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Preservation rules return

After year to conduct study, historic designation returns to discussion

Posted: September 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

A proposed Santa Clarita historic preservation ordinance comes back before the City Council tonight after nearly a year’s lull for a study on how other cities deal with the locally contentious topic.

Council members will hold a public hearing on the matter and may vote to approve the proposed ordinance that touched off a battle last year between preservationists and property-rights advocates.

A key point in the conflict involved the power to designate a property as historic. The proposed ordinance has only the property owner empowered to “opt in” for designation, and grants the owner the right to “opt out” if approved through a Planning Commission hearing.

Properties widely held as historic but whose owner didn’t want the designation would not make the list, which restricts what could be done with the property but grants other advantages, including potential tax relief.

A little over 40 properties are on the protected list under the current ordinance, which has been on the books since 2008 but was considered to be temporary.

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission recommended last October that the city adopt the proposed new measure.

“Either this community is about historic preservation, or it isn’t,” Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society President Alan Pollack said during the commission meeting in opposition to the new ordinance. “We still fear that no one would want to opt in,” Pollack said following the commission vote.

According to an agenda report for tonight’s meeting, the survey conducted by city staff shows that 15 cities across the country all allow citizens and agencies besides the property owner to nominate properties for historic designation, including the City Council, historic preservation commissions and the general public.

The survey also found all the cities had a historic preservation commission of some kind. Under Santa Clarita’s plan, the Planning Commission would serve as the historic preservation commission.

The council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd.

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