Feb. 7, 2013
Monica Lara, OVN correspondent
A review of 37 possibly-historic Ojai properties will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Ojai Historic Preservation Commission (OHPC) and the Ojai City Council Tuesday.
The OHPC is expected to take on the responsibility of conducting building project reviews of potentially-historic sites.
Tuesday’s public meeting, which is set for 6 p.m., was scheduled to develop guidelines for the review process.
The goal is to protect these structures from demolition or substantial modifications, according to Rob Mullane, Ojai’s community development manager.
“(The) reality is, there is already a lot of protection and every project has to be reviewed by the Planning Commission, but there is nothing in place to prevent these buildings from getting torn down and it’s about having the appropriate body in place to review the projects,” Mullane said.
When tasked by the City Council to identify Ojai’s important sites last year, the OHPC had recommended include all buildings 50 years and older. The Council — and many local residents — didn’t support that idea because it would have included too many structures, according the Mullane.
They have since narrowed it down to 37 properties including some single-family homes, Ojai City Hall, the Ojai Unified School District offices (which include Chaparral High School), and some commercial buildings, such as Bart’s Books.
“These are buildings the community would be upset if they were torn down,” Mullane said.
Tuesday’s meeting is expected to allow for more community input on the select properties and direction of the overall preservation effort.
“Nothing has been decided yet,” said Jolene Lloyd, OHPC chair.
The buildings identified in the effort will be given the title “priority sites for historic preservation,” which does not have the same strict project limitations as historic landmarks.
“We are not concerned about changing windows or painting buildings, we are more concerned about protecting the history of Ojai some of which has been part of Ojai for more than 100 years,” Lloyd said.
The next step will be for the Commission to establish the set rules for what property owners will have to do if they want to modify their building once it is deemed a priority site.
It may take more than six months to establish all the details, according to Mullane.
Property owners will have an opportunity to provide input if they do not want their property included on the priority site list, according to Mullane.
Visit www.ci.ojai.ca.us for more information and an agenda.
Feb. 7, 2013