Reject Overly Complex Historic Preservation Rules


I read with interest the letter to the editor of Doug Cortez. Together with his comments at the Dec. 16 City Council meetings, facts become clear.

First, the historical ordinance is an option not a mandate. The ordinance under consideration is egregious and costly, especially when thousands of Laguna Beach residents awake to find their 70-year-old home will be subject to the wanton review of City Hall when requesting a permit. Only 20% of cities in California have such an ordinance and none have one like this one.

Second, and most interesting, Mr. Cortez points out that such an ordinance only works well in cities that have historic districts. When no such district exists, voluntary approaches work best. See Dana Point and Manhattan Beach for example. I question why we needed Mr. Cortez to bring this to our attention and hope against hope that it will be given due consideration.

Finally, the proposed ordinance requires registrants to give the city control over their homes without due process via an undefined agreement – unique to Laguna Beach. I don’t see how this can be legitimate.

Having observed the evolution of this proposed ordinance over the years, I add to these facts an observation that besides being unnecessary, nobody really seems to understand this complicated ordinance and significantly its ramifications. I have watched it propagate to its current form and the befuddled reaction of the members of the City Council is repetitive. One might argue that given enough time and money it could be understood. After at least two years, I believe that like most overreaching legislation there is no way to predict how it will be interpreted nor can its consequences be defensible.

It’s time for the City Council to separate itself from the bureaucracy and take a leadership position. Let us have just a voluntary Mills Act registration program.

David S. Watkins, Laguna Beach

Originally published in The Indy, December 21, 2017

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