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Protect Your Neighborhood … Know Your A to Z’s

GET SMART-Homeowners and renters are faced with an alphabet soup of acronyms and unfamiliar names that apply to development and land use issues. Understanding some of the key ones may help you preserve and protect your neighborhood as our city moves through massive change and development that impact all of us. We need to know some avenues of defense against unwanted changes that may drastically alter our neighborhoods. 

It’s important, as homeowners and renters that we join the conversation about development. Being informed participants can help make a difference in your community. 

Did you know that some structures may qualify to receive protection as historic-cultural monuments, protecting them from being torn down or altered? 

Did you know there is a growing movement to create protections (HPOZs) to certify neighborhoods as zones that will be protected against radical changes in character? There are trade-offs and consequences to this kind of designation that need to be understood. 

Did you know that City Council can issue Emergency Legislation that can put the brakes on projects in order to buy breathing room? 

Did you know that there is a mapping system that can show you where the rent-controlled buildings are in the city? 

Answers to these questions and more are available to everyone and no longer just the expertise of planning professionals. There are organizations and programs that can help you participate in the dialogue about land use and development…and not be just a listener. 

Becoming part of the conversation about land use issues in your own neighborhood is a way to find out what’s happening in your own back yard. What follows is an introduction to some of the programs known by their acronyms, along with their links, that will help you learn some of the basics. 

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HOA and RA

Many neighborhoods have organized themselves into special interest groups serving the needs and interests of their members. Home Owner Associations (HOA’s) and Residential Associations (RA’s) are groups of homeowners and/or residents that provide a good place for you to air issues in your immediate community and try to form a consensus for action and finding solutions. City Hall and city services listen to these groups. Often, the Council office for your district will be eager to know what’s happening in the neighborhood. Ask them to send the field deputy to your meetings. 

HCM

Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) status for buildings -- creating a landmark -- is another form of protection against changing or removing them. This status is recommended by the Office of Historic Resources’ Cultural Heritage Commission, and subject to approval by the City Council. 

HPOZ

The purpose of a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) is to protect neighborhoods with a concentration of well-preserved houses from a specific time period. The first HPOZ was created in Angeleno Heights in 1983. There are now 28 HPOZ’s, and an additional 11 new areas are under consideration. LA's Office of Historic Preservation is the agency that processes HPOZ requests.

ICO

An Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) is meant to provide immediate relief. Most recently, they have been applied to prohibiting demolitions and substantial alterations of homes in five proposed Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs), and to limit the scale of new construction in 15 additional neighborhoods. Requires action by the City Council. Contact your City Council member. 

NC

Neighborhood Councils (NC’s) have been certified by the City in 95 communities as a way to connect them with City Hall. They were created about a dozen years ago against the backdrop of threatened succession by the San Fernando Valley, and later San Pedro, when those communities felt they were not getting enough attention from City Hall. Although advisory only, NC’s do have useful functions of connecting communities with the city on issues such as land use, transportation and parking, and public safety. You can find your NC and more information about how NCs operate 

NIMBY

Not in my backyard (NIMBY) is a sentiment expressed by those that do not want development or change near where they live. The term has become pejorative. Your best approach to offset a negative connotation is to balance opposition with something positive to offer. 

OHR

The Office of Historic Resources (OHR) in the Department of City Planning coordinates the City of Los Angeles’ historic preservation activities. 

The designation of individual landmarks (Historic-Cultural Monuments) and the administration of Los Angeles’ historic districts (Historic Preservation Overlay Zones) are administered by this office. 

RSO

The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) regulates pre‐1978 multifamily properties, by protecting tenants from excessive rent increases, while at the same time allowing landlords a reasonable return on their investments. 

This legislation covers four broad categories: allowable rent increases; registration of rental units; legal reasons for eviction; causes for eviction requiring relocation assistance payment to the tenant. 

ZIMAS

The Zoning Information and Map Access System (ZIMAS) is an online tool that will help you find out whether a particular property in the City of Los Angeles has a historic designation or has been previously identified as eligible for historic designation. A critical resource to use in HPOZ creation, and useful to learn many other details about specific properties. Look yourself up!  

Our city is the envy and the destination of many worldwide – people who see Southern California as one of the most desirable places on earth to live. And they will never stop moving here! 

The act of balancing an increasing population with the desire to maintain the character of our city will be continue to be a struggle. Meeting the realities and demands of change, as well as preserving what we love about Los Angeles, is a challenge. The more you know about all that the development professionals know, the better you will become at advocating for your community. 

Know your acronyms from A to Z…then join the conversation.

 

(Tim Deegan is a long-time resident and community leader in the Miracle Mile, who has served as board chair at the Mid City West Community Council and on the board of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Tim can be reached at timdeegan2015@gmail.com.) Edited for CityWatchby Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 77

Pub: Sep 22, 2015