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Historic Preservation Ordinance Back Before Council

Amendments could provide more evaluations of undesignated resources

Published on Monday, January 11, 2021 | 5:00 am

The City Council will once again take up amendments to the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The item was tabled last month. 

According to a city staff report, the ordinance could provide more protections to historic resources that have not been deemed landmarks.

“The existing Historic Preservation Ordinance regulates evaluation, designation, and protection of historic resources, and was last amended in 2009 and 2007, and prior to that, in 2005 in conjunction with the adoption of a new Zoning Code,” states the report. 

“The 2005 version of the ordinance is substantially the same as the November 2002 version, which was a complete rewrite of the city’s original Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO) from the 1970s,” according to the report.

Staff members have 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 the 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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