What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Opinion from Eureka

Historic districts are good for Eureka
My Word by Karen Black
Article Launched: 10/29/2007 01:31:48 AM PDT

I have three houses in the proposed Clark Historic District. I also have one in a newly designated Berkeley historic neighborhood. Now I live in a Victorian just outside of a historic district in Vallejo.

I understand that the freedom to change a door or window is a big deal, but personally I think it should be a design crime to replace an old Victorian door with something new from Home Depot. Sliding Vinyl windows look bad in the front of Victorian houses. Let's keep Craftsman homes looking like Craftsmans and let Art Deco buildings stay Art Deco. Character equals value.
Here are the only two unpleasant stories that I have heard of, and I have been around awhile:
1. Someone wanted to remove an extra door in front of their house. So they remodeled inside and left a false door on the outside. It looked a little silly, but it satisfied everyone. I don't think houses have to stay exactly the same, but the basic “look” must stay the same.
2. Someone went ahead and began a cement pillar and chainlink fence around their Victorian. The Historic Committee gave them the choice of three acceptable fencing options, and after about three years of messing around doing what he wanted to do, the fellow finally did one of the things he was asked to. It looked great, and he wished he'd listened sooner.

Here is what I think people are afraid of: Historic building police. Design committees can sometimes be overly brainy and insensitive. Right now there is a building code. Is that an infringement on property rights? Yes, but we give a little for the greater good.
I'd like to see historic homes kept as genuine looking as possible, but the council members have to not be too persnickety. Just about everyone has gone by a beautiful old house and said, “Oh, that it is so sad. Look what they did to that house! It used to be so great!”
The only problem that I see with having to comply with neighborhood historic building codes is the cost. New windows are cheaper and more energy efficient than the old wood ones. I put them (shame on me!) in my first renovation because it was all I could afford.
However, I once saw a guy on the television show called “This Old House.” His business was to bring his truck/mobile workshop to your home. He would take out your old windows and make them double-paned and then reinstall them! It was cheaper than buying a new vinyl one, and everyone was happy.
Change is hard to take, but it usually turns out for the best. Perhaps new guidelines will lead to more and different business opportunities for the craftspeople around town.
Eureka is lucky to have some of the best tradespeople in America. Establishments of historic districts are good for Eureka and her economy.
Karen Black owns several houses in historic neighborhoods. She now in a Victorian just outside of a historic district in Vallejo, Calif.