The Santa Clarita City Council will once again wrestle with the knotty problem of historic preservation following their summer hiatus. And like a tree branch having its knots whittled off, the council will consider a shaved down list of properties for historic designation.
In order to institute a more comprehensive Historic Preservation Ordinance, the city originally targeted 27 buildings for historic designation. Five of the owners said thanks, but no thanks.
At the July 12 city council meeting, Council Member Ferry suggested city staff return with a better description of why certain structures would be considered historic and the city council could give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on their historic designation.
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This proposal came despite recommendations by both the Planning Commission and the Newhall Redevelopment Committee for an independent Historical Preservation Committee.
At the upcoming Tuesday night city council meeting city staff is expected to deliver their Top 15 list of historic buildings. Council Members will then be able to give their literal of figurative Roman Emperor-like thumb vote.
City staff is recommending the following properties which “demonstrate the highest historic significance and should receive a historic designation”:
1. The Newhall Ice Company, 22502–22510 5th Street.
2. The Sheriff’s Substation #6, 24238 Main Street.
3. The Tom Mix Cottages, 24247–24251 Main Street.
4. The Newhall Jail, 24522 Spruce Street.
Three structures at Melody Ranch, 24757 Oakcreek Avenue:
5. The Hopalong Cassidy House
6. The Old Gene Autry House
7. The Main Gate of the property.
8. The California Star Oil Company House, 24148 Pine Street.
9 The American Legion Hall, 24527 Spruce Street.
Six structures at Heritage Junction, 24151 Newhall Avenue.
10. The Callahan School House
11. Edison House
12. Kingsburry House
13. Mitchell Adobe
14. Newhall Ranch House
15. The Ramona Chapel
City staff is also recommending two additional properties to receive an historic designation as a result of their potential historic significance:
1. The Santa Clarita Courthouse / Masonic Lodge, 24307 Railroad Avenue.
2. Emile Chaix Residence, 24338 Walnut Street.
The following properties did not receive an historic designation by city staff as they do not demonstrate the highest historic significance:
1. William Ross Dental Office, 24229 Main Street
2. Beneficial Loans Building, 24307-24311 Main Street
3. Army Surplus Building, 24317-24321 Main Street
4. Newhall Hardware, 24322 Main Street
5. Residence, 22908-22916 Market Street
6. Residence, 24326 Walnut Street
7. Residence, 24328 Walnut Street
8. Erwin Bungalow, 24287 Newhall Avenue
9. Frew Blacksmith Shop, 24311-24313 Main Street
10. Jauregui House, 22621 13th Street
11. Perkins Office Court / Old Signal Office, 22506-22508 6th Street
The Planning Commission is expected to make the following recommendations to the City Council:
• Adopt the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance.
• Include an opt-out clause in the ordinance for designation of historic properties.
• Include additional incentives for owners of historic properties including technical assistance and streamlined permitting.
• Include penalty language for the illegal demolition of historic structures.
• Include a historic plaque/monument program to identify properties that have historic significance but whose owners have opted out of the designation process.
• Include language that would exempt underlying property owned by Los Angeles County or the State of California from the Ordinance.
In a change from their previous position on the need for an independent Historical Preservation Committee, the Planning Commission has concluded that if the ordinance contains an opt-out clause there would be no need for one.
At the July 12 meeting, Council Member Bob Keller and Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Ender advocated for the opt-out clause citing the respect for property rights,
Council Member Laurene Weste wanted to ensure that other owners on the original list of 27 be allowed to “opt-in” for historic designation and benefit from the potential incentives.
Mayor McLean and Weste both lamented the loss of historical structures that have already been lost, many demolished illegally in the middle of the night. Neither was in support of an “opt-out” clause.
Frank Ferry cited the preservation of historically significant buildings such as Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. as a good example of historic preservation, but noted such structures are usually publicly owned. He floated the idea of greater incentives for the owners of local historical structures or even outright purchase.
For a look at the structures being considered for historic preservation click here.