Karen McWilliams, the City’s Preservation Planner, recently provided the FCBR Government Affairs Committee with an update on the proposed historic preservation regulations that are part of the Municipal Code. The topic is slated for an Aug. 26th study session. She said the primary goal of the revisions is to make the code more transparent and predictable.
Currently the LPC (Landmark Preservation Commission) Chair and Community Development Director determine historic eligibility with a 2-week appeal process. Anyone can appeal that decision –- an owner, a neighbor, etc. One change that is being proposed by staff is to require a minimum of three citizens (non-property owners) to appeal an eligibility decisions to prevent what Karen described as “capricious situations.”
McWilliams also noted that the number of property owners complaining that they were unaware of their property’s historic designation has declined. She is not planning to ask the City Council to consider a City disclosure form that would become a required document for real estate transactions. The Committee was relieved to hear this but it was also made clear that the City Council could ask staff to include a disclosure even if she is not recommending this tactic.
She said ultimately staff wants to do a better job of identifying potential historic properties, preserving those that are eligible and educating property owners and the public. To meet these goals the City is planning to create a GIS database to identify properties and create what Karen described as a wiki-website on which people can add historic information about properties (the site will be monitored by staff for accuracy). McWilliams added that she hopes to create more historic tours for the public and historic preservation workshops for property owners or those interested in purchasing a historic property.