Discussion of Possible HPOZ at Sycamore Square Annual Meeting

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The 800 block of S. Orange Drive in Sycamore Square

The Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association held its annual meeting and board elections on Sunday, November 13, with questions about a possible Historic Preservation Overlay Zone for the neighborhood (the area between Wilshire, Citrus, Olympic and La Brea) taking center stage at the gathering.

SSNA board member Elizabeth Fuller introduced the preservation discussion with an invitation for neighbors and others interested in learning more about the neighborhood’s history to join her for a free 1-hour, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” walking tour of Sycamore Square on an upcoming Sunday (most likely either November 20 or 27, depending on participant preference).  Fuller said people who live in Sycamore Square often ask why it should be considered historic, and not just an average, “nothing special” neighborhood…and said she would like to help explain, via the tour, its historic context and significance.  The tour will be an easy one-hour walk, is free of charge, and is open to the public (not just Sycamore Square residents).  Anyone interested in attending is invited to contact Fuller at info@sycamoresquare.org.

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Photo by Conrad Starr.

For a more in-depth discussion of the possible HPOZ, which the SSNA board voted in 2015 to pursue, the meeting featured brief presentations by Ken Bernstein, from the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, Katie Horak, from Architectural Resources Group (a consultancy specializing in neighborhood historic surveys) and Robby O’Donnell, who helped institute the Wilshire Park HPOZ and now sits on the combined HPOZ board for the Wilshire Park, Windsor Village and Country Club Park HPOZs.  The three guest speakers provided basic information about what HPOZs are and how they work, what the required historic resources survey is, what it costs and why it’s necessary…and what living in an HPOZ is like (permitting issues, effects on property values, etc.).

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Katie Horak, Architectural Resources Group, answering questions about an historic resources survey for the Sycamore Square neighborhood. Photo by Conrad Starr.

The three speakers also answered neighbors’ questions regarding things like solar panels (yes, they are allowed in an HPOZ), landscaping rules (specifics depend on the details of the neighborhood’s Preservation Plan, and usually specify some minimum percentage of vegetation…but drought-tolerant plants are definitely allowed), the process to institute an HPOZ (75 % of property owners sign a petition in favor of the HPOZ, renters can also have an important voice through petition signatures, and the local City Council Member must make a motion, based on the neighborhood show of support, that the City Council institute the HPOZ).  Other questions involved costs and procedures for permitting new work on homes under the HPOZ (including the various levels of review needed for different kinds of projects), whether additions and second stories would be allowed (yes, depending on the size, visibility and compatibility of the addition), who the HPOZ board members are, and whether or not an HPOZ forces people to do specific kinds of work (no) or makes people undo work done before the HPOZ was instituted (also no).

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Photo by Conrad Starr.

Fuller noted that this meeting was only one of many educational and outreach efforts that the SSNA will conduct in the coming months, to make sure all residents know about the HPOZ effort, have a chance to learn as much as possible about it, and get answers to any and all questions they might have.

In other business at the meeting, the SSNA board held elections for four of its seven board member positions.  Incumbent board members Conrad Starr, Joshua Kirchmer and Elizabeth Fuller were re-elected to new two-year terms, and one board seat went unfilled at the election (it can be filled later by the board, according to the association’s bylaws).  The elections were followed by a chili cook-off and a raffle featuring prizes donated by local businesses including Apollonia’s Pizzeria (which also donated food for the event), Pata Salata, Rascal, Mo’ Better Burgers, Milk Jar Cookies, Muse Cafe, Starbucks, A+ Math Tutoring, Pet Joy pet grooming, Doggie Goddess pet services, Urban Florist, Lassen’s, Runway Boutique, Function 5 Fitness, Trejo’s Tacos, La Brea Bakery, and more.

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Young James Theiss helps SSNA board member Joshua Kirchmer pick winning raffle tickets. Photo by Conrad Starr.
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Happy raffle winner Vicky Jenkins. Photo by Conrad Starr.
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Steve Senigram – another happy winner. Photo by Conrad Starr.

 

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