The Cultural Heritage Comission Review Process
The Cultural Heritage
Commission Review Process
After you submit the application, the Commission will contact you. They will tell you when they are holding the meeting to consider your application. They also post their agenda the Friday before the meeting date on their web site.
The Cultural Heritage Commission considers the applications sent in at their meetings, which occur Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. every two weeks at 433 South Spring Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013, near 4th Street. Some of this review process is described in further detail at http://www.culturela.org/heritage/property.htm They consider the application to determine if it is worthy of a site visit. After the site visit, they meet again to approve the site for historic monument status. After submitting your application, you will be contacted. You can go down to the meeting to give additional details. Going down to the meeting is very helpful. Try and get as many people to go as possible, and be organized in your presentation. Discuss pertinent details of your application, including especially significant architectural details, why the site is historically significant, why it's rare, why it's socially and culturally significant, and why it should be considered. Be succinct.
In particular, you will want to show that the proposed monument is "of particular historic or cultural significance to the City of Los Angeles..." (Los Angeles Administrative Code 22.130). The Code specifies three ways in which it may have particular significance: 1.) the building is a "historic" structure which exemplifies the "broad cultural, economic, or social history of the nation, State or community"; 2.) the building is "identified with historic personages or with important events" in the "main currents" of history"; or 3.) the building has particular architectural value, and "embody the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type specimen, inherently valuable for a study of a period style or method of construction, or (be) a notable work of a master builder, designer, or architect whose individual genius influenced his age."
In our case, we argued that the three buildings were particularly significant culturally and socially because Kelton Avenue was the first street built in Westwood Hills, according to Carolyn Haber of the Westwood Historical Society and another historian. We showed that development for Westwood Hills first began between Santa Monica Blvd. and Pico Blvd., where the houses are located. We demonstrated this through research. A map of Westwood Hills provided by Katy Lain, a descendant of the Janss family, helped illustrate this. We demonstrated its rarity by driving around similarly zoned areas, looking for duplexes. We were saddened to find that only a handful of the 200+ duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, etc. still existed, and that except for our street of at least six properties in a row, our resaerch indicated that no more than two such properties in a row existed in what was formerly known as Westwood Hills. There were no other strips available. That made our strip of houses the last remaining example of what Westwood was intended to be by the Janss Investment Co. We felt that this represented the cultural and social history of 1920s Westwood Hills, being especially valuable because they were still intact, still in a row.
We also made a strong case for architect Allen Siple by researching him and his work. Very helpful in this was the aid of Molly Siple, his daughter. Also helpful was the fact that an associate professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas was using slides of these homes to lecture to her classes about scale, cohesiveness, architectural detail, and Spanish/Mediterranean architecture. She, like Molly Siple, Katy Lain (Janss descendant), Celeste Hong (Art Deco Society of Los Angeles), Leslie Heumann (Johnson Heumann Research Associates), Carolyn Haber, Paul Gleye (author of "The Architecture of Los Angeles" and Department Chair at North Dakota State University), Cristi Walden (Board Member and Chair of the Tile Committee, Malibu Lagoon Museum), Barbara Broide (Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association), Beverly Kenworthy from the Council Member's office, and others submitted letters of support, showed up at the meeting, or both. It's important to get as many informed supporters as possible to lend credibility to your argument. People at organizations such as the LA Conservancy and the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles often can put you in touch with these people. There is also a wealth of information available on the internet and, of course, at the public and university libraries. We tried to leave no relevant stone unturned in our research and support.
We also cited substantial community support. We had over 200 signatures, 170 coming from within one block of where the houses are. We showed an old map of Westwood Hills, which clearly showed the area that the Janss Investment Company developed. We showed a picture of Kelton Ave. in 1922 with a billboard stating, "Now open, Westwood, Janss Investment Co." (from Gernot Kuehn's interesting "Views of Los Angeles" book).
The people on the Commission are generally quite supportive of people making a case for historic preservation. That's why they are there. They are interested in the history and the architecture of Los Angeles. They like to hear from grassroots efforts of neighbors in a community who are passionate about saving a potential historic monument.
It is of course helpful to have the neighborhood council, who advises the city council, and the district office itself (the 5th District, in our case), to be supportive of your efforts. A letter of support is helpful. A representative showing up for the meeting is even better. If they haven't made a commitment but haven't stated that they have turned you down either, you can at least mention that you have been in constant contact with them and that they know of the situation.
Application for Historic Monument Status
The Cultural Heritage Commission Review Process
Building Neighborhood Support
Arguments that a Developer May Make Against Historical Preservation
Next Steps After Properties Have Been Designated Historical Monuments
The Kelton Homes Now (September 2009)
Researching - Different
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