HISTORIC PRESERVATION OVERLAY ZONES:
LOS ANGELES' HISTORIC DISTRICTS
Photo by Larry Underhill
In the City of Los Angeles, historic districts are called Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, or HPOZs. There are currently 24 HPOZs designated by the City, with about a dozen more in the planning process.
HPOZs are one of the most effective ways for residents to protect the unique character of their historic neighborhoods, which is increasingly threatened with mansionization and overdevelopment. "Contributing structures" in an HPOZ also qualify for significant tax reductions through the state Mills Act.
The Conservancy works actively with HPOZs to educate and celebrate the history of Los Angeles’ unique neighborhoods. The Conservancy has recently been working in the Pico Union HPOZ to bring awareness to its diverse architectural and cultural heritage.
About Pico Union Layers of History
Pico Union Self-Guided Tour Brochure (pdf)
Pico Union Community Profile
Below are an overview of HPOZs and brief descriptions of each of L.A.'s designated HPOZs as of 2007. These are Adobe PDF files, which require the free Adobe Reader to view. At the end of the list is a large PDF file with the entire document.
L.A.'s Historic Preservation Overlay Zones
(as of August 2007)
Overview: What in the world is an HPOZ?
Map of current HPOZs
Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract
Miracle Mile North
West Adams Terrace
Download entire HPOZ document (3.4 MB)
HPOZ Ordinance as of May 2004 (PDF file)
How HPOZs Are Created
Becoming an HPOZ is a grassroots process that requires the desire, support, education, organization, and persistence of the people who live in historic neighborhoods. They receive help along the way from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, their local City Council office, and the Los Angeles Conservancy. These groups also provide support after HPOZ designation, through in-depth training and ongoing assistance with the various aspects of managing HPOZs.
|Photo by Margaret Hudson.
Most communities start by organizing neighborhood meetings to inform residents about the process and discuss the benefits of having an HPOZ established in their neighborhood.
Their Councilmember can introduce a City Council motion initiating the HPOZ process.
The HPOZ application must include a detailed cultural resource survey of the neighborhood. The survey defines the proposed HPOZ boundaries, contains a brief description and photograph(s) of each structure within the boundaries, and and identifies each structure as either "contributing" or "non-contributing."
In general, "contributing" structures exemplify predominant architectural styles of the area and were built during the time period when the bulk of the structures in the HPOZ were constructed. "Non-contributing" structures typically have been severely altered and/or were built after most of the historic structures in the area, and therefore do not contribute to the historic architectural fabric of the area. The survey may also identify landscaping and natural features.
The survey also includes an overview of the community’s development, to place its historical and architectural significance in context with that of Los Angeles as a whole.
The assembled HPOZ application, including the completed survey and letters of support from the community, is first sent to the Planning Department, then reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission and the City Planning Commission, before going to the City Council for final approval. The designation process generally takes six months to a year after submission of the application. The entire process, from initiation to completion, can take several years.
For More Information
HPOZs are administered by the Office of Historic Resources in the Department of City Planning. Yet the City Council ultimately approves HPOZ designation, so it's a good idea to contact your councilmember early on in the process. For more information, contact:
Office of Historic Resources,
Department of City Planning
cityplanning.lacity.org ("Historic Preservation")
Your Local City Council Office
Los Angeles Conservancy
Other Historic Neighborhoods
Officially designated HPOZs are only a portion of the city's historic neighborhoods. Others that the Conservancy has profiled include: