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The rigors of securing 'historic' designation

September 30, 2007|Dinah Eng | Special to The Times

Residents who want their neighborhoods to establish an HPOZ must go through a lengthy application process, said Ken Bernstein, manager of the Office of Historic Resources in the city's planning department.

It starts with a historical survey of an area to classify each property as contributing or not contributing to the historic district. The surveys, he noted, are voluminous and are often stumbling blocks for neighborhoods.

Surveys cost roughly $100 or more per parcel of land, so surveying a potential historic district with 1,000 properties could cost upward of $100,000. Funding for these initial surveys may come from city or federal money, but some communities have covered the expense themselves.

Despite the costs, Bernstein said, "the demand for new HPOZs has outpaced the ability to process proposed new districts." Los Angeles will be conducting citywide surveys from 2009 to 2011, providing base-level information that will make it easier for neighborhoods to apply for HPOZ status.

Among L.A.'s architecturally diverse communities seeking historic designation are Stonehurst in Sun Valley, a unique enclave of more than 60 native stone structures reflecting the ideals of the early 20th century Arts and Crafts movement; Garvanza in Highland Park, with Craftsman and Victorian homes dating from the 1880s; and Balboa Highlands in Granada Hills, filled with sleek wood-and-glass tract homes built by the progressive developer Joseph Eichler, forming one of the best groupings of Midcentury Modern homes in the city.

Other neighborhoods with pending applications include Los Feliz, Larchmont Heights, Victoria Park, Wellington Square, Jefferson Park, Country Club Park, Angelino Heights Expansion, Lincoln Heights Expansion, Sunset Square, Echo Park, El Sereno-Berkshire Craftsman and Revival Bungalow Village, Wilshire Park and Windsor Village.

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