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How to Secure an HPOZ

November 13, 1994|R. DANIEL FOSTER

An HPOZ is usually initiated by homeowners and renters who perceive that their neighborhood's character is being lost to development or inappropriate design alterations. A member of the Los Angeles City Council makes a motion to look into the designation, and the council eventually votes on the issue after the following steps are taken:

--Neighbors form a committee to prepare an architectural survey for the city. The survey includes photographs of homes and other buildings thought to be historic, a history of the community and records of individual structures (includes building permits, names of architects or builders and architectural styles).

--The committee holds meetings to educate residents about the proposed HPOZ and submits the survey to them for review.

--The committee drafts a petition stating its intention to form an HPOZ and gathers signatures from a solid majority of homeowners and renters.

--The survey and petition are submitted to the city's Cultural Heritage Commission and then to the city's Planning Department for review. The city council then votes on the HPOZ. Public hearings are held during each of the three approval stages.

--The new HPOZ forms a five-member preservation association that reviews any routine design alterations to structures in the zone. Three of the association's members must be owners or renters living within the zone and two members are appointed by the city. Once the HPOZ association approves plans, owners can proceed with their projects. There are no initial fees or annual dues for HPOZ residents.

--Proposed building permits for additions, new structures or major alterations are sent to the HPOZ association, which sends its recommendations to the Cultural Heritage Commission and the city's Planning Department for approval. If denied, property owners can appeal to the planning commission, and finally, the city council. Approved building permits for major projects often require a $298 certificate of appropriateness. Most design plans (replacing windows, resurfacing a house, adding a patio, etc.) are handled at the neighborhood level, requiring only the HPOZ association's review. They involve no extra cost.

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