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After blowback from residents, Palo Alto slows down push for 'historical' designations

Original post made on Nov 9, 2023

Palo Alto's contentious effort to update its historic registry kicked off Thursday, when the Historical Resources Board considered more than 30 buildings for listings. But faced with opposition, it delayed reviews for about 30 others.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 9, 2023, 1:09 PM

Comments (6)

Posted by Seer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2023 at 3:24 pm

Seer is a registered user.

Yeah, allow homeowners to opt in or out. Palo Alto already has too many regulations that increase delays and costs combined with a slow, unresponsive planning dept..

Posted by Jess C
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2023 at 10:35 am

Jess C is a registered user.

If the city is going to slap the “historical” tag on houses, to elevate the city at the expense of the homeowner, then it seems only fair that the homeowner should be adequately compensated for this. Let it be a *choice* of the homeowner (after all, you’re reducing a homeowner’s usage of the property). If you compensate adequately, people will seek this designation. If they still don’t want it, well, then there’s your answer — it’s not worth it.

This doesn’t need to be an ongoing payment. A onetime payment is sufficient. Future homeowners will know what they’re getting into, and will pay accordingly.

Problem solved.

Posted by Member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2023 at 10:38 am

Member is a registered user.

I keep waiting for someone to tell me what the legal basis is for an outside consultant to impose historical status on my property without my consent.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2023 at 11:29 am

Online Name is a registered user.

I keep waiting to know how much money was wasted on an outside consultant that created a list of properties that's both unnecessary and totally arbitrary since they left out so many oif the older homes.

This whole mess should never have happened! Doesn't the city have better things to do with our money -- like finally opening the libraries

What a waste of time, money and aggravation. The city owes us an explanation for their latest debacle.

Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 10, 2023 at 1:05 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

This is madness. The stated goal (at a City Council meeting a year or two ago) of this unilateral designation was to block homeowners from using Prop 9 to subdivide or add a second home to their lots. However, that has not happened, as is clear from looking at all of the homes on this list. Apparently, due to extensive qualification requirements, Prop 9 has been used hardly at all (if at all) in Palo Alto since it passed. So, this entire process was based on chasing a wholly irrelevant goal.

Additionally, two homes highlighted by this article make clear how arbitrary and nonsensical the results of the expensive survey were. 635 Bryant is a beautiful historic RESIDENCE that was converted to an OFFICE, and now the City wants to preserve its office use and not allow this beautiful HOME to be used as a home anymore? How does that make sense? (Or do they want to convert it back to residential? That is not stated in the article.) And, 817 Kipling is a duplex that has been languishing on the for-sale market for months, possibly because its floor plans (two tiny one-bedroom units with inconveniently placed bedrooms/bathrooms) appeals to very few buyers. It lacks a garage and could benefit from a new owner who wanted to invest in making the units larger and more universally appealling. What possible good is preserving a home in a form that is not livable to potential buyers?

There are so many things that the City could do to actually move the needle when it comes to housing. To me the lowest hanging fruit is follow other city's leads in finally enforcing against the many international (and local) homeowners who continue to leave their homes vacant. A vacancy tax or vacancy fine would incentivize owners of ghost houses finally to put them up for rent or sell them, which could materially increase inventory without any new development! That is great for neighborhoods, communities, and the environment. So many other cities have successful vacancy fees - why not us?

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

I'd be happy to have my home listed as historic. It was built in 1928 and has not been radically changed since it was built. It has been in my family since 1950. We maintain it but try not to alter its classic charm.

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