Group urging inventoried homeowners to attend the draft ordinance hearing at Design Review Board meeting Thursday

Owners of properties listed on the city’s Historic Inventory are being urged to attend Thursday’s Design Review Board hearing on the draft Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The property owners have been contacted by a letter from Let Laguna Live, a recently formed public benefit corporation. The group opposes the inclusion of all homes built before 1955 on the inventory without permission of the property owners, as recommended by the city Heritage Committee in the draft ordinance.
“Let Laguna Live came about because a lot of people felt they were not being listened to by the Heritage Committee,” said attorney Larry Nokes, creator of the organization. “They tried to explain their concerns, but those concerns never made it into the draft ordinance.”

A governing board for the organization is expected to be completed within the next two weeks, according to Nokes.

The draft ordinance was described as devoid of many meaningful incentives and highly punitive in practice in the letter sent to owners of listed properties. The letter alleges that the draft impairs owners’ ability to remodel their homes or add a second unit. It also states that the ordinance requires property owners to disclose the existence of the ordinance and would diminish the value of their homes.

Under the terms of the draft, applications for relocation, demolition, alterations or request for a rating to pre-1955 properties would be submitted to the Community Development Director.

“My decision is given to the Heritage Committee (to determine property rating),” said Director Greg Pfost. “The committee holds a noticed meeting and its decision can be appealed to the City Council.”

Homes built before 1955 would be classified by the Heritage Committee, ranging from no historical significance to E, the highest rating. Key homes with historical or architectural value are K-rated. C-rated homes are deemed to contribute to the neighborhood character and history and to the oft-cited village atmosphere, which like pornography defies description but is identifiable when seen by the evaluator.
It is proposed that after evaluation, the property will be added to the inventory with the rating.

Owners of the rated homes are eligible to request incentives such as reductions in parking and setback requirements, but are not guaranteed.
If the board approves the draft to be presented on Thursday, the ordinance moves on to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council for final approval.
Affected property owners are encouraged to review the draft ordinance on the city website,, attend all meetings related to the ordinance, to contact design review board, planning commission and City Council members to express concerns, Nokes explained.

For more information about Let Laguna Live, visit and add contact information for updates.

By Barbara Diamond

Originally published in Stu News Laguna, January 24, 2017

Leave a Reply