WAHA E-News 4-10-2008

WAHA Potluck this Saturday, Preservation Ordinance Hearing, and a Native Plants Event!

1). WAHA Elections and Potluck

Saturday, April 12
5 to 7 p.m.
1821 Westmoreland Boulevard (Harvard Heights, between Washington and Venice)

Please join WAHA on a visit to one of Harvard Heights' most stunning historic homes. You'll have a chance to tour this quintessential 1907 Craftsman house, owned by Odel Childress and Don Weggeman, and to enjoy its Japanese-style garden, which features fifty or so bonsai that have been cultivated over three decades, as well as a forest of sculptured Japanese black pines and pittosporum. This is WAHA's annual Elections meeting as well. Each candidate will have a chance to tell you why he or she is running for the WAHA Board. (Members, please read the Candidates' Statements in your April WAHA Matters newsletter on page 9.)

This is a potluck dinner event - please do bring a dish to share. Drinks are on us.

2). Native Plants and West Adams Gardens

Saturday, April 26
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
2657 South Van Buren Place (east of Normandie on the corner of 27th Street)

West Adams residents are invited to learn about the use of low-water and ecologically-friendly native plants for their gardens at this open house, garden visit, and talk by the renown garden expert Lili Singer. Sponsored by the Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the event is co-sponsored by the Theodore Payne Foundation, which will provide for sale native plants, books, and seeds. Hosts Jennifer Charnofsky and Leslie Evans have invited attendees to tour their historic 1910 Tudor Craftsman house, the Furlong Residence, which is a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument and is also listed on the federal Secretary of Interior's register of historic places. Charnofsky's award-winning garden is landscaped primarily in native and Mediterranean plants.

Lili Singer writes regularly on horticulture for the Los Angeles Times, and is one of Southern California's top native plant experts. Her talk will begin around 10:15 a.m. She will discuss what a native plant is, how to choose the best California natives for your garden, and simple ways to help them get established so that they will thrive.

The event is free. Please note that Van Buren Place is gated at Adams Boulevard, so you will need to enter from 27th Street.

3). Cultural Heritage Commission Hearing on New Ordinance

Thursday, April 17
After 10 a.m.
Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Room 1010 (10th floor)

The City's Office of Historic Resources and the Cultural Heritage Commission is conducting a public hearing to allow anyone interested in historic preservation issues (YOU) to provide input on a significant overhaul of the City's historic preservation ordinance.

The staff of the Office of Historic Resources (OHR) is proposing important changes aimed at strengthening demolition review procedures, clarifying criteria for historic designation, and enhancing notification of private property owners. The City of Los Angeles' Cultural Heritage Ordinance, originally approved by the City Council in 1962, created the procedures for the designation and protection of significant Los Angeles buildings and sites as Historic-Cultural Monuments. While the Ordinance has undergone several minor, procedural modifications, it has never been comprehensively updated to give our City a state-of-the-art historic preservation program.

WAHA, as many of you know, successfully advocated for some changes to the ordinance related to the definition of, and applicability of, the term "integrity." In the first round of discussions, staff was recommending that integrity be mandatory for all nominated properties. WAHA was worried that some, or even many, future endangered historic properties (if they were dilapidated and awaiting restoration) could be declined on integrity issues, even if they were significant historically. Indeed, there are many examples of current historic landmarks in West Adams that were not in restored condition at the time of their nomination (the longtime Cultural Heritage ordinance does not address integrity.) And, there is no true consensus on what constitutes integrity.

However, the staff has now adjusted the proposed ordinance, in part as a result of a WAHA PowerPoint presentation on "What Is Integrity?"

The draft ordinance section now reads:

"A proposed Monument may be designated by the City Council upon the recommendation of the Commission if it:

(A) Meets at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Reflects or exemplifies significant contributions to the broad cultural, political, economic or social history of the nation, state, city, or community; or

  2. Is identified with the lives of historic personages important to national, state, city, or local history; or

3) Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a style, type, period, or method of construction; or represents a notable work of a master builder, designer or architect whose genius influenced his or her age; or possesses high artistic values;

4) Has yielded, or has the potential to yield, information important to the pre-history or history of the nation, state, city or community.


(B) Retains integrity from its Period of Significance. Proposed Monuments do not need to retain all aspects of integrity, but should retain a sufficient degree of those aspects of integrity that relate to why it is significant. Flexibility shall be used in assessing integrity, particularly when a proposed Monument is significant under designation criteria 1 or 2 above. A proposed Monument's deferred maintenance or dilapidated condition shall not, on their own, be construed to equate to a loss of integrity."

The full text of the proposed ordinance is now available at:


If you cannot attend the hearing, your written comments and suggestions on these proposals may be submitted to:

Office of Historic Resources, Department of City Planning 200 N. Spring Street
Room 620
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Fax: (213) 978-0017

Website: http://preservation.lacity.org

The OHR and Commission will finalize the draft ordinance for submission to the City Council later this year.


We welcome your contributions to the WAHA E-News and West Adams Heritage Association's monthly publication, "West Adams Matters." Please understand that we do have deadlines. Material for the print newsletter should be submitted no later than the 1st of the prior month (i.e.: April 1 for the May issue). If your event is scheduled for early in a month, we suggest you request coverage for the prior month (i.e.: May issue for a June 3 event), because it's entirely possible that not all of our members will have received their newsletter by then (we do try hard.) We reserve the right to edit submitted material. For the WAHA E-News, we prefer to only send it out once or twice a month. Please don't wait until two days before an event to let us know about it. It may not be sent out.

If you suddenly hear of an important city hearing or other public meeting that is important to West Adams, we will endeavor to send out a special bulletin.

Submit your material to Laura Meyers, editor, lauramink@aol.com.