Copyright 1994 The Times Mirror Company
Los Angeles Times


June 19, 1994, Sunday, Home Edition

SECTION: Westside; Part J; Page 3

LENGTH: 590 words

HEADLINE: PRESERVATION PLAN SAID TO BE 7 YEARS TOO LATE;
MIRACLE MILE SOUTH: PANEL IS TOLD THAT CULTURAL HERITAGE COMMISSION FAILED
TO MEET A 1987 DEADLINE TO SUBMIT AN ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY FOR A PROPOSED
HISTORIC ZONE.

BYLINE: By SCOTT COLLINS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES


The eight-year tug-of-war over historic preservation in the Miracle Mile
South area has taken an unexpected turn in recent weeks: One group of
bureaucrats has accused another of missing a key procedural deadline -- by
seven years.

The snag means the effort to designate the neighborhood a "historic
preservation overlay zone," or HPOZ, to protect older and architecturally
significant buildings has been delayed indefinitely.

Proponents, already wearied by the long effort to get the zone, seemed
fatalistic after learning of the setback.

"I'm sort of numb," said Denise Robb, founder of the Miracle Mile Action
Committee, a residents group. "We've been (leading the fight for an HPOZ)
for five years, so at this point we almost don't expect anything to
happen."

Designating the area as a preservation zone would force property owners
and developers to seek consent from a special city-sanctioned association
before altering or demolishing buildings, some of which date to the 1920s.

The zone, which would be the eighth such district in the city, would cover
Miracle Mile South, bounded by Detroit Street on the east, Hauser
Boulevard on the west, 3rd Street on the north and Wilshire Boulevard on
the south. (A separate zone was approved in 1990 to cover Miracle Mile
North, which is north of 3rd Street, south of Beverly Boulevard, west of
La Brea Avenue and east of Gardner Street.

Such a zone for Miracle Mile South was first proposed by Council President
John Ferraro, who represents the area, in 1986. It was referred to the
Cultural Heritage Commission, which completed an architectural survey of
the buildings in 1988 and finally endorsed the idea and forwarded it to
the Planning Department last year.

But opponents, principally landlords and developers who say the zone would
lower property values and add another layer of bureaucracy, questioned
whether the commission followed proper procedures.

According to city law, the commission has 45 days after proposing a
preservation zone to deliver an architectural survey of the neighborhood
along with an endorsement to the Planning Department. The commission did
not do so, however, until seven years after the zone was proposed and five
years after the survey was completed.

"(It) is clear that the matter was not acted upon in a timely manner by
the Cultural Heritage Commission," planning examiner Bob Rogers wrote the
commission last month in a letter recently obtained by The Times. City
planners have returned the matter to the commission.

Commission officials last week were at a loss to explain the delay in
turning over their findings to the Planning Department.

"No one was aware of any time limit," said commission spokeswoman Nancy
Fernandez. "(But) I'm sure there's some ordinance somewhere."

Regarding Rogers' assessment, she said: "It depends on what you think is a
timely manner."

Rogers also raised doubts about the 1988 survey, indicating that the
project that studied half-century-old buildings might need "an update"
now, although he did not elaborate. Rogers did not return phone calls for
comment.

"It's insane," Robb said of the possible need for a new survey. "That's
like saying we have to review the Mona Lisa to make sure it's still art."

Opponents, such as Linda Scheid, president of the Miracle Mile Apartment &
Commercial Owners Assn., said extensive redevelopment during the mid- to
late-1980s has made the preservation zone irrelevant.

"This area has already been compromised; it's been redeveloped by almost
50%," she said.