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UPDATED: Planning Commission to discuss historic homes

City: Historic-preservation ordinance is up for discussion at meeting

Posted: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Local property owners whose buildings made a city list of potential historic landmarks may soon have good reason to want to stay on that list.

At tonight’s Santa Clarita Planning Commission meeting, city planners are set to consider changes to a proposed ordinance that would designate 27 local properties as historic landmarks.

The proposed amendments include an opt-out clause for affected property owners, financial incentives and penalties for those who illegally tear down historic properties.

City planners will also suggest creating an independent historic preservation committee made up of people with credentials in law, architecture, real estate or history to help oversee local historic properties, according to a city staff report.

The suggested changes were mostly triggered by property owners who’ve voiced concerns of unnecessary costs and penalties under the new ordinance. It also mimics historic preservation ordinances in nearby cities such as Burbank, Pasadena and Ventura.

Many of the affected property owners have gathered at 10 or so city meetings held since November or have penned letters to city planners urging them to add an opt-out clause to Santa Clarita’s proposed historic landmark ordinance.

At a May 4 city meeting, about 25 community property owners, businesspeople and residents emphasized their support for that amendment, Assistant City Planner David Peterson said.

Attendees also said the city should ensure property owners are aware of any financial incentives they’d qualify for under the ordinance.

Owners of properties deemed as historic landmarks may be eligible for tax breaks via California’s Mills Act, a property-tax benefit program designed to help preserve the state’s historical sites, according to the staff report.

Since the list was released in November, five property owners – including the owners of Western-themed production studio Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio and the old Newhall Jail owner – have asked to be cut from the list.


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