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Commission to Discuss Changes to Pasadena’s Historic Preservation Ordinance

Amendments could provide more evaluations of local undesignated resources

Published on Monday, August 3, 2020 | 3:00 am

The Historic Preservation Commission will discuss amendments to the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance on Tuesday that would provide more protection to historic resources that have not been deemed landmarks.

According to a city staff report, “Since the most recent amendments to the HPO [Historic Protection Ordinance] in 2009, several major issues have come to light, including the treatment of proposed demolition of, and major alterations to, eligible undesignated historic resources, the need for a defined process to conduct historic resource evaluations, the types of projects that require a Certificate of Appropriateness, and unclear and inappropriate violation procedures.”

As part of the review process city staff has reviewed the city’s existing ordinance and similar ordinances in 40 communities throughout the state and engaged in an outreach effort with neighborhood representatives, including City Council-appointed representatives.

The amendments would prohibit the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for demolition — or major alterations — if a project is found to be inconsistent with design guidelines.

According to the current ordinance, the review process may only delay the issuance of a COA for up to six months, but cannot stop the issuance of the certificate.

The amendment would also set up a procedure for evaluating properties for potential historical significance. As part of the procedure, an evaluation would be required before any building, site, structure or object 45-years or older could be altered or demolished.

Properties evaluated within the past five years and cases where a project requires documentation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) would be exempt.

Evaluations could be appealable or reviewed by the commission.

The amendment would also change how the city defines major and minor projects.

The ordinance would also create an automatic category for works of Greene & Greene that states that all buildings, structures, objects and interior fixtures designed by the firm or by Charles or Henry Greene separately are automatically designated and exempt from designation procedures in the ordinance.

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