Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for LAist comes from:

LA Conservancy ranks 88 cities on their preservation efforts

Photos from an LA Conservancy tour of Downtown LA's historic core.
Scott Lowe/flickr Creative Commons
Photos from an LA Conservancy tour of Downtown LA's historic core.

L.A. has a reputation for being a city that looks forward and rarely looks back, for better or worse. But a new report on L.A. cities' efforts to preserve the past has ranked them by their efforts.

The L.A. Conservancy published their 2014 report card.  Cities with an A grade included Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Glendale, among others. At the other end of the spectrum: Compton, Alhambra, L.A. County and Malibu. 

Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the L.A. Conservancy, said the grades rate how cities plan their development, not how many potentially historic structures were destroyed.

"Those are cities that, for whatever reason, haven't passed any preservation ordinance or put in place any tools that really offer protection or integrate preservation in terms of how they plan for the growth and development of their cities." 

Fine pointed to an example in Palos Verdes Estates, where a modernist home designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, was demolished, despite some local opposition. The city found there was no restrictions that would prevent it being torn down. 

"Part of the reason it wasn't saved is that the city has no measures, no tools really that would help with preservation," Fine said.

In the six years since the last report cards were handed out, Fine said there's been little progress — in part because of the recession, which sapped resources from preservation efforts. Still, he said, there have been some successes.

"Just 2, 3 years ago, Beverly Hills was ranked in the F territory, and they have gone in the completely opposite direction, passed an ordinance, put in place incentives, are doing a survey of their historic resources, have a historic cultural heritage commission in place now, and are really taking the steps to the right thing now in terms of putting preservation into practice." 

Maybe surprisingly, the conservancy has ranked the city of L.A. highly in terms of its preservation efforts. Despite its reputation, Fine said Los Angeles has many tools in place to preserve its history.

"But in terms of the private sector understanding preservation and really embracing it," he said, "that's where I think L.A. has a huge amount of room for growth and understanding."

The Conservancy has been issuing reports on the county's preservation efforts since 2003. 

Here's how L.A. cities (and the county) compared on 2014's report card: 

Grade City
A Beverly Hills, Burbank, Calabasas, Claremont, Culver City, Glendale, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Pasadena, Pomona, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, South Pasadena, West Hollywood, Whittier
B Glendora, San Dimas, San Fernando, San Gabriel
C Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bradbury, Commerce, La Verne, Rolling Hills Estates, Santa Clarita, Sierra Madre, West Covina
D Bell Gardens, Covina, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Irwindale, Maywood, South El Monte, South Gate
F Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Arcadia, Artesia, Avalon, Bell, Bellflower, Carson, Cerritos, City of Industry, Compton, Cudahy, Diamond Bar, Downey, Duarte, El Monte, Gardena, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hidden Hills, Inglewood, La Cañada Flintridge, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, La Puente, Lakewood, Lancaster, Lawndale, Lomita, Los Angeles County, Lynwood, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Montebello, Monterey Park, Norwalk, Palmdale, Palos Verdes Estates, Paramount, Pico Rivera, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rosemead, San Marino, Santa Fe Springs, Signal Hill, Temple City, Torrance, Vernon, Walnut, Westlake Village

You can see the full 2014 report below and read more on the Conservancy's website

View: LA Conservancy's 2014 preservation report card

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that the home in Palos Verdes Estates was designed by famous architect Frank Lloyed Wright. It was designed by his son, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. (also known as Lloyd Wright.)