Historical Resources Board
Safe for Now
Thank you for all your support during the recent crisis involving the Historical Resources Board (HRB) and the proposed 2005-2006 City of San Diego budget. All of your calls, letters and emails certainly got the attention of our elected officials. A special thank you to those who were able to attend the hearing and make public testimony. The preservation community was very well represented and each speaker made an impact. After hours of speeches and discussion, the elected officials made it evident from their comments that they realized the importance of maintaining a functioning HRB. They voted to put the staff position on a wish list of items that they would try to find funding for at the end of the entire budget process.
Unfortunately, at the final budget meeting, the Mayor and City Council were not able to find the money within the City budget to fund the HRB staff position slated for reduction, but several Council members volunteered to contribute discretionary money from their own office budgets to ensure the continued operation of the department. SOHO is sincerely grateful to Councilmembers Atkins and Peters, and former Councilmembers Inzunza and Zucchet, for pooling their monies to cover the $108,000 position for one year.
The HRB requires a minimum of four employees to function properly. The position mentioned above was actually the only slot left which was assigned specifically to the HRB. That�s why it was so important to save it. For the past two years or more, the department has been functioning by borrowing employees from other areas. With all the cuts in the planning department during this budget cycle, there will not to be anyone left that management can borrow. As a result, even though this one slot was saved, the department still needs at least three more personnel to function.
Planning department management has been working diligently to come up with a way to cover the costs of these positions. Some revenue will be collected from fees charged to property owners who are bringing their historic homes to the Development Serviced Department in order to obtain construction permits. In terms of voluntary designations, all parties involved agree that a fee is necessary to cover the costs of reviewing those homes. This fee will help fund another position within the HRB and will help to get the voluntary submissions reviewed and designated more quickly.
There are several methods of collecting these new fees under review. SOHO advocates a fee collected after the home is designated and based on a sliding scale tied to assessed property value. This fee collection mechanism will be the most fair to all parties involved and will not be seen as a barrier to designation for property owners with more modest homes. SOHO does not support a fixed, upfront fee collected before a building is designated.
Remember, the HRB is only back in business for this budget cycle. Next year the threat may reassert itself. We need to be ever vigilant to ensure that this most valuable department continues to function.
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