Historic Preservation Ordinance May Have Opt-Out Clause
The City of Santa Clarita would like to institute a more comprehensive Historic Preservation Ordinance, but the city is receiving push back from building owners who would rather opt-out.
According to the City Planner’s office, the owners of 5 of the 27 buildings recommended for historic designation would like to say thanks, but no thanks to the honor.
“There’s a series of public hearings that have to take place in order for that designation to be made. However, under the current, proposed ordinance there is no requirement, for the designating body, which would be the city, to get the permission from the property owner itself to make that designation,” said Dave Peterson, Assistant City Planner II.
Not only would the property owners not be able to give their permission, there could be restrictions on how the owner modified their property.
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“If you’re a designated historic property there would be additional review of your property if you wanted to do any particular kind of significant improvements of the property that wouldn’t exist if you weren’t an historic property,” Peterson said.
However, the city argues there are incentives to being declared historic.
“If you were an historic property owner and you wanted to do an improvement to your property you would be subject potentially to the California Historic building code as opposed to the current California building code. The California Historic building code is not as demanding as the current California building code,” said Peterson.
Whether or not an opt-out clause will be available to these owners is up to debate at Tuesday city council meeting.
The Planning Commission is recommending the clause be included and city staff will present their recommendation to the council.
“If the property owner did not want to have that designation they could say no. And if they did that the process would stop,” Peterson said.
Additionally, the Planning Commission reports they are listening to the public’s demand for an Historic Preservation Committee and that it be independent of the Planning Commission with all or part of its membership comprised of credentialed individuals in the fields of law, architecture, real estate and/or history.
They are also asking for the establishment of a three to five year moratorium on building permits for the illegal demolition of historic structures.
The Newhall Redevelopment Committee also voted to approve the establishment of a revised Historic Preservation Ordinance and an independent Historic Preservation Committee; however, they do not support an opt-out clause.
They also recommended to the Planning Commission that the ordinance include a five-year moratorium on building permits for designated structures that are demolished illegally. Additionally, the property owner would pay triple the building permit fee for any new construction on the property.
The Planning Commission has not recommended a specific penalty.
The City Council will open the public hearing and provide direction to staff on any modifications to the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance and then continue the public hearing until August 23, 2011.
The City Council meets at 6 p.m.
If you would like to view photos of the recommended historic properties, click here.