Study: Preservation Positive Los Angeles | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Study: Preservation Positive Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Conservancy has released a groundbreaking new study showing how preservation positively affects housing, affordability, sustainability, density, and economics.

Preservation Positive Los Angeles provides an in-depth look at historic preservation within L.A. and how historic places directly contribute to the overall livability of the city. While anecdotally we know preservation and the reuse of older and historic buildings benefits peoples’ lives, what has been missing—until now—is the data and analysis to fully back up these claims. This study demonstrates how preservation provides real value and positively impacts every Angeleno.

Our purpose for the study is to better understand how preservation contributes quantitatively and qualitatively, to the city's economic, social and environmental present and future.  

Some key findings include:

  • Only 6.2% of total parcels in L.A. have been identified as historic through designation or by SurveyLA, leaving 93.8% available for new development, increased density, and much-needed housing.
  • While historic designation is not feasible or appropriate for every older property, HPOZs protect affordable housing, foster neighborhood stability, and serve as home to a racially and economically diverse population.
  • Of the 35 HPOZs that currently exist, 21 have populations where there is a greater share of racial diversity than in the rest of the city. 
  • As much as 69% of housing in HPOZs has more than one unit, with 39% providing five or more units or apartments. This makes historic neighborhoods more accessible to renters and provides a greater range of rents and significantly higher density uses.
  • Rehabilitating older and historic buildings for new uses is not only cost-effective and good for the environment; it helps generate much-needed housing. Between 1999 and 2019, L.A. created over 12,000 new housing units through adaptive reuse of historic buildings.
Read The Planning Report's "Economic Argument for Historic Preservation: Older Housing is Affordable Housing" piece as part of a Q&A with the study's principal author, Donovan Rypkema.
Watch the California Preservation Foundation's May 5, 2020 webinar on Preservation Positive Los Angeles, featuring Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics. 
About PlaceEconomics
Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics, prepared the study for the Conservancy. PlaceEconomics is a private sector firm with over thirty years’ experience in the thorough and robust analysis of the economic impacts of historic preservation. They conduct studies, surveys, and workshops in cities and states across the country that are addressing issues of downtown, neighborhood, and commercial district revitalization and the reuse of historic buildings.

We would like to thank all of those whose financial contributions made this project and report possible.

Donaldson Trust
Stephen & Christy
Next Century Partners, Michael Rosenfeld

Architectural Resources Group
Bret Parsons, Bret Parsons Real Estate
Historic Resources Group
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Thomas Safran & Associates
Chattel, Inc.
GPA Consulting /Andrea Galvin
MATT Construction
Morley Builders
Nabih Youssef Associates
Structural Focus
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.