City Council moves to protect history
By Patti Shea
Signal Staff Writer
Thursday, January 3, 2002
he Santa Clarita City Council took initial steps Wednesday evening to preserve the valley's historic treasures.
Prompted by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, city planners told the council that in order to preserve
more than three dozen historic sites and buildings throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, the city will need to create an ordinance protecting these locations.
City Planning Director Jeff Lambert said the city currently has no leverage in protecting historical landmarks.
"We can't do a whole lot because we don't have an ordinance in place to give us any teeth to do something," Lambert told the council.
The council members were in unison agreeing a preservation program needed to be mandatory, but not infringe on current occupants' rights.
"We have to be very careful with our goals," warned Councilman Cameron Smyth, adding preservation is absolutely necessary but the city wasn't in the position to disrupt any property owner's rights.
Councilman Bob Kellar agreed.
"Historical element is a very valuable commodity in this community," he said. "We have to make sure we don't burden these folks, but work with them.
The city identified 33 historically significant places in its 10-year-old general plan, however, only 13 are protected by Los Angeles County or a private group. On the list are a handful of private residences or businesses, mostly in the Old Town Newhall.
Mayor Frank Ferry agreed with his fellow council members, but said the city needs to be cautious in what it defines as historical.
"To me, just because something's old doesn't mean it's historic," Ferry said, adding he wants a meeting with all the potentially impacted home and property owners to hear their concerns.
Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy said the council attempted something similar many years ago but met some resistance from homeowners.
"I don't want the animosity to build up like years ago," Darcy said, adding that the city needs to provide incentives for people to participate in the program.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste said the program needed to be mandatory, comparing it to the city's oak tree ordinance.
"I wonder if the oak tree ordinance was voluntary, how many people would activate it," she said.
The city is currently redrafting its general plan and the council said it would like to see more specific definitions on record protecting historical sites. Among the listed sites are the Melody Ranch, William S. Hart Park and Museum, St. Francis Dam disaster site, Mentryville and Oak of the Golden Dream.
Concerned historians voiced their concerns to the council.
"We cannot keep picking all of our historic structures up and move them to Heritage Junction," said Duane Harte, president of the Friends of Mentryville.
Heritage Junction currently houses the original Saugus Train Station, Pardee House and the Newhall Ranch House, which were moved from their original locations.
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