Why a Citywide Survey?

SurveyLA, the groundbreaking citywide historic resources survey, serves as the primary planning tool to identify, record, and evaluate historic properties and districts within Los Angeles and forms the foundation for a comprehensive and proactive municipal historic preservation program. Survey data provides baseline information on potential historic resources to inform planning decisions and support City policy goals. Uses of survey data include the following:

  • Community Plan Updates: The Department of City Planning has initiated new Community Plans that provide communities with more specific, detailed guidance on potential land uses. Critical to the success of these plans is an inventory of historic resources to ensure that proposed changes to these communities carefully consider potential impacts to historic resources. Planners can overlay maps of historic resources onto maps indicating the areas of greatest proposed changes in land use.
  • Zoning Decisions and Plan Approval: It is critical that all staff with responsibilities for reviewing individual projects and development proposals have access to accurate information on historic properties.
  • Environmental Review: The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires local governments to analyze the impacts of proposed projects on historic resources. The survey data provides a more objective, comprehensive basis for the City of Los Angeles’ conduct of environmental reviews as they affect potential historic resources.
  • Cultural Tourism: One of the fastest growing segments of the tourist market is in travelers who seek out culturally significant experiences in major cities. The survey enables a variety of users, including cultural organizations, and potential visitors to the city, to conduct their own searches for architecturally and culturally significant resources that may interest them.
  • Disaster Response: After a major disaster, such as the 1994 Northridge earthquake, thousands of buildings and structures may be “red-tagged” or “yellow-tagged” due to unsafe conditions. When these assessments are made, it is imperative that the Department of Building and Safety’s inspectors have ready access to detailed, accurate information on the locations and significance of historic properties, so that demolitions do not occur without appropriate review or consideration.
  • Film Locations: The film industry is an important economic resource for Los Angeles. Location scouts are constantly seeking new and interesting places and buildings that can be used as settings for films, commercials and television. The survey data enables scouts to complete research online for particular property types by construction date, architectural style, location and other criteria.
  • Potential Designation: The survey identifies potential historic districts and individual properties eligible for designation under the City’s Historic Preservation Overlay Zone and Cultural Heritage Commission ordinances as well for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. Designation enables property owners to take advantage of financial incentive programs which may include the City’s Mills Act program, Conservation Easements, and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits (for income producing properties). Identification in a survey does not mean that a property or a neighborhood will automatically become a designated landmark or historic district; it merely provides information that would support such designation, if desired, at a later date. Designation requires public hearings and property owner notification.