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Established by City of Los Angeles ordinance in 1979, the Angelino Heights suburb northwest of downtown Los Angeles became the first Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in 1983. And now, thanks to the efforts of Lydia Mather and her neighbors, a portion of Van Nuys has become the City’s 21st HPOZ and the San Fernando Valley´s first; the result of seven years of hard work and perseverance on the part of some very committed citizens.

The HPOZ designation is applied to any area of the City of Los Angeles containing structures, landscaping, natural features, or sites having historic, architectural, cultural, or aesthetic significance.” Within the boundaries of the HPOZ, special design controls help prevent inappropriate demolitions, exterior alterations, incompatible additions and new construction applying only to the outsides of the structures. Owners are allowed to remodel the interiors of their buildings without HPOZ Board review.

The HPOZ Board consists of five members: one architect; one person with experience in real estate or development; and at least three local residents who meet twice monthly in the neighborhood to review proposals for alterations and new construction, working with the City of Los Angeles Planning Department.

The first step in this formal designation is to conduct an Historic Resource Survey to determine the overall nature of the proposed area, in regards to the percentage of contributing structures. HPOZs range in size from less than fifty buildings (Melrose Hill) to over 2500 (Highland Park, the largest HPOZ to date). Over 400 homes were contributing structures to the VN HPOZ. The area of designation is irregular in shape, but is roughly defined by Kester Avenue on the west, Hazeltine Avenue on the east, Gilmore Street on the south and Vanowen Street on the north. It does not include any structures on Van Nuys Boulevard, nor many historical public buildings, i.e., Van Nuys High School and area churches

Architectural styles include: 1920´s Craftsman-style bungalows, Colonial Revival cottages, Spanish Colonial Revival and English Revival; the 1930´s Tudor, Norman and Mediterranean Revivals, as well as Minimal Traditional style, a simplified derivative of Colonial Revival; and the California Ranch style prevalent throughout the 1930-1950´s. At least 13 contributing structures were built between 1911 and 1919.

Prime examples are:

1913  Craftsman “Airplane Bungalow” at 14205 Hamlin Street;

1921  Craftsman at 14141 Kittridge Street;

1920  Colonial Revival Residence at 14161 Hamlin Street;

1928  Tudor Revival, 14138 Lemay Street;

1936  Norman Revival, 14643 Hamlin Street;

1930  Spanish Colonial Revival, 14231 Haynes Street;

1936  Mediterranean Revival, 14618 Hamlin Street;

1938  Minimal Traditional, 14116 Hamlin Street;

1958  Ranch Style, 14216 Haynes Street;

1940  Ranch Style, 14210 Haynes Street.

Many thanks to former City Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski for initiating this HPOZ five years ago, and to current Council representative Tony Cardenas for his strong support of preserving this important Valley neighborhood.

The Los Angeles Conservancy was instrumental in the creation of the HPOZ City Ordinance and remains an impetus for promoting, training, refining and representing that process, both to the public and to city officials.

It is assumed by many that the town of Van Nuys has little to no architectural history. The HPOZ is the first step in disproving that myth and, we hope, the beginning of continued visible proof to the contrary. We often take for granted things we grew up with and fail to see their cultural significance simply because they were “commonplace.” But time emphasizes the importance of many things, including the relevance of the built environment as an icon to the past. The HPOZ is, in fact, a small sample of the great history of Van Nuys and many more structures remain to be explored and their stories told. We hope you will join us in bringing forth that defining past and contributing to furthering its legacy for the future.



By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer, LA Daily News


A landmark Van Nuys neighborhood known for its unique homes has become the first area in the San Fernando Valley to receive protection against new development.

The Los Angeles City Council, after years of study, agreed this week to create a Historic Overlay Protection Zone for the area around the Van Nuys Civic Center.

“We’ve been trying to get this through from before I came on council,” Councilman Tony Cardenas, who took over the effort started by former Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, said Friday.

“This is a special neighborhood and it will give residents the protections they want and also preserve an area that is important to the city.”

With the designation, a board will be created to oversee renovations, tear-downs and replacements of any of the homes, which include a mixture of bungalows, Craftsman and other styles.

Residents are protective of their neighborhood and want to see it remain as it was developed nearly 80 years ago.

Cardenas said there were only a handful of residents concerned about the impact such a designation would have on their ability to sell their homes in the future.

“We know there are some people with questions and who are upset and we hope to show them they don’t have to worry about it,” said Cardenas, whose district encompasses the proposed historic zone and who used to sell real estate in Van Nuys.

Jamie Cordaro, president of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, said his group supported the designation.

“As you go through some of these neighborhoods, you begin to appreciate the care people have for the homes and it would be a shame to see these neighborhoods torn down to make room for two- and three-story mansions,” Cordaro said.

“This gives a sense of history to how the city developed and it’s important to send a message we care about our neighborhoods.”

The official designation could pave the way for similar efforts in several other areas of the Valley that have expressed interest in having similar zones, including the Balboa Highlands in Granada Hills and Stonehurst in Shadow Hills.”