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What's Worth Preserving About Our Homes?

Which top five features of living in Eagle Rock do you prize most?

Land zoned and used for detached, single-family houses currently covers a majority of Eagle Rock. Single-family housing has significantly shaped the neighborhood’s history, local politics, real estate, demography, image and patterns of living. Having evolved from agricultural settlements to an independent city to a bedroom community of the City of Los Angeles, Eagle Rock is still figuring out what it is and what it could be.

Are we best defined as a unit of a vast metropolitan region—or as a self-contained neighborhood with its own identity? Are we an urban neighborhood? Or are we a suburb? (Historian Kenneth Jackson defined suburbs in his book, “Crabgrass Frontier,” as places where the affluent and middle class live, “far from their places of work, in homes that they own, and in the center of yards that by urban standards elsewhere are enormous.”)

Single-family residential land use is enshrined and regulated in the law. The General Plan of the City of Los Angeles “recognizes the importance of existing single-family residential neighborhoods and the need to conserve them.”

One of the objectives of the Northeast Los Angeles Community Plan is to protect “existing stable single-family and other lower-density residential neighborhoods from encroachment by higher-density residential and other uses that are incompatible as to scale and character or would otherwise diminish the quality of life.” 

Zoning is the main way that Los Angeles “protects” and “conserves” single-family residential areas such as those that make up much of Eagle Rock. If you own a house or an empty lot in a single-family residential zone in Eagle Rock, zoning ordinances limit how you can use the property. You are limited, too, in uses other than single-family, detached houses. For example, ordinances control where on a lot you can build a house, how big the lot must be, how big the house can be, how much parking you have to include, and what business activities you can operate from your structure.

Preserving the character of these single-family neighborhoods is probably appealing to many who live in them as well as to those who aspire to such a lifestyle. But the whole issue is also somewhat mysterious—or at least open to different interpretations.

What is worth preserving? What is OK—or desirable—to change? What is the essence, the character of these places?

Is it privacy or a sense of community? Is it the uniformity of the standard house lot or the diversity of architecture? Is it living near people such as you or meeting individuals from different walks of life? High property values or relative affordability?

I have my own opinions. But I’m interested in what readers think are the key elements of Eagle Rock’s residential neighborhoods that residents and policy makers should try to preserve.

Spare a few moments to pick the top five characteristics of single-family residential areas in Eagle Rock that are important to you and you think are worth conserving and/or promoting. Please present your top five picks in the Comments section below. (If you feel too rushed, you may list the characteristics below by their serial numbers, picking your top five choices from 1 through 18.)

1. Affordable starter homes.

2. All houses having front, back and side yards.

3. Being able to walk to retail stores.

4. Big house and yard.

5. Different styles and sizes of houses.

6. Easy access to freeways.

7. Friendly neighbors and sense of community.

8. Houses having their own parking in driveways as well as garages or carports, plus additional free street parking.

9. Living near people of different income levels and races.

10. Mix of single-family homes, duplexes, granny flats, apartments in residential areas.

11. Most houses and yards being similar in size, style and placement on the lot.

12. Most of your neighbors being similar to you in socioeconomic and racial background.

13. Mostly small-sized to medium-sized houses, rather than very large houses.

14. Privacy from neighbors.

15. Short commute to work.

16. Sidewalks and streets that are safe and calm enough to walk and play on.

17. Stable or rising property values.

18. Streets with only single-family houses—no apartments or businesses mixed in.

Marcus February 29, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Have to agree with Jayres.
Sandra Mastroianni February 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Thank you Jayres for saying what I wanted to say.
Michael Larsen February 29, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Ditto Jayres
S.M. March 01, 2012 at 05:28 AM
A little tough to pick from the choices presented, but I ended up with these: 3. Being able to walk to retail stores. 7. Friendly neighbors and sense of community. 9. Living near people of different income levels and races. 13. Mostly small-sized to medium-sized houses, rather than very large houses. 16. Sidewalks and streets that are safe and calm enough to walk and play on.
Oscar Romero March 01, 2012 at 11:42 PM
3. Being able to walk to retail stores. 5. Different styles and sizes of houses. 7. Friendly neighbors and sense of community. 9. Living near people of different income levels and races. 15. Short commute to work.

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