The short-staffed Los Angeles Department of City Planning faces such a backlog of proposed historic residential zones that some communities will wait years for a chance to qualify for the program, which helps preserve historic neighborhoods and offers considerable property tax reductions.
The city’s planning department oversees 24 Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, or HPOZs, whose residents have agreed to preserve their home’s historic charm. Since 1998, the program has tripled; the latest HPOZ, Wilshire Park, was adopted in November 2008. Homeowners in historic zones can benefit from property tax cuts of up to 80 percent, according to Ken Bernstein, manager of the Office of Historic Resources within the planning department.
With California’s $42 billion budget crisis, however, the department’s staff has shrunk by 80 people, leaving fewer people to manage existing historic zones and conduct preliminary surveys of a proposed HPOZ.