconic sign will be stored in a temporary location before being restored and relocated to a new permanent location, pending a vote from the Long Beach City Council in December.
“I’m very happy, this is a great night that I’ve been looking forward to,” Kelvin Anderson, founder of VIP Records, told the Post. “According to the mayor, designation of the sign would open up bigger opportunities for funding and programs. Hopefully we can push it to the city council vote and get to start working to build new VIP experiences in music, business and education.”
Kelvin Anderson (fifth from left) with supporters at City Hall. Photos by Michael Garcia.
Anderson and VIP Records are associated credited with the early development of west coast hip-hop artists like Nate Dogg, Warren G, Snoop Dogg and the group 213.
The sign will be moved in about 30 days as VIP plans to bid on a city-owned vacant lot across the street of the record store’s original location on Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. VIP is still looking for a place to store the sign.
“We’re trying to work out a situation where we can get access to that property and bring a new VIP experience, but if that doesn't happen we’re open from the 91 to the Queen Mary wherever that lands,” Anderson said. “But I would be honored to keep the sign here close to the community.”
Among the dozens of supporters who turned out to speak in favor of VIP was California Treasurer and candidate for governor John Chiang who pushed for the designation citing the importance of preserving the diversity and history of Long Beach.
“I think it’s important that we recognize the great history and contributions of VIP, not only from an artistic perspective but what it's done for social, psychological and emotional development of individuals, especially those who have struggled and overcome,” Chiang said during the hour-long comments portion of the hearing.
Shirin Senegal, president of VIP Records, stressed the importance of preserving the landmark and pointed out that there are only 4 percent of African American landmarks nationally.
Long Beach locals and those helped by Anderson over the years pushed for preservation, recalling stories of how Anderson’s store provided a safe haven from gang violence in the 80s and 90s.
Artist Young Hype said Anderson gave him a consignment deal allowing him to get a start on his music career. A former Long Beach resident recalled when he was a mailman and was asked by a tour bus driver where VIP Records was located. A woman who moved from Orange County to Long Beach shared how her son took an interest in rap music and stressed the connection between the city and music.
California Treasurer and candidate for governor John Chiang and VIP Records founder Kelvin Anderson speak on the importance of preservation before the Cultural Heritage Commission meeting at City Hall.
The designation by the Cultural Heritage Commission passed after the members found it met both criteria for designating a historic landmark: historical significance as VIP was involved in the development of western rap music from the 80s to the early 2000s and its association with the life of an important person, in this case Anderson for his community contributions.
The Long Beach City Council will vote on the landmark designation in December.