Rules of Thumb for a Successful Project

  • First and foremost, contact our Planner, Bradley Furuya @ bradley.furuya@lacity.org before you start work. Do not undertake work without permits and approval. Don't rely on advice from neighbors or residents of other HPOZs. Projects can be very nuanced, California Law may affect certain projects, Preservation Plans vary and are unique to each HPOZ, and the contributor status of your home makes a difference.

  • HPOZs cannot force you to do anything, but they can prevent you from making changes without approval. If you have an alteration that precedes 11/05/2008, you will not be forced to restore that modification, but you are required to get approval for any new work that is street-visible. If you make changes without approval, you may be subject to fines from the City and receive orders from LADBS to remove your new work and restore the old work. Changing windows, adding fences/gates, installing security bars and other projects that may seem minor are common violations, and can trigger fines and orders-to-comply requiring the work to be reversed.

  • If you can see it from the public right-of-way, you need approval, even if LADBS does not require a permit. This includes landscaping, paint, etc. Even if you are certain that your project is not street-visible, always contact our Planner to be sure that your project is exempt from HPOZ approval. The new ordinance changes can make a lot of projects as easy as an email exchange, including small additions. "Street-visible" includes all facades, including side facades, that are visible from any part of the public right-of-way, not just the front of the structure. Corner lots can be street-visible from many angles, and may be subject to additional restrictions. Corner lot side yards have different requirements that front setbacks, especially for fencing, but approval is still necessary.

  • Maintenance, repair and restoration are encouraged and approved directly by Planning with a simple email exchange. Contact our Planner, Bradley Furuya, at bradley.furuya@lacity.org before you start.

  • EXPECT DELAYS. Because the HPOZ program has been so successful and popular, Planning has been tasked with servicing many new HPOZs and thousands of properties over the last two or three years, and have had not been adequately staffed since the crash. Your house is nearly 100 years old - a week or two is a small price to pay for preserving the integrity of your home, which can never be replaced. Get your project approved before scheduling your contractors or craftsmen. Our Planners work very hard for us - be nice!

  • Garages are covered by the HPOZ approval process. Do not demolish, modify or rebuild a garage without approval.

  • HPOZs have no authority over interior modifications. Unless your project causes modifications to the exterior, such as removing/resizing windows to accommodate a remodel, you do not need HPOZ approval. The required permits per Los Angeles Municipal Codes are still required.

  • Presenting your Project to the Board:

    • Have eight copies of your presentation: one for our Planner, and one for each of the seven Board members.

    • Make sure your Presentation materials are complete per Bradley Furuya's instructions. Photos, context information, samples and details are very helpful in conveying your intentions.

    • Board members are not allowed to discuss projects outside the Board meetings, per the Brown Act. The Brown Act was adopted in 1953 and guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, including the HPOZ Board. Any Board member who has had a substantive conversation, about your project specifically, with you or anyone else, should recuse themselves. Seeking one-on-one advice from Board members outside the legally posted agenda should be limited to process/contact questions only, per generally accepted ethics considerations and the Brown Act.

    • Any Board member who lives adjacent to you must recuse themselves. Reasons for Recusing a Board member are complex. If you have any concerns, consult Bradley.

  • The hardest part - residents are the eyes and ears of HPOZ enforcement. Nobody wants to be THAT neighbor, but this is for our mutual benefit. We have all agreed to the zoning restrictions by being Los Angeles property owners, and therefore subject to zoning laws, which include HPOZ restrictions.

    • If you see what you feel is a violation, check the Property Activity Report, look under "Permit Information Found" to see if there is an active permit, then look under "Code Enforcement" to see if the violation has already been reported. If there is no permit and the violation has not been reported, contact our Planner at bradley.furuya@lacity.org to see if he has given administrative approval. If not, turn in a code violation.

    • If the inspector finds no violation, the homeowner will not be fined, but if there is a violation, the violator will be fined and required to appear at the HPOZ Board Meeting. Based on the HPOZ Ordinance, the Preservation Plan and/or the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, the Board can retroactively approve a project that is deemed compatible as constructed, or recommend that the home be returned to its original state if it violates rules for compatibility. Failure to abide by the Board's decision can result in continuing fines.

    • The Board cannot approve anything that is not Los Angeles Municipal Code compliant. For example, the Board cannot approve a fence that does not meet LAMC rules for height. Homeowners can file for a variance, which can incur significant costs.

    • If you know the person, tell them as early as possible and refer them to Planning before reporting a violation. This is actually a favor, and will save them money in fines and the expense of reversing incompatible work, and preserve the historic fabric of our neighborhood for us and for the future residents of Wilshire Park. More often than not when the homeowner is informed that he should get approval, it is a matter of not understanding the process. Most residents are cooperative, and the problem will be solved with a couple of phone calls and maybe an appearance at the HPOZ Board without incurring any violation or fines.

    • Do not harass uncooperative violators. If the homeowner is resistant, simply turn in the violation and let LADBS and Planning take over. If you are uncomfortable turning in a violation, email the HPOZ Board Member for Wilshire Park robby.odonnell@gmail.com, and include as much information as possible, including any photos you can take without upsetting your neighbor.