Tuesday, August 12, 2008

City of Sacramento Preservation Commission

I recently had the chance to attend a City of Sacramento Preservation Commission meeting. Preservation Commission meets regularly on the first Wednesday of every month at City Hall downtown. The purpose of the commission is to ensure that Sacramento maintains its character by doing things like defining historic districts, registing local historic landmarks, reviewing development and redevelopment projects, developing and recommending to the city council certain preservation policies, etc.

Sacramento has literally thousands of registered historic landmarks (including single family homes, commercial buildings, factories, churches, bridges, statues, and parks, etc.). It also has a couple dozen "Historic Districts" and "Survey Areas."

Most notably on the agenda for the meeting I attended was a proposed project to redevelop the R Street Historic District, and a proposed residential solar project for a single family home in Southside Park...among other things. The R Street project was pretty interesting - it is a commercial area full of warehouses built around the turn of the century, and right down the middle is the first railway that went through Sacramento. It is proposed to improve the roadway surfaces, drainage, parking, and pedestrian access, while preserving the rail tracks and overall character of the area. The residential solar project was also interesting - the owner of this single family, victorian style home wants to completely change the look of the home to a different style, and rotate the second story of the house to face due South for optimal sun exposure. This project is was a pre-application exploratory conversation...so no decision was rendered.

What does this mean for you as a property owner in one of these districts, or if you own a property that is a registered historic landmark? It means that if you want to remodel your house (or business if you own a commercial building) and substantially change its appearance and character, it is likely that you may have to meet with the Preservation Commission to get your ideas and project plans approved. They also review residential and commercial new construction in these districts to make sure they are consistent with the character of the area. The commission meets the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30pm at City Hall in Downtown Sacramento...interesting stuff if you can find the time to attend...

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