Friday, September 11, 2009

Update on the L.A. City Cultural Heritage Ordinance

On September 10, 2009, the L.A. City Planning Commission voted on the proposed amendments to the City's Cultural Heritage Ordinance. (This is the ordinance that guides historic landmark designations and protections in the City of Los Angeles and was first adopted in 1962.)

Below is the email from Ken Bernstein, Manager of the Office of Historic Resources in the City of Los Angeles Planning Department, regarding what actually took place, the outcomes, and the next steps in this process.


September 10, 2009

Today, the City Planning Commission voted 7-1 to approve the staff recommendation on the proposed amendments to the Cultural Heritage Ordinance.

Most of the discussion focused on the review of interior spaces in Historic-Cultural Monuments. The Commission supported the staff recommendation, which emerged from meetings of a Working Group on Interiors, to go back to the status quo on interior review. Under this proposal, all interior permits would continue to be referred to the Cultural Heritage Commission and the Office of Historic Resources for review, as has occurred since 1962. As in the current ordinance, the CHC could not deny approval of interior work altogether: it could only object to the issuance of the permit for no more than 180 days, with a possible 180-day extension of the objection period upon approval of the City Council.

We felt that this compromise lessened any potential burden on property owners, while still protecting Monuments whose significant interiors are often inseparable from the building's overall architectural significance. The new ordinance would require that exterior work, additions, or new construction be subject to a "Certificate of Appropriateness" that could be denied. The ordinance version approved today also maintains our staff recommendation to enhance protections for historic properties by giving the Cultural Heritage Commission the power to deny demolition requests for

Next, the ordinance will go to the City Attorney for review and possible refinement. The City Planning Commission also voted to request that the City Attorney and Department of City Planning staff review and refine how the Cultural Heritage Ordinance provisions will interact with requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Because these reviews may take a few months, we anticipate that the ordinance may not proceed to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee and City Council for final approval until early 2010.

Ken Bernstein

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