Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of a revival that has put to rest the stereotype that high tech office workers in suits run a gantlet of homeless street people every morning to get to work, and depart the area at top speed when work is done. Hundreds of classic office buildings have been converted to condos and rental apartments. Cranes are everywhere. New restaurants pop up weekly to serve the influx of urbanites who now make Downtown their home.
The 2600 block of Van Buren Place was established as a national historic district in 1996. A few years later it became the core of an expanded City of Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, the city's designation of a historic area. The boundaries of the Adams-Normandie HPOZ are the 10 Freeway on the north, 29th Street on the south (both sides of the street), Vermont Ave. on the east, and Normandie Ave. on the west.
Here is a link to the city's website section on the Adams-Normandie HPOZ http://www.preservation.lacity.org/hpoz/la/adams-normandie
It contains background on the Adams-Normandie area, and links to the detailed HPOZ preservation plan, the survey map of the HPOZ, the citywide HPOZ ordinance, and contact information for the city planner responsible for the HPOZ review board's agenda and work with residents on issues in historic building repair and restoration.
No less than six of the city's 29 historic districts are in West Adams. The map above shows 8, with the Windsor Village and Country Club HPOZs immediately adjacent to West Adams.
There is a seventh historic area within West Adams, North University Park, oddly just south of the University Park HPOZ. North University Park Specific Plan is bounded by Adams Boulevard on the north, Menlo Avenue on the west, Hoover Street on the east, and 30th Street on the south. It was created in 1983 as a Specific Plan, a form that predated the HPOZ designation. The city has many Specific Plans, detailed rules for certain city neighborhoods. The North University Park Specific Plan is particularly focused on historic preservation and in fact incorporates the HPOZ ordinance among its other rules, with the provision that in case of a conflict between the HPOZ ordinance and the NUP Specific Plan the Specific Plan has precedence.
Some city documents state that the NUP Specific Plan is "the functional equivalent of an HPOZ," but the formal designation has never been assigned and NUP does not appear in the city's listings of HPOZs. NUP does have its own Design Review Board for historic issues. It contains two National Register Historic Districts, North University Park National Register Historic District, bounded by Magnolia, Hoover, Adams, and 27th Street (and two properties on 28th Street). Declared in 2004. The second, the Menlo Avenue-West 29th Street National Register Historic District, overlaps the North University Park Specific Plan area. It is bounded by Adams Blvd., West 29thy Street, and Menlo Avenue. It was listed in 1987.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION OVERLAY ZONE
Provided for the benefit of the West Adams neighborhood by Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association and the Van Buren Place Historic Preservation Overlay Zone
1]Q: WHAT IS AN HISTORIC PRESERVATION OVERLAY ZONE (HPOZ)?
A: When a neighborhood and the City of Los Angeles believe that a specific area of that community is worthy of preservation, the City offers protection through the designation of an HPOZ. The area must have historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic significance. The preservation concept must be widely supported by the residents and property owners of the designated area. The purpose of the HPOZ is to protect and enhance areas representative of the City's cultural and architectural history which are unique and irreplaceable assets. The HPOZ establishes a preservation association which is governed by a voluntary five member board. At least three members must be owners or renters who live within the HPOZ area. Two members are appointed by the City. The board members shall have demonstrated knowledge and interest in the culture, historic structures and architectural features of the HPOZ area.
Los Angeles is notorious for having few ordinances that make property owners keep their property in decent condition, and the City is lax in enforcing the rules it does have. If you are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with lots of old houses--like West Adams--however, there is an organizational form that can give some power back to the community to set standards. This is the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).
The Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association is an active block club in South Los Angeles. We have members on several blocks in the area between Adams Blvd. south to 30th Street and Normandie Avenue east to Catalina Street. We maintain this website, plant trees, act as a Neighborhood Watch to keep gangs and crime at bay, and join with neighbors to have a good time. We were instrumental, with other nearby block clubs, the University of Southern California, and several nonprofits, in creating the Richardson Family Park at 27th Street and Budlong Avenue, which the community completed in 1999 and donated to the city. We assume ongoing responsibility to work with city agencies and USC to maintain the park.