Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Los Angeles citywide survey
Many people don't associate Los Angeles with historic preservation, but in many ways Los Angeles is really taking big steps to create effective preservation programs. They have an active preservation department, a preservation plan including mechanisms called Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (basically an enhanced historic district, each of which has its own citizen-organized neighborhood committee) and they are performing an extensive city-wide survey to document architectural resources in the city built as recently as 1980. Part of the purpose of the survey is to inform planning decisions: if historic resoures are already surveyed, the development process can be simplified because they don't have to take that step. All too often, the preferred method of "simplification" is to just knock it down...
The article from the LA Times:
The city's Office of Historic Resources page describing the survey project
Another LA organization I am growing very impressed with is the Los Angeles Conservancy. They are a very slick, very professional nonprofit organization whose website includes lots of great tools. They actively encourage citizens to become directly involved in research and nomination of properties, promote tours and cultural events, and have lots of neat educational and informational tools for the public.
Los Angeles Conservancy website
Los Angeles is kind of a different ballgame than Sacramento, but it is pretty impressive to see what they have done, and what could be done here in Sacramento. Considering that the city's preservation department consists of two people, and our own local preservation organizations are comparatively small, we have a way to go, although we can use Los Angeles' experience as a model for ways to promote local history, educate community and city staff and representatives.
Los Angeles is also doing other interesting things: they are spending six times the sales-tax amount per capita what we are (1 cent of each sales tax dollar, vs. 1/6 cent) on improved public transit, including rebuilding their interurban and streetcar network.