Historical Preservation
Steps To Take After The Cultural Heritage Commission Decides to Designate the Building as a Historical Monument


What Happens If the Cultural Heritage Commission Decides to Designate the Building as a Historical Monument?
After the Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously in favor of historic monument designation, we were informed by the CHC that the designation would remain for 180 days, and that it could be renewed for an additional 180 days. During this time, the President for the CHC stated that the developer and our preservation group would have to make a "good faith" effort towards historic preservation. This could mean attempting to find buyers that would historically preserve the properties, preserving the properties himself, or finding an alternate use for the properties. It is obviously very important to meticulously document all contacts and attempts to find owners and other means to preserve the building. However, before all this can really start, the proposal still has to be approved by the Council Committee of the Arts and Humanities and City Council.

We were extremely fortunate because, as previously mentioned, our city councilman, Jack Weiss, had already given his support the previous week before the CHC approved our applications. Our applications passed by a unanimous vote. All three of our properties were designated historic monuments by the CHC. The President said that he "wanted to stop further alterations and demolition."


Council Committee of the Arts and Humanities
If passed by the CHC, the proposal is then given to the Council Committee of the Arts and Humanities, which Councilman Jack Weiss currently chairs. I've been told that this council typically approves an item if the Cultural Heritage Commission has approved it. Both the preservationists and the developer can be invited to attend this meeting.

We were invited to attend the Council Committee of the Arts and Humanities meeting. So were the developers, who made their case again. Councilman Jack Weiss, however, disagreed with the developer's arguments, saying,"We have reviewed the Commission's record. I have visited the properties myself. These are special properties. The Commission did exactly the right thing here (in designating them for inclusion in the city's list of historic monuments)."

Noting that landmark designation does not guarantee protection from demolition after the environmental review period, Council Member Weiss, added: "We must act to provide whatever preservation status we can."  Following appearances by both sides, the Committee voted unanimously to ratify the Cultural Heritage Commission's decision. 


City Council
After the designation is passed by the Council Committee of the Arts and Humanities, it is given to the City Council. In this case, we were not invited to the City Council meeting. Neither was the developer. We did, however, mail letters urging their support to each member of the City Council (
click here for City Council members). Thirteen of the members were present, voting unanimously to designate the homes as historical monuments. For us, the next step would be to try to work with the developers in finding buyers for the properties.


Options After City Council Has Approved Monument Status


Find Buyers to purchase the properties from the developer
If the developer is cooperative, you may work together in trying to find buyers. Put together packages to mail out to prospective buyers, including information similar to what you might find on houses that are for sale through realtors (description, square footage, bedrooms, baths, pictures). You can even put up a web site, such as we are doing here. On November 2003, over a year after our preservation efforts began, the developer put the three Kelton homes on the market for sale.


Universities/Media
Universities, such as UCLA, a good bet for the Kelton Houses since it's in the neighborhood, and USC, as well as others, would also be good media/exposure outlets. U.C. Santa Barbara is very involved with historic preservation/architectural matters, so they're also another good contact.


Gain City Council Member and Neighborhood Council Support
As mentioned above, the designation for historic status is 180 days. The city council can decide to extend that to another 180 days, for 360 days total. After the first 180 days, the preservation issue moves on to the city council for another vote. Here, the support of your councilman (in our case, Councilman Weiss) will be as equally crucial as before. He must get his other council members to vote to give your buildings another 180 days. It is of course important to inform as many city council members as possible of your plight and obtain their backing in preparation for their voting on the next 180-day extension. The neighborhood councils work with the city council, so it is important to keep the neighborhood council representatives informed, and try to have as many city council people as possible support your cause as possible.

http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm A list of districts and their council members in the city of Los Angeles

http://www.lacityneighborhoods.com/home.htm Click on this link, then click on a pdf file entitled Neighborhood Councils Roster. This document is their most comprehensive roster of those groups that have been certified, and those that are still in the process of organizing -- everybody. It includes contact information for the key leaders of each group, boundaries, and e-mail and Web site addresses. The list is constantly being updated so we include a notation of when changes were made to each group’s information. This roster will always appear at the bottom of the News Flash section. (64 pages.)


California Historical Landmarks / National Register of Historic Places
California Historical Landmarks http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=21387
California Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. The specific standards now in use were first applied in the designation of Landmark number 770. State historical landmarks are recommended by the State Historical Resources Commission, to the Director of California State parks for official designation. The nine-member commission is appointed by the governor and also reviews nominations for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a federal program that is maintained by the National Park Service. If a site is primarily of local interest, it may meet the criteria for the California Point of Historical Interest Program.

It must be the first, last, only, or most significant of a type in the county or local area; have the approval of the chairperson of the Board of Supervisors or the City/Town Council; be recommended by the State Historical Resources Commission; and be officially registered by the Director of California State Parks.

The procedure is as follows:
1. Obtain application and criteria from OHP.
2. Complete application according to cover letter and supplemental instructions.
3. If a plaque is requested, written permission of property owner to place the plaque on his or her property must be enclosed.
Application will be reviewed by OHP staff and placed on an agenda of the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) for action.


National Register of Historic Places http://www.nps.gov/nr/
This is a good site for general information, archives, lists, and viewing sample National Register nominations.


Awards
Contact offices, such as the Office of Historic Preservation (Department of Parks and Recreation) in Sacramento, to look for historic preservation awards.  These can only be positive in bringing attention to your preservation efforts.  I went to http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/ and found a downloadable application for the award, filled it out, and sent it in.  To my surprise, we won the award (click here for more information)!!


Litigation
The dark cloud looming overhead in all this is that after the designation expires, the developer can move ahead with plans for demolition and development. If this occurs, perhaps only a lawsuit can prevent demolition. The
LA Conservancy can provide names of lawyers who specialize in this sort of litigation. Further media attention is also useful, so you might contact The L.A. Times and The L.A. Weekly about your situation (see the Media Section). Again. Stay in contact. Keep them informed.

Tenants' Rights/Eviction
If you are renting in an apartment or duplex or triplex owned by an owner who intends on demolishing the property, the developer must give you an eviction notice. Our eviction notices were for 120 days. Additionally, we were compensated $2000 for relocation expenses. If a rental unit is occupied by two or more tenants, none of whom is a qualified tenant, then each tenant of the unit shall be paid a pro-rata share of the $2000 fee.

People 62 years of age and older, disabled, handicapped, and a person residing with and on whom is legally dependent (as determined for federal income tax purposes) one or more minor children are entitled to receive $5000.

This payment should be made within fifteen days of service of a written notice of termination. However, "the landlord may, at the landlord's sole discretion and at the landlord's cost, establish an escrow account for the tenant(s)" in lieu of this payment.

Again, as mentioned before, while this information is reliable, you must find out the information for yourself. None of this information on this web site should be construed as legal advice. Here are some helpful links:

http://directory.tenantsunion.org/california.html
http://www.hud.gov/local/ca/renting/tenantrights.cfm
http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml


Demolition
Application for Historic Monument Status
Research
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
Media
The Kelton Homes Now (September 2009)

After The Cultural Heritage Commission Decides to Designate the Building as a Historical Monument
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