Notable Improvements | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photos (l-r): Witch's House, Beverly Hills by Lori Branham on Flickr; Bob's Big Boy, Burbank from Conservancy archives; Benson House, Calabasas by Larry Underhill.

Congratulations to the following cities, which have made significant strides in their preservation programs since the release of our last Preservation Report Card in 2008.

Beverly Hills

In 2008, Beverly Hills had a very weak historic preservation ordinance that offered honorary landmark status and no true protections (and had never even been used to landmark any structures). The city had updated a 2006 survey of its commercial area, but the existing citywide survey from 1986 was over twenty years old and sorely out of date.

Sometimes, the threats to a specific historic building—and the efforts to save it—galvanize support that leads to something much bigger. In the wake of some high-profile demolitions, Beverly Hills catapulted ahead with a strong and active historic preservation program.

The city adopted an innovative and strong historic preservation ordinance in 2012 and has implemented the Mills Act program, a powerful preservation incentive. The city has also hired a dedicated historic preservation planner and created a Cultural Heritage Commission.

Now celebrating its centenary, Beverly Hills is conducting a comprehensive update to its citywide survey and has already designated more than a dozen local landmarks.

Burbank

In 2008, Burbank had yet to designate any local landmarks, despite having had a historic preservation ordinance since 1994. The ordinance did not allow for the designation of historic districts, and it contained landmark designation criteria that were not based on state or national models.

Since 2009, Burbank has transformed its approach to historic preservation by making significant improvements to its program. The city completed a citywide survey and historic context statement in 2009, adopted the popular Mills Act program in 2010, and has begun to designate local landmarks.

The city updated its historic resource management ordinance in 2011, with notable amendments including the ability to designate local historic districts.

The city has further demonstrated its commitment to historic preservation through public education and outreach via the web. Like a growing number of communities, Burbank has a dedicated webpage for its historic preservation program that includes links to its historic context report and preservation plan. To engage the next generation, Burbank has also developed a kid’s section on its website.

Calabasas

In 2008, Calabasas had recently adopted its historic preservation ordinance, implemented the Mills Act, and was conducting its first citywide survey of historic resources. The city has continued to make great strides in developing its preservation program.

Calabasas became a Certified Local Government in 2009, indicating its strong commitment to a professionalized preservation program. The city has also been actively designating local landmarks, which include structures from the recent past of the 1970s and ’80s, and is adding cultural landscapes to the city’s historic context statement.