Westwood residents got a lesson in historic preservation from the Los Angeles Conservancy and a local property owners association in a meeting Thursday night.
With actress and historic preservationist Diane Keaton in attendance, the Westwood Holmby Property Owners Association (HWPOA) hosted a presentation by the Los Angeles Conservancy and a Q&A session for attendees. Residents of the neighborhood bounded by Wilshire, Sunset, Hilgard and the Los Angeles Country Club were encouraged to vote for or against designating their neighborhood a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.
"We have the original stuff in Westwood and if we're going to revive Westwood, that historic character has to remain in Westwood," Reuben said in an interview with Westwood-Century City Patch. "We don't just have buildings here and there. We really have a high concentration of historic buildings. We have a wonderful little jewel here that needs to be preserved."
Currently, about 30 percent of the neighborhood's 1100 households have cast a vote and 80 percent of them are in favor of an HPOZ, said Susan Reuben, vice president of HWPOA and chair of the history and architecture committee. Once they hear from more residents, the HWPOA will take their ballots and accompanying petition to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz. A public meeting on the HPOZ would be the next step.
If the neighborhood becomes an HPOZ, the Holmby Westwood neighborhood will have a considerable amount of control maintaining its historic character. A five-member board of qualified residents would review requests for any changes that would alter the exterior of the homes, and make recommendations based on a preservation plan to the Los Angeles Planning Department.
"Preservation is not against change, and that's an important stereotype we have to fight," said Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy. "It's how you manage it."
Currently, the neighborhood has some old protections against what some residents say is inappropriate development. A small number of individual properties have covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R's) that can restrict some changes. The HWPOA is advocating for the HPOZ because it would cover the whole neighborhood.
Residents who attended the meeting expressed the desire for historic preservation measures in other residential neighborhoods, including south of Wilshire Boulevard. Many expressed frustration at the number of vacancies in the village.
"Residential neighborhoods in Westwood are part and parcel with the village," Reuben said. "We need to get our village back and so if all of you starting talking about this with people you know, raising awareness so that the community can come together, that would be absolutely wonderful."
HWPOA held community and block meetings over the summer and fall last year. According to the group's website, information on HPOZs was mailed and emailed to residents prior to the meetings. For more information from HWPOA about the process, click here.