Residents of Jefferson Park have intensified their efforts over the past few weeks to gain Historic
Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) protections from the City for their classic “California bungalow” architecture.
Frustrated by what they perceive to be indifference from city officials, including Council District 10 (CD10), the Planning Department, and the City Attorney, they have begun a public outreach and letter writing campaign to persuade the City to take action.
The community has been spurred on by a recent spate of permitted and unpermitted work in the neighborhood that has resulted in the irreversible damage to the historic integrity of several Craftsman bungalows.
Jefferson Park is widely known to have one of the nation’s best collections of the iconic cottages, which were widely built in Los Angeles for middle class transplants from the Midwest in the early 20th century. Since then, the modest homes have served as the bedrock housing type for Japanese, African-American, and Latino communities. Community HPOZ supporters believe that preserving the history of the neighborhood is important for community identity and memory, as well as the economic vitality of the area, from stabilizing property values to generating revenue from filming.
Community members started the HPOZ process over eight years ago, in early 2002, by gathering signatures from neighborhood residents.
This grassroots movement led then-councilmember Nate Holden to introduce a motion to the LA City Council to direct the planning department to gather the necessary data to make a Jefferson Park HPOZ a reality. Over the years, the process has stopped and started depending on available city financing and staff availability. Finally, by summer of 2009, the City was able to finance and finish, with significant community help, the collection of historical data that would become the basis of a historic designation. Unfortunately, due to the recent severe budget crisis and turmoil at City Hall, that document, and the promise that it holds to preserve architecture and enhance public awareness and education of the district’s historic resources, has been sitting on a shelf at the City with no action taken.
Neighborhood residents are seeking to change that. They have been pushing the Council Office, the Planning Department, and the City Attorney to take action, as well as offering efficient, inexpensive, and creative solutions to help the cash-strapped city with the HPOZ’s implementation. Ideas include temporarily linking the new Jefferson Park HPOZ to an existing HPOZ close by until times are better, and hiring consultants with existing neighborhood funds to help city staff with administration.
Council District 10 staff have been responsive to recent requests for action. With this support, neighborhood leaders are hopeful to have at least some official historic district recognition and protections, if not full HPOZ status, by this summer.
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