BECOMING AN HPOZ

Aug16Oxford2Oxford Square is moving closer to becoming one of Los Angeles’s newest HPOZs (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone). According to the Los Angeles City Planning Department, the proposed Oxford Square HPOZ is bordered by the Windsor Village HPOZ on the north, the Country Club Park HPOZ on the east, Pico Boulevard on the south, and Plymouth Boulevard to the west, and comprises 191 parcels on both sides of Windsor Boulevard and Victoria Avenue.  

Residents have been working toward this goal for nine years, and in 2015 the City Council finally passed a motion to have the Planning Department initiate five new HPOZs, including Oxford Square. Since then, a small working group of neighbors helped draft a preservation plan, and an initial public introduction workshop was held on May 24. An Information Open House and Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, at 6 p.m. at the Queen Anne Recreation Center Gymnasium, 1240 West Blvd., north of Pico Boulevard.

“This HPOZ project has been in the works for a long time,” said Chris Elwell, key supporter and president of the Oxford Square Neighborhood Association. The association was established in 2007, one hundred years after Oxford Square was laid out as a tract. “We need it to preserve what makes our neighborhood a special place to live.”

Local residents initially hired a historic consultant who concluded that the neighborhood did, indeed, have a high proportion of architecturally-significant structures – a report bolstered by the City’s SurveyLA evaluation, released in January 2015.

Oxford Square mostly has one- to two-and-a-half story single-family residences constructed primarily between 1900 and 1920, with a smaller number of residences constructed in the 1930s (and at least one Victorian era home moved into the neighborhood in the 1920s).  Most of the homes reflect styles associated with the Arts and Crafts and Period Revival modes of architecture.  The district is characterized by the consistency of building styles and massing, landscaped parkways with mature Canary Island date palms (some dating back a century), relatively consistent lot sizes, and gently sloping lawns.

The proposed HPOZ will have additional public hearings before the City’s Cultural Heritage and Planning Commissions, and the full City Council, and therefore won’t be finalized until later in 2016. Meanwhile, the City Council also adopted an “Interim Control Ordinance” to protect Oxford Square, which means that property owners aren’t currently allowed to modify any features of the visible frontages of the houses until the new preservation rules are adopted.

If and when Oxford Square actually becomes an HPOZ, any changes homeowners wish to make to the exterior of their home are subject to review by the Planning Department and an HPOZ board – likely one combined with the current “Triplets” of Country Club Park, Windsor Village and Wilshire Park. So perhaps together these historic districts will become known as “The Quads.”

Photo by Dawn Kirkpatrick
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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