With 88 properties now designated as historic resources and with six designated historic districts and thematic groupings, the City of West Hollywood exhibits a fine record in historic preservation. Following are observations/suggestions regarding future possible efforts as they relate to the four key elements described in the staff report.
The city plans to continue requiring project-level analyses or Historic Resource Assessments (HRAs) for any demolition requests. This is basically now an internal process, which could benefit from review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
The staff report notes that there are no upcoming comprehensive cultural resource survey efforts on the 2019 work program. During the past year, effort was made to support a much-needed comprehensive survey of properties in the R1 zones, but ultimately it was not funded by the City Council. During the next year, the HPC and city staff may want to reintroduce this survey possibility, which will certainly engender support from the preservation community.
It is good to see that in 2019, CHPP staff and Chattel, Inc. will prepare recommendations for updates and modifications to the existing preservation ordinance in order to bring it into conformance with industry best practices and ensure that it is clear in its form and intent. Looking at the City of Santa Monica’s ordinance would be one suggestion. It is noteworthy that Santa Monica requires that the expertise of its Landmarks Commission (comparable to WeHo’s Historic Preservation Commission) is brought into any development review process when a property is 40 (forty) or more years old. Such is not the case in West Hollywood currently, and should be considered for the future.
Furthermore, the 2008 survey of R2/R3/R4 zones identified pre-1920 properties considered eligible for local cultural resource designation. As the years have progressed, some of these properties have faced development/demolition pressures. In the past, the HPC and the preservation community have encouraged the city to proactively bring these properties forward as a group for designation, and its’s hoped that such an effort can made in the future.
The more recent 2016 survey of commercial buildings identified nearly 60 properties potentially eligible for historic designation. The city held a meeting for owners of such buildings in December 2017, and the preservation community was told that the city would consider submitting applications for cultural resource status for those buildings whose owners were in favor of designation. It would be interesting for the HPC and the preservation community to receive a report on the status of that meeting and any progress in this particular area.
With the City Council having adopted in 2018 a new program of incentives aimed at owners of multifamily residential apartment buildings, the preservation community is particularly eager to see implementation of a Historic Apartment Preservation Program (HAPP) which would underscore the city’s commitment to preserving its cultural history while maintaining its stock of affordable housing.
With respect to the Mills Act Program, it is good to see that the city plans to bring non-conforming or partially conforming properties into compliance with their respective contracts.
Outreach and Education
The preservation community appreciates the training sessions that have been held in the past and looks forward to further learning opportunities. The City’s former annual Historic Preservation Celebrations have afforded the community an opportunity to celebrate West Hollywood’s rich history. These celebrations are appreciated whenever they are ultimately scheduled but perhaps an effort could be made to arrange for funding and to hold such an annual celebration during the month of May which is recognized nationally and by the State of California as Historic Preservation Month.