Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

City Proposes Amendments to HPOZ Ordinance

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The City of LA’s Department of City Planning has proposed several amendments to its Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) Ordinance to improve the HPOZ program. The changes proposed are designed to improve procedures in the ordinance that have caused problems in efficiently implementing the current 30 HPOZs and seven new HPOZs expected to be adopted from 2016-2017.  Local HPOZ experts generally regard the proposed changes as positive. 

Among the changes proposed is the removal of the requirement that each HPOZ have its own board to administer the Preservation Plan, and allow joint administration of two or more Preservation Zones by a single Board in a community of interest.  This is currently the situation in the neighborhoods of Country Club Park, Wilshire Park  and Windsor Village. (Note that there is no change proposed to the composition of a Board that serves a single HPOZ.)

Another proposed change is the creation of proportional thresholds instead of flat thresholds. Currently, the ordinance restricts Conforming Work for Contributing Elements to additions under 250 square-feet, and requires larger additions and all new structures to be processed under a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), even if they are not visible from the street.

However, in HPOZs with homes as small as 1,000 square feet, a 250 square-foot addition is a 25% increase in the size of the structure; whereas, on a larger 5,000 square-foot structure, a 250 square-foot addition is only a 5% increase in the size of the structure. The proposed amendment addresses this concern by replacing the flat 250 sq. ft. threshold with a proportional approach: non-visible additions and new construction that result in a less than 20% increase of the building coverage may be processed as Major Conforming Work. The construction of accessory structures and the demolition of accessory structures verified as non-historic are also proposed to qualify as Conforming Work.

Another change would improve regulations for non-contributing properties by allowing the  board to deny a project with non-conforming elements.  According to the Department of Planning, the current ordinance requires that almost all Conforming Work on Non-Contributing features be “signed-off” on or approved. In implementation, the lack of review authority and design standards has resulted in projects that have proven detrimental to the overall historic character of HPOZ neighborhoods. The proposed amendments would remedy this discrepancy by enabling the HPOZ Board to review projects affecting Non-Contributing Elements for conformity with the Preservation Plan and allowing for design guidelines for alterations to Non-Contributing Elements, which will still provide greater leeway for changes than on projects affecting Contributing Elements. If a project did not conform, then the Conforming Work would be denied and a Certificate of Compatibility (CCMP) could be pursued.

The City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning will hold the first combined Informational Open House and Public Hearing on Thursday, July 7th, at the Will and Ariel Durant Library, at 7140 W. Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90046. The Informational Open House will be held at 6:00 p.m. and the official Public Hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Two days later, on Saturday, July 9th, at 10:00 a.m. a second combined Informational Open House and Public Hearing will be held at the City Council District 10 Field Office, at 1819 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006. The Informational Open House will be held at 10:00 a.m. and the official Public Hearing will begin at 11:00 a.m.

The Department of City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources has released the draft amendments for review and public comment through August 11th. To comment, please email Blair Smith at [email protected].

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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