|Advocacy Committee Report||| Print ||
To stay up to date with the most current Advocacy issues, refer to our current newsletter in the Education section of this website.
By Wendy Harn, Advocacy Vice President
Consistent progress has been made on Long Beach Heritage initiatives. The core work continues to be handled by Advocacy Liaisons Dave Waller and Karen Highberger. Fortunately, John Thomas and Maureen Neeley have also continued work on issues they’ve championed, as previous Board members and for this I am very grateful.
The Downtown Plan
The Planning Commission approved the Downtown Plan at their November 10 meeting. The approval process has definitely been a learning experience for me. Although LBH supported approval, we are continuing to research properties in the Downtown Plan area, as there are many properties we believe deserve a more thorough review. This continuing review has the approval of city staff, as noted in the following email excerpt from Steve Gerhardt, AICP Senior Planner, Long Beach Development Services, Planning Bureau: “…staff is not recommending including any single family dwellings or civic/public buildings. The 8 we did add in the Final EIR are multiple family residential, commercial or mixed use structures. We expect that the conversation about including additional properties will continue as LB Heritage research continues.
The HPE lists designated historic structures (local and State/National register), but not potentially eligible structures. As you know, local landmarks are designated through the Municipal Code, Title 16.52, and are included via ordinance.The City has no approval authority over State/National designation, but often participate in that effort, as was done on the Richard Neutradesigned Hafley House earlier this year.
In the event of any sort of conflict, if a property is “suspected” of being historic in any planning document or otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of age and/or intrinsic historic value, CEQA requires that it be considered historic until proven otherwise. One of the primary purposes of the Jones and Stokes survey for the Downtown Plan was to determine which properties are considered historic and worthy of local designation or adaptive reuse in the Downtown Plan (Table 4.3-3 as amended), and which no longer are considered historic.
The Downtown Plan will be the definitive document for eligible structures in the project area. We will continue to amend and update the list of historic properties as necessary through administration of the Downtown Plan in the coming decades.”
To this end Maureen Neeley and I have recently formed a survey army, enlisting the help of several volunteers who were provided with research basics and then sent to the streets to survey specific properties. I feel strongly that LBH partner with City staff in identifying and classifying properties for consideration.
Historic District Coalition
Dave Waller and Karen Highberger are continuing to work on strengthening the Historic District Coalition. They have met with officers of several Historic Districts to identify each district’s needs. One goal is to develop an ongoing communications infrastructure between the LBH and the Historic Districts.
LBH is committed to reactivating the Mills Act and with assisting with Historic District code enforcement issues. Adaptive Reuse Ordinance Approved John Thomas successfully championed the development of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance on behalf of LBH. The City Council approved this ordinance at their October 10, 2011 meeting. This is a significant component of the Historic Preservation Element. Great job, John!
Here is the specific agenda wording: “Recommendation to request City Manager to develop an adaptive reuse incentive program and ordinance that recognizes the economic, environmental and cultural value of preserving older and/or historic landmark buildings in consultation with the Cultural Heritage Commission, the Planning Commission and the historic preservation community.
Request that the program include, but not be limited to, the following elements drawing on adaptive reuse ordinances in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Pasadena:
• A fair, clear and predictable approval process that stresses collaboration between the various approval entities including building, Fire, planning and Public Works.
• Regulatory changes to provide incentives for adaptive reuse, including the potential for density, corridors/neighborhoods of focus, by-right and parking waivers.
• Flexibility in building and fire codes that mandate health and safety protections while ensuring that requirements do not render projects infeasible
• Application of the historic building code as appropriate.
• Develop a handbook and online resource describing the program to potential developers.