Update: Although they were listed numerically in the city staff report, city planner Dave Peterson said the numbering of properties tabbed for preservation was not intended as a ranking of their relative historical significance.
The Newhall Ice building on 5th Street and the former Sheriff’s substation at Main and 6th top a new list of properties up for official “historic” status.
The Santa Clarita City Council will revisit the issue of a new ordinance to protect the community’s most historically important homes and businesses when it returns Tuesday from its summer break.
The city staff is scheduled to present its recommendations for which properties would fall under the ordinance. Several property owners on the new list have previously indicated they want off.
The proposed ordinance would supersede a moratorium the council placed three years ago against the demolition of 47 structures that a consultant deemed historic or potentially historic. All of the properties are in Newhall, the Santa Clarita Valley’s oldest established section.
While there was discussion at the time that the moratorium would be temporary, it in fact does not automatically “sunset” and remains on the books unless the council takes new action.
Since the moratorium went into effect, many property owners requested removal from the list. As proposed, the new ordinance would apply to a maximum 26 buildings, following last month’s removal of Queen of Angels Church at its request.
Critics have also pleaded to the Planning Commission and City Council for an “opt-out” clause that would prevent the city from forcibly subjecting new properties to the ordinance’s limitations.
As drafted, the ordinance would bar the listed property owners from demolishing or significantly altering the historic nature of their home or building. In return, property owners could avail themselves of less stringent building codes, and would be eligible to receive federal grant funding to maintain their properties. Participants also would be exempted from city permit fees.
Several listed property owners have told city officials they want to be included. Approximately five of the remaining 26 have told the city they want out.
At its July 12 meeting, the council directed staff to re-examine the list and talk to the “hold-outs.” Officials mooted the issue of an opt-out clause, saying the ordinance would apply only to the specific properties on the list.
On Tuesday, the city staff will present its findings, including its recommendations for inclusion on the list.
On the new list
Topping the staff’s recommendation is the Newhall Ice House, built in 1922, followed by the former Sheriff’s Substation at Sixth and Main Street (1926), currently owned by the Canyon Theatre Guild. CTG representatives have told the city they do not want to be included.
Also on the list are the bungalows on Walnut Street known as the Tom Mix Cottages (1919-1922), the Old Newhall Jail (1906) and three structures at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio. Although the movie studio burned down in 1962, the three structures, erected around 1936, survived the fire.
The owners of both the Newhall Jail and Melody Ranch have previously said they do not want to be included.
Also included are the former California Star Oil Co. house on Pine Street (1878), the American Legion Hall (1940) and six structures owned by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society at Heritage Junction Historic Park inside William S. Hart Park.
In addition, staff is recommending that the following properties be added to list: the building known as “Ye Old Courthouse” at Market and Railroad, and the Emil Chaix home on Walnut Street that now houses the Boy Scouts of America – which has previously objected to inclusion.
Off the new list
Slated for removal would be the following: William Ross dental office, Beneficial Loans building, Army Surplus building, the former Newhall Hardware, the Erwin Bungalow and the Tom Frew blacksmith shop, all on Main Street.
In addition, the Jauregui house on 13th Street, several residences on Walnut and Market streets, and the former Signal newspaper office on 6th Street would be exempted.
No final decision is expected Tuesday. Staff is asking the council to provide more direction, particularly on matters raised in a prior Planning Commission hearing. In passing it along to the City Council for a final decision, the Planning Commission recommended adoption of a historic preservation ordinance – but only if it includes an opt-out clause, penalties for illegal demolition of historic structures, and additional incentives to entice owners to protect their properties.
Staff is asking the council to give guidance Tuesday and continue the hearing until Sept. 27.