How Planning is Preserving Los Angeles' History

Los Angeles is coming of age, and with many cultures inhabiting many waves of development over the course of its settlement, the city's history is deep and rich. Recent articles detail multiple planning efforts aimed at preserving the city's history.

2 minute read

May 16, 2014, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Los Angeles Little Tokyo

Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock

"Los Angeles…is constantly changing, constantly reinventing itself. But there’s an effort under way now to document its history, its neighborhoods, its buildings, its people, its cultural heritage, all that goes into making city what it is," reports Jeffrey Brown.

Brown's report details the development and application of the Arches database, developed by the Getty Conservation Institute to help catalogue the ancient treasures at risk due to the war in Iraq. "In fact, [Los Angeles] has become the largest test case for the new computer program in a project called Survey L.A."

"Iconic symbols are included, of course, the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame, the Capitol Records Building, historic movie theaters. But there are also many lesser-known places."

Ken Bernstein, who heads the city’s Historic Resources Department explains why the effort is so important: "Los Angeles always has significant development pressures, and there is heritage at risk as a result. And so we want to be able to use this survey information to make better planning decisions."

In related news, Bernstein's department also recently requested funds to support the creation of new Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) in the city. The Los Angeles Times recently published an editorial in support of the budget request. Their case includes an overview of the preservation mechanisms currently in place in the city: "There are currently 30 Historic Preservation Overlay Zones in the city covering a variety of neighborhoods and 25,000 properties. Another 15 neighborhoods are in the process of applying for this designation, but their applications are stalled. The city Planning Department, lacking the staff necessary to oversee the HPOZ process, has effectively put them on hold." The funding is especially needed now that the city's real estate market is heating up again, according to the editorial.

Monday, May 12, 2014 in PBS NewsHour

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