Preservation Ordinance call to arms!
- Dear Neighbors:
Preservation advocacy alert:
When: Thursday, September 10
What: Planning Commission/City Hall considers Historical Cultural Monuments ordinance revision again, regarding "maintaining protections for interiors of Historical Cultural Monuments as well as the exteriors. Support the Aug. 28th Draft Preservation Ordinance."
What: Write letter or email to:
William Rauschen, President of the Planning
200 N. Spring St.,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
You may email your letters to the following:
Full content of background letter is in the body of this email and also attached.
To attend the hearing, check City Hall meetings schedule @ lacity.org. Can secure free parking by calling CD 4 office.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Patricia Carroll <pacmva@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Fw: Preservation Ordinance call to arms!
To: Karen Gilman <gilperson2@...>
Subject: Preservation Ordinance call to arms!
As many of you know, The Los Angeles office of Historic resources has been attempting to update and strengthen the Preservation ordinance first adopted in 1962. After a near disastrous hearing in July, the entire process was almost derailed.C2 I have been on a working committee to try to cobble together a compromise that all sides can live with. There is a new hearing coming up on Sept. 10 and the fate of historic preservation in Los Angeles hangs by a thread. Please read the word doc. below and send to all of your friends, family members , coworkers etc. Numbers count! There are instruction as to how you can make a difference at the end of the document. Of course, time is of the essence!
Have a wonderful three day weekend! But please remember to help save Los Angeles's past and write a
letter within the next week!
Rory Cunningham (St. Andrews Square Assn.)
Preservation News Concerning Landmark L.A. Buildings!
PLEASE READ—WE NEED
First, a Bit of Background
You might be surprised to learn that, contrary to popular
belief, Los Angeles adopted a historic preservation ordinance in 1962. Not only was this earlier than most major
cities in the U.S., it was also considerably more comprehensive than most large
cities have even today.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Office of Historic
Resources (OHR), housed within the Department of Planning, had set out create a
more comprehensive ordinance that sought to further strengthen the 1962
ordinance as well as clarify ambiguous language within the document.
The Back-Door Deal
Two meetings were held for owners of HCM (Histori
Monuments): one for owners of commercial properties; the other for private
property owners. At these meetings HCM
owners aired many concerns. The OHR then
revised the Draft Ordinance with input from a very select group. During this time the Central City Association
(CCA), a group of commercial property owners with holdings in the downtown
core, had struck a separate deal with the Los Angeles Conservancy (LAC) that
was adopted into the Draft Ordinance. This “agreement” literally traded the
Denial of Demolition on any HCM for the stripping of any interior of ANH
building to be declared an HCM.
The implications of this deal are positively chilling for
historic properties in Los Angeles. For example, under the language agreed upon
by the CCA and the LAC, any historic theater, say the Hollywood Pantages, could
have the entirety of its interior demolished, provided that the exterior
remained intact. It doesn’t take much
imagination to see how the ripples from this change can impact any of our
city’s architectural gems—properties designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard
Neutra, or the John Lautner house; the Central Library, Bullocks Wilshire, the
Bradbury Building, even City Hall itself.
This particular deal would also have allowed demolitions of any HCM in
the case of a stated financial hardship on the part of the owner. It is not hard to see where this would have
lead especially in a major recession like the one we are curr
Community Pulls No Punches at Commission Hearing
News of this new language in the Draft Ordinance reached
other preservation groups on the afternoon of July 3rd of this
year. Because of the three-day weekend,
this meant that preservation advocates had only two business days to rally
forces to refute the new language before the July 9th Planning
Commission hearing. Dozens of
preservationists came to speak to the Commission bolstered by hundreds of
letters from others who could not attend.
Then something extraordinary happened. In order to take a vote on any planning issue
a simple majority of the 9 commissioners must be present for the vote, there
were only 5 in attendance. But in order
for an ordinance to pass there must be 5 votes.
Four of the commissioners were so moved by the passion and reasoning of
the preservationists’ arguments outlining the vital importance of preserving
both interiors and exteriors of L.A.’s HCMs that they voted to not only uphold
the Draft Ordinance language, but also to supersede the closed-door deal struck
by the CCA and the LAC!
The fifth commissioner, however, could not be moved (indeed,
in a particularly telling moment he asked, in all seriousness: “Who is this Secretary of Interiors anyway?”
Hopefully he has since done his homework to know why all in attendance laughed
at him). And the ordinance vote was
postponed to20the September 10th mtg.
Where We Are Now
The objectionable portions of the ordinance have since been
reviewed by two separate groups:
Preservation advocates, including The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles,
West Adams Heritage Association, Highland Park Trust, Hollywood Heritage, the
LAC and others; and business owners and their team of lawyers, notably the Los
Angeles Athletic Club and the CCA. The
biggest point of contention was the insistence by the business faction that
ONLY single-family residences should have their interiors protected, a point
unequivocally opposed by preservation groups, because, if enacted, would leave
remove all protections of the interiors (including lobbies) of any
multiple-family dwelling like the El Royal, or hotels like the Biltmore, or
movie palaces like the Wiltern. Complicating matters still further, how would a
property that has undergone changes between commercial and residential be
handled? This would include large
mansions that may now be used as churches, schools or offices, as well as any
of a number of commercial and industrial buildings that have undergone the
transformation to loft housing.
After exploring a
wide array of potential solutions to interior designations, the group came to a
broad consensus around a preferred approach: Review of interior work would not
be subject to a Certificate of Appropriateness under the new ordinance. Instead, the review of interior work would remain
under the control of the current Cultural Heritag
interior work would continue to be referred to the Cultural Heritage Commission
(CHC) and the Office of Historic Resources for review. However, the CHC could not deny approval of
interior work altogether; it could only object to the issuance of the permit
for no more than 180 days, with a possible 180-day extension of the objection
period upon approval of the City Council.
The ordinance would
require a Certificate of Appropriateness only for exterior work, or for additions
or new construction; a Certificate of Hardship would be required for approval
of demolition of a Historic-Cultural Monument.
This new consensus
brings us very close to what the 1962 ordinance had established which by in
large worked for all parties for close to 50 years.
parties will have the ability to have their voices heard once again at the next
Planning Commission Hearing on September 10th.
We Need Your Help
Please try to show
up at City Hall on September 10th (time yet to be determined) for
the Los Angeles City Planning Commission hearing and voice your opinion. Remember, in a democracy every voice counts,
but you must speak to be heard!
What You CAN Do
Please write a
letter stressing your support for the current (Aug 28th) Draft
Include your name,0Aand any preservation organization with which you may be affiliated.
that you should stress in your letter include:
Interior spaces of all HCMs are intrinsically important to the history
of the building/structure, commercial as well as residential.
The CCA and other Downtown interests are not representative of all of
Saving Los Angeles’s built past for future generations to study and
enjoy will ensure that those who made our city great will not be forgotten.
Feel free to include specific examples of historic interior spaces which
would diminish Los Angeles should they be lost forever!
letters to: William Rauschen, President
of the Planning Commission and email you letters to the following:
By writing a letter in support of historic preservation, you
will show that the citizens of Southern California care about our history. Please pass this info on to others to help
save our historic and cultural past for future generations.
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