Citrus Square’s time has come! Community seeks recognition

| January 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

As regular readers of my column can attest, I have covered the history and the travails of Citrus Square many times. For neighborhood preservationists, it is “the one that got away,” despite being a stunning and concentrated example of planned development, significant architecture and shaded allées of mature foliage. Its tightly packed duplexes, jewel box bungalows and cottages are the gateway to our broader residential oasis in the middle of the city. So it is my fortunate duty to announce that Citrus Square also is soon be a bona fide National Register Historic District!

But why now? “The best time would have been 20 years ago,” said preservationist James Dastoli, referencing the big push of 2005-2011 that saw the creation of five nearby City of Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs). “People are always ambivalent about potential restrictions until there are consequences.” The demolition of homes and construction of larger, modern “McMansions,” plus the recent proposal to up-zone portions of Third Street in the recent Housing Element, plus recent illegal construction and changes of use, suddenly made some sort of historic designation all the more urgent.

One of the hurdles in beginning the organization and outreach required for the effort was the lack of homeowner or neighborhood associations found in other parts of Greater Wilshire. In Citrus Square (Highland to La Brea; and Third to Beverly), it has been local neighborhood council representatives who have helped in the organizing effort. “Citrus Square can be somewhat of a black hole of engagement,” commented Jeffry Carpenter, Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) Area 2 representative for Citrus Square. Carpenter and Jesseca Harvey, GWNC Area 8 representative for the Melrose Neighborhood (Highland and Wilcox to La Brea; and Beverly to Willoughby), have joined Dastoli and neighbors Patricia Carroll and Patty Lombard, who have assisted in sponsoring previous historic designations.

Feb. 13 webinar
The team plans to hold an online webinar on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. with guest Ken Bernstein of the Los Angeles City Planning Department’s Office of Historic Resources. Bernstein will explain to interested home and property owners, residents and renters, what the National Register process is, what a designation would mean and how this type of historic district differs from an HPOZ. The proposed district lies between Rosewood Avenue to the north and Third Street to the south, with its western and eastern boundaries Sycamore Avenue and Citrus Avenue — an area that encompasses more than 600 buildings.

The webinar is a vital piece of the outreach component of the effort to designate Citrus Square. But the team will also be required to provide the State Office of Historic Preservation with a list of individual property owner contacts, which the State Office will use to send letters asking for any objections to the designation. This is a challenging task because many properties are owned by trusts and limited liability companies.

The overall process to designate a National Register Historic District is less stringent than the HPOZ approval process, however. An HPOZ requires majority buy-in from property owners, and there needs to be drafted a comprehensive preservation plan and an implementing ordinance. By contrast, objections to a National Register Historic District designation are dealt with by the California State Historic Resources Commission. Dastoli says that some of the strongest supporters of this and other efforts with which he has been engaged are renter residents, particularly those in rent-stabilized units. These supporters are also strongly encouraged to join the Zoom webinar and to write or call into the subsequent commission hearing.

If all goes well, and if James Dastoli’s track record is any guide, nomination will sail through its designation process with flying colors, and Citrus Square will take its rightful place alongside its neighboring HPOZs and historic districts. Tune in to the Zoom on Feb. 13 and show your support.

To learn more and to participate in the webinar, go to:

Citrus Square’s time has come!

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Category: Real Estate

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