Zoning Rules to Preserve Historical Buildings Urged

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale Historical Society has proposed planning and zoning regulations that would preserve historically significant buildings and neighborhoods.

A report prepared by the society identifies more than 40 structures and neighborhoods that it deems worthy of preservation because they characterize Glendale's heritage.

Buildings May Be Jeopardized

The report, presented to the Planning Commission last week, found that many historically significant buildings may be jeopardized by a comprehensive zoning ordinance.

City planners in December opened hearings on the proposed ordinance that would make zoning laws conform with the city's general plan, as required by state law.

The society is recommending that new zoning laws be adopted to preserve such characteristics as pre-World War II bungalow courts and duplexes and tree-lined streets.

It also asks that the city initiate measures, including public acquisition, to protect such historically significant sites as the Teodoro Verdugo Adobe at 2211 Bonita Drive, a family home of the city's first settlers, and the Taylor House at 1027 Glenwood Ave., built in 1873 and believed to be the city's oldest remaining farmhouse.

Because the city has no provisions to preserve historic structures, one building the society considered valuable--the 70-year-old Egyptian Village Cafe--was torn down last year to make way for a downtown redevelopment project. Steve Preston, chairman of a society committee that is surveying areas of the city, said that if the society's proposed regulations had been in effect, the Egyptian would have been saved.

Preston said the cafe in a Brand Boulevard building "was a unique resource in the region" because of its pseudo-Egyptian architecture, some of which was hidden over the years by modern paneling. After a public outcry over demolition, parts of the cafe were disassembled and preserved by the developer, American Trading Real Estate Co., for reconstruction at a still-to-be determined site.

Time Donated

Members of the society, a private, nonprofit organization, donated more than 100 hours to analyzing planning changes and their potential effects on historic sites and neighborhoods, Preston said.

Using $14,100 in federal funds awarded through the state 16 months ago, another survey has identified historical sites in the southern half of the original Glendale township. Preston said the society is seeking city funds to enable the group to study the northern half, between Wilson Avenue and the Ventura Freeway, Verdugo Road and Brand Boulevard.

The report proposes a series of measures to save other historically significant buildings, including establishment of a cultural heritage commission to designate significant structures and to review demolition permits.

Preston said a series of sites in south Glendale has been marked for preservation in the society's nearly completed survey.

The city Planning Department in 1977 conducted a similar, less comprehensive survey of historical sites. Although that study, adopted as an element of the general plan, recommended that a number of sites be preserved, including the Egyptian Village Cafe, the city has not moved to acquire significant structures or to protect them by zoning changes or other regulations.

Preston said results of the society's detailed survey will be presented to the city in about two months.

The historical society has warned that zoning changes may endanger some areas that should be preserved, such as older residential structures in a nine-block area of the downtown east of Central Avenue marked for high-rise residential development. It asked that the new zoning proposed for that area be scaled down, even though the higher density would be allowed under the general plan, to protect the neighborhood.

The society also warned that provisions of the proposed ordinance limiting color schemes for new construction to muted earth tones or white "may actually discriminate against" certain architectural styles that traditionally use variant tones of blue or brown, such as Queen Anne and Eastlake design.

'Historic Property'

Although the zoning-law changes would affect property only when buildings are to be replaced or remodeled, members of the city Planning Commission this week agreed that such restrictions may be too stringent.

The society is seeking a "historic property" classification in the zoning laws that would require city review before such property could be demolished. Preston said the old Taylor farmhouse, for example, is in imminent danger of destruction for new development.

Other sites that could be preserved under such a classification are the Masonic Temple at 232-236 S. Brand Blvd., Kiefer and Eyerick Mortuary at 314 E. Harvard St., Municipal Power and Light at 145 N. Howard St., the YMCA at 140 N. Louise St. and the E. D. Goode house at 119 N. Cedar St., which potentially is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The society also asked that neighborhoods of well-kept bungalow courts be preserved because they represent "the classic adaptive architecture of pre-war Southern California." It said some neighborhoods zoned for high-density apartment buildings "were unnecessarily subject to the ills of over-intense development." That resulted in streets being widened, which led to the destruction of yards, setbacks, street trees and decorative street lighting.

The report found that some sites, such as the Post Office at 313 E. Broadway, built in 1934 and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, is "endangered by insensitive zoning policies" that would place it in a commercial zone and could encourage its demolition for new development.

Preston said the society's recommendations could enable the city to obtain federal and state funds for preservation projects.

The recommendations will be considered by the City Council when it begins public hearings on the proposed zoning ordinance, probably in mid-February. The Planning Commission has conducted six hearings on the issue. The seventh will be at 3 p.m. Monday in the public service building, 633 E. Broadway, Room 105.

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