All the Windsor Square residents who spoke at the City Planning Department’s public hearing this week on the revised preservation plan for the Windsor Square HPOZ urged department staff to move forward with with the plan. In short, the new plan is an improved version of the current plan, which was last revised in 2007. No changes are being made to the HPOZ boundaries or any part of the historic survey of the neighborhood’s homes.
John Welborne, publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle, who spoke at the meeting as the Vice President of the Windsor Square Association’s Planning and Land Use Committee, led off the public comments saying he was supportive of the good work of the staff, and of the plan’s adoption.
Amy Forbes, a resident of Irving Blvd, said she supports the plan, but urged that it be amended to specifically include the preservation of the area’s historic concrete streets, which are mentioned in the plan as part of the historic streetscape of Windsor Square.
Priscilla Wright, also a resident of Irving Blvd., and who also has been involved in the HPOZ since its creation and currently serves as chair of the Windsor Square HPOZ review board, thanked the staff for the long overdue update. “It’s clear and consistent, it addresses the issues that have been raised by homeowners, our board and staff as we have worked to implement this plan since 2007,” said Wright. “It’s long overdue and I’m very grateful that it’s happening now.”
The final speaker was Caroline Labiner, also a resident of Irving Blvd, President of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and chair of the GWNC’s Land Use Committee. Labiner said she served on another HPOZ and is pleased to see the new plan, noting that it is much improved.
The Draft Preservation Plan
Before the public hearing, Kimberly Henry, who served as the lead planner for Windsor Square’s HPOZ, presented an overview of all the updates proposed for the current preservation plan, which she called “the guiding document for the Windsor Square HPOZ.” A draft of the document can be found on the Planning Department website.
Henry explained that some of the changes are being made in response to requests from homeowners. There are also language updates, to bring the plan more in line with the City’s ordinance covering HPOZs, which was passed after the adoption of the current Windsor Square Plan. The new plan also adopts best practices featured in newer HPOZs, and lessons learned over the years working with the current plan — such as adding more design guidelines and incorporating sustainability components into the planning process.
Henry said the new plan offers more detailed design guidelines for homeowners planning renovations, to make sure they are designing projects that are compatible with the HPOZ, as well as with the existing property. For example, she said, one new guideline is that size, scale and proportions of historic doors on a facade should be maintained. The intent to maintain the original historic doors…but if a change is needed, new doors would be designed in a compatible manner, so any alterations will maintain the historic character and defining features of the home.
The new plan also departs from the use of “Façade and Visible Area” as defined for each property in the HPOZ. Instead, the updated plan refers to “Street Visible Area,” as defined in LAMC Section 12.20.3. In addition, the new plan provides a clearer definition of items subject to review, which has been a source of contention in the past. The new plan specifically includes all parts of a property visible from any adjacent public right-of-way, including parts that are currently not visible due to obstruction by landscaping, fencing, or freestanding walls.
The new plan also includes a section that provides guidelines for homeowners considering landscape and hardscape changes in front yards and the public right-away, including fences, walls and hedges. The intent is to create a review process that manages change in these areas of the home that are consistent with Windsor Square’s historic character, and which recognize the importance of preserving the character-defining setting of the entire neighborhood.
In addition, the plan includes guidelines for non-contributing structures, providing guidelines that help homeowners considering alteration. The intent is to provide more assistance to homeowners who would like to improve the historic compatibility of a non-contributing home.
Finally, the new plan streamlines project reviews for routine maintenance and repairs.
The next step in the new plan’s approval process is review and recommendation by the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC), which is tentatively scheduled to review the plan on June 20. The hearing is open to the public. Following that hearing, the plan will go to the City Planning Commission meeting on July 11 for final approval and adoption.
Residents who wish to make comments can on the new Windsor Square HPOZ Preservation Plan can do so by e-mailing Kimberly Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Max Loder at email@example.com More information is also available at preservation.lacity.org/hpoz/la/windsor-square.