Is Measure G the right law for Palo Alto?

Publication Date: Wednesday Mar 1, 2000

Is Measure G the right law for Palo Alto?

No: Historic preservation rules are too costly and complex

by Craig Woods

We all love the historic homes and wonderful architectural diversity of Palo Alto. Our historic homes are as important to our community as good schools, quiet streets and the many other things that contribute to our quality of life.

Our coalition of historic preservationists, homeowners and community leaders is opposed to Measure G, while we support the preservation of our historic homes. We believe that Palo Alto deserves a historic preservation ordinance that is user-friendly, easy to interpret and fair to all affected parties. Unfortunately, this new ordinance is too complex, too costly and too complicated.

We ask you to join us in voting no on G. Palo Alto deserves a better plan for preservation.

Measure G is a tangled web of regulations written by bureaucrats and lawyers. Measure G's more-than-35 pages raise more questions about historic preservation than they answer. One-year-old homes are regulated while other, historic homes are not. The ordinance does not include specific criteria to define which homes will be considered "historic" in the future: More homes can be added to the list at any time, without the permission of the homeowner.

The 700-plus homes on the city's current "historic list" have been placed there without the owners' consent or consultation. The measure creates an "architectural police" whose aesthetic judgments will now be the law and final authority, even for simple remodeling. For years, Palo Altans have maintained the beauty of our neighborhoods without the bureaucracy that Measure G will bring. Does our city really need this new bureaucracy?

Your home could also be included in a historic district. Anyone can propose creation of a district, which can then become a reality without your consent or even the consent of a majority of those impacted. The result is that all homes in the proposed district, whether historic or not, can be made subject to these new regulations. Permits can be frozen until the nomination process is completed. Measure G is not a reasonable policy.

Palo Alto is beautiful because we have always had architectural diversity and relied on the aesthetic judgment of homeowners in the past. Our community can develop a plan that preserves both the character of our community and the rights of homeowners.

Proponents of Measure G want you to believe that if this ordinance fails, "the bulldozers will start rolling and our historic homes will be demolished" and "not a single house will be protected." This is nothing more than an untrue and desperate attempt to scare residents into supporting this complicated and flawed measure. Join us in rejecting this scare tactic.

Please vote no on Measure G. Palo Altans deserve a measure that accurately identifies our most treasured homes without 35 pages and more than 10,000 words of legal loopholes and confusing red tape.

If you would like more information or to get involved with our campaign, please contact our campaign headquarters at (650) 327-5894 and review our Web site at www.onepaloalto.com. Thank you.

Craig Woods is a leader of the Neighbors United, No on G Campaign! and a founder of the Palo Alto Homeowners Association. He lives in a nonhistoric house in Palo Alto. 

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