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Mixed response to housing rule

Posted: September 10, 2008 10:20 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The bricks that hold up the Canyon Theatre Guild, Newhall Ice, the old jailhouse and other local historic buildings will go untouched unless the city says otherwise.

The Santa Clarita City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires property owners to get a city-issued permit before modifying structures included on the city's list of 62 historic sites.

Some residents who found their addresses on the list, however, challenged the city's selection process.

The new requirement includes six homes in Newhall built between 1910 and 1946.

Newhall resident Molly Hodson questioned why her 95-year-old house on Market Street is on the list.

"Before you penalize us on our private-property rights, at least take a second look," she told council members. "No historical events have happened on my property and no historical people have lived on the property."

"Once you've got two consultants and you tell me it's historical, I will go with the flow and back you 100 percent," Hodson said. "But right now, I'm saying that list has some problems."

The council voted 3-2 for the ordinance, with Mayor Bob Kellar and Councilman Frank Ferry dissenting.

"Don't penalize them for having property because we decide it's old," Kellar said. "It is going to have an effect on the value of their property."

If a resident tries to sell their house, they must disclose that it's on the city's list and "it will probably cost them the sale," he said.

The planners used a list of historic sites included in the city's General Plan and another list from the environmental impact report for the downtown Newhall Specific Plan, Alex Hernandez, administrative analyst with the city, said Wednesday.

Palmer Historical Consulting compiled the list in the downtown Newhall Specific Plan that was adopted in 2005. The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society was used as a reference for the list in the General Plan, Hernandez said.

The new requirement is effective Oct. 9 and will likely be in effect for less than three years while planners set a more comprehensive, permanent review plan.

Though historians support preserving the city's irreplaceable relics, residents are also concerned that being on a special list will decrease their property values and make it harder to sell their homes.

Ferry, who cast his vote with Kellar, suggested providing a tax incentive for those who own historic structures.

"By being on the list it does impose an additional burden," said Community Development Director Paul Brotzman. He said, however, the staff has "tried to minimize it as much as possible."

Brotzman said a structure's spot on the list could ultimately be appealed to the City Council.


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