California Preservationists Sue To Overturn Law That Requires Property Owners Consent To Having Their Homes Landmarked
A coalition of preservation groups in Orange County, California, is suing the coastal community of Laguna Beach in an effort to overturn a recent amendment to the city’s historic preservation ordinance that requires property owners to voluntarily opt in to having their homes considered a historic resource and all the restrictions that come with that.
“It would be unthinkable for the City to require owner consent to review biological habitat or wetlands during the approval process,” said Krista Nicholds, president of Preserve Orange County, in a press release. “State law recognizes that historic resources have comparable public benefit. Owner consent has nothing to do with objective standards of historic merit.”
Last week, Preserve Orange County, alongside the Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition and Village Laguna, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, County of Orange arguing that Laguna Beach failed to conduct sufficient environmental review—as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)—when approving its new voluntary preservation law in August 2020.
Supporters of the voluntary preservation ordinance counter that Laguna Beach had for years been relying on an outdated “historic inventory” when determining which buildings were historic resources. Homeowners were often unaware of their properties’ supposed status as a historic resource and thus were blindsided by the restrictions that come with that status when applying for permits to perform even basic alterations.
“They would make their planning applications and they’d just get ambushed by someone popping up and saying this is a historic resource,” says Larry Nokes, a Laguna Beach attorney who was an advocate for amending the city’s preservation ordinance.
Property owners “looking at a fairly simple window replacement or door replacement would be forced to get a historic assessment of the house at their expense and then find that they were limited at what they were able to do in their remodel,” he says.
“In 2011, I was able to hire a contractor to install new clad windows, fireproof the house with Hardback siding and drywall the interior walls. However, when I went to the city to pull a permit, I was told I was on the historic inventory and would have to install all wood,” wrote one Laguna Beach homeowner in a blog post published by Let Laguna Live, a group tha
Article from Latest – Reason.com