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Santa Monica Is Updating Its Historic Resource Inventory:

The City of Santa Monica has begun to update its Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) to make the most current information available to aid the City and others in making policy and development decisions.

The last time the inventory was updated was in the mid-1980’s, and currently there are about 1,350 resources that are part of the inventory. According to City documents, the “update effort will involve the exterior evaluation of all buildings in the City built through 1968” (about 11,350) to see if they should be included in the inventory. These buildings will be evaluated based upon federal, state and local criteria. The City has hired the consulting firm Jones and Stokes to assist with the process that is projected to be completed in September of 2007.

Richard Starzak, from Jones and Stokes, discussed the major portions of the process at a community meeting on December 7. The steps will be to “draft a historic context statement, compile existing historic resource inventory forms and designations, prepare GIS maps and a database, conduct field reconnaissance, prepare a final historic context statement and prepare an updated inventory.”

In addition to the context statement and inventory, the final HRI will contain the methodology, criteria and findings used to include the properties in the inventory. It will also “identify survey maintenance recommendations and identify properties that warrant re-evaluation in five years.”

Starzak explained that in the area of the City’s zoning and planning, the HRI would aid with conservation districts, historic districts, design guidelines, review, permits and the Historic Building Code, as well as California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reviews. It would also help “identify zones for redevelopment and revitalization.” For historic preservation, the HRI would be a resource for local historic designations, national, state and local register historic nominations, facilitate the use of Federal Historic Preservation Tax and help with the development/update of a preservation ordinance.

In addition, the HRI would, according to Starzak, help “develop and enforce design guidelines to retain the character of historic districts and neighborhoods, develop walking, driving and bicycle tours of historic areas, promote and develop business attractions compatible with historic districts, prescribe maintenance practices and identify compatible adaptive” reuses for structures. Information from the HRI could also be used before transportation paths are planned “to avoid adverse impacts to historic districts and neighborhoods.” Lastly, the HRI could aid in disaster planning and response because the “response to a disaster is different for historic buildings,” and it will help “prevent the demolition of buildings that could/should be preserved.”

There will be a community meeting in the spring of 2007 to discuss the preliminary results after the reconnaissance is complete, and a community meeting in the fall of 2007 to discuss the final results.

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