Historic preservation seems to be a priority for the city, but not so much for the people who own some of the structures on a severely cut-back list of homes and businesses selected for historic designation by the Santa Clarita City Council.
Council Member Frank Ferry asked City Staff for a rundown of how the owners of the pared down list of nine properties felt about the designation.
Newhall Ice – owner has not responded to letters or phone calls.
Sheriff’s Substation – owner wishes to be removed from the list
Tom Mix Cottages – owner neutral on the designation
Old Newhall Jail – owner wishes to be removed from the list
Melody Ranch – owners wish to be removed from the list
California Star Oil – owner has not responded to letters or phone calls.
American Legion Hall – owner in favor of an opt-out clause
That would translate to Don’t Know, No, Neutral, No, No, Don’t Know, No, unless there’s an opt-out.
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Facing several property owners protesting the violation of their property rights, council members reassessed the ordinance.
“The truth of the matter is I think we created a bureaucratic mess. And it’s called too much government,” said Council Member Bob Keller.
He said the people who spoke against the ordinance would be justified in going home and taking a heartburn pill.
“It’s clear the community is not embracing this whatsoever,” Keller said.
Mayor Marsha McLean responded to one speaker who said the City Council had gotten the process backwards. The ordinance should have been crafted with an eye towards the advantages of historic designation.
“There is a section in here: Preservation Incentives. It’s a little tiny section. If we’re going to ask people to buy into this ordinance because we think their property is worth doing it, we need to give some pretty substantial incentives and reasons for them to do it. This doesn’t do it for me,” said McLean.
While City Manager Ken Pulskamp said he understood the audience to be saying they would be happy with an “opt-in” clause, Ferry said he was hearing something different.
“I’m hearing eight people say, ‘Don’t screw with us. We’ll get in if we want to get in. But we don’t trust you to get in,” Ferry said.
Council Member Laurene Weste expressed her concern about property owners being able to choose to “opt-in” or be forced to “opt-out.” Either way, she believes, historic properties would be at risk.
“There are people that would tear it all down. There are people who have tried to do that,” Weste said.
One speaker said having their property selected as historic should have been “keen.” Unfortunately, “you weren’t being honored, you were being targeted.”
Mayor Pro-tem Laurie Ender said the City Staff needs to look into the incentives and “make it more exciting to be on the list.”
The item was tabled to a future unspecified date.
A meeting between city staff and property owners will be discussed.
For a look at the structures being considered for historic preservation click here.