Preservation Issues

By Jim Robinson, President

WAHA members should be very proud of the role they played in persuading the Planning Commission to continue protecting monument interiors through the city's Cultural Heritage Ordinance.

Many WAHA members were among the dozens of preservationists who spoke at the commission's final hearing Thursday in the City Council Chamber, arguing that historic interiors can be just as important as exteriors sometimes more so.

Over the previous two months, WAHA members Rory Cunningham, Laura Meyers, Mitzi Mogul and David Rapoza joined me and other preservationists in a Working Group formed by the Planning Department that spent more than 12 hours trying to persuade some of the city's most powerful interests to withdraw their opposition.

Opponents at Thursday's commission hearing included the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, a consortium of film studios, and the Central City Association, representing hundreds of major businesses.


Ken Bernstein of the City's Office of Historic Resources writes: The Department of City Planning is partnering with the Los Angeles Conservancy for the eighth straight year to organize this special event focused on the City's historic districts, the 24 HPOZs. The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Angelica Lutheran Church, 1345 S. Burlington Ave., in the Pico Union HPOZ.

In the past, the conference has been largely a training session for HPOZ board members. But this year, we're seeking to build broader awareness and understanding of our HPOZ program by inviting any and all who are interested in historic preservation.

We'll be offering a stimulating day of workshops, tours, and networking, including:

● The first HPOZ Awards Luncheon, honoring outstanding projects within the city's 24 HPOZs.

● Pico Union Walking Tours, including the Alvarado Terrace National Register District

● A hands-on workshop on window repair


By Jim Robinson

The debate on Los Angeles’ new historic preservation ordinance has been taking so long that, by the time a decision is made, the ordinance itself may qualify as historic. In June, the city's Planning Commission again postponed its vote on amendments that would protect L.A.'s historic-cultural monuments from demolition. The next meeting has been set for September.

The new protection is part of a package of proposed changes to the city’s Cultural Heritage Ordinance, the first significant overhaul of that legislation since it was passed by the City Council in 1982. Other changes would clarify criteria for historic designation and provide earlier notification to property owners. (For the complete ordinance, go to


MY HISTORIC L.A.: PRESERVING LOS ANGELES SurveyLA Kickoff Event Saturday, April 4, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Los Angeles Central Library, 630 West 5th St. (Downtown)

West Adams friends and neighbors are invited (urged!) to the citywide kickoff of SurveyLA, Los Angeles' first-ever comprehensive survey of its historic resources. Please join like-minded historic preservation advocates and share your knowledge of L.A.'s hidden gems -- historic and cultural sites in your neighborhood that may otherwise be overlooked. The survey marks a coming-of-age for Los Angeles' historic preservation movement, and will serve as a centerpiece for the City's first truly comprehensive preservation program.


By Laura Meyers

Amending a decades-old historic preservation ordinance is not proving to be a smooth ride for city officials. After some vocal opposition by some owners of major historic properties, including the Biltmore Hotel, the Pacific Mutual Building and the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the previously scheduled public hearing on the matter has been deferred to May. The City Planning Commission's consideration of amendments to the Cultural Heritage Ordinance, originally scheduled for March 12, has been continued to the Commission's meeting of May 14. The City Cultural Heritage Commission voted on November 20, 2008 to recommend these amendments, which represent a significant overhaul of the City's historic preservation ordinance.


Lone Washington Blvd. survivor moved from pending school site to new location in Harvard Heights.

As you drive down Washington Boulevard between Arlington and Crenshaw, no doubt you have seen the giant empty lots with one lone house – nicknamed "the Dollhouse" – still standing toward the back. Now, we are happy to report, the house, which has architectural elements similar to the landmark South Seas House a few blocks away, has trucked on down the road to Harvard Heights, where it is now set in the backyard of a historic house.


Planning Department in October 10 hearing agrees to let developers submit a second draft of the less stringent Mitigated Negative Declaration.

By Jim Childs

November, 2007. The owner of a two-acre site at Washington Boulevard and Oak Street has received a second chance to avoid preparing a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on its proposed, six-story condominium project in the University Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.

At an Oct. 10 public hearing at City Hall, Hearing Officer Maya Zaitzevsky rejected a Mitigated Negative Declaration - an abbreviated environmental document that would have allowed Anastasi Development Corp. to avoid a full environmental study.

But she reluctantly agreed to let Anastasi submit a new MND, in which the developer will try to respond to issues raised in public submissions and comments. Anastasi is also seeking approval of a tentative tract map and a zone change for the 142-unit project.


City planner's decision to ignore provisions of HPOZ Preservation Plan threaten the effectiveness of historic districts throughout Los Angeles.

By Jim Robinson

October 2007. WAHA has thrown its support behind University Park residents opposed to a city planner's decision that threatens the effectiveness of historic districts throughout Los Angeles.

Planner Theodore Irving has tentatively ruled that a proposed, block-long condominium project does not require an environmental impact report, even though it lies entirely within the University Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).

His findings, along with the project's proposed tract map and zoning changes, will be considered at a public hearing in Room 1020 of City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 10:15 a.m. Neighbors and the HPOZ board are calling for a full environmental study.


WAHA wants to alert you to TWO separate preservation issues being heard at City Hall on Wednesday morning, October 10 (same day, same building, two locations.)

The full City Council is slated to vote on the landmark status for the Felix Chevrolet Showroom and Felix the Cat neon Sign at its meeting which begins at 10 a.m. At just about the same time, the City's Deputy Advisory Agency will consider a large residential condominium project that impacts (and may compromise) the University Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.

If you can't take the morning off from work, never fear - at the bottom of this memo are numerous contact e-mail addresses, in the hope that you can write letters in the next day or so (in advance of the hearings.)