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Santa Barbara Council Allocates Additional $30,000 for Historic Resources Plan

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved an additional $30,000 to help the Community Development Department implement the Historic Resources Element of the city’s General Plan.

Funding will help with mapping, developing a database of historical resources, and printing guidelines for the city’s Five-Year Historic Resources Work Program, project planner Heather Widen said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The city wants to focus on identifying historic districts and individual properties, creating a master database of historic resources and potential future designations, and crafting guidelines to help homeowners who live in a historic district or home, Widen said.

A lot of the work is already being done by Community Development staff as they review proposed developments, update codes and serve the Historic Landmarks Commission, according to city planner Betty Weiss.

“Everything recommended is already in progress to some degree,” she said.

Much of the work — and necessary funding — has to do with getting the database up and running, and accessible to the public.

With identifying historic districts, city staff members will use data from surveys done within the last 10 years as a starting point. Consultants have gathered extensive data on historic properties for the west downtown, lower Riviera and West Beach/waterfront neighborhoods, which cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, Weiss said.

The waterfront survey is the oldest — done in 2002 — and staff members will start with that area.

The process could draw some controversy, Widen noted. Whenever a city talks about designating a district or individual structure as historic, homeowners want to know how they’ll be affected.

The city plans to have a lot of outreach with workshops, educational presentations, clear guidelines and discussions of the benefits from a historical designation, she said.

Many studies have shown that being part of a historic district stabilizes or even raises property values, according to Nicole Hernandez, the city’s urban historian.

Members of the public and representatives of the Historic Landmarks Commission supported the allocation of $30,000, and the five-year plan for implementing the historic resources element.

Hernandez said the city will include summary pages of each district’s history, along with the guidelines for homeowners in the area, so the area’s people are acknowledged as well.

“That’s where we garnish the pride of that history, and each district already has one (written up by the city),” she said. “It’s more than just a building — it’s what’s behind it that gives it that story.”

The council also approved changes to the Police Management Association’s pension contributions at Tuesday’s meeting.

Members now pay 2.88 percent of the 9-percent member contribution to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System; they previously paid none. The city, which paid the entirety of the employee-paid portion in the past for many labor groups, will now pay less into CalPERS.

All new employees or members who join the bargaining group after Jan. 1 of this year have to pay at least half the normal cost, 12.75 percent, into their own pension benefits, and the city cannot pay member contributions for those people.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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