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Posts Tagged ‘May Monday Mythbusters’

MYTH:  Historic preservation is a violation of the rights of property-owners.  It’s “un-American.”

FACT:  This myth just doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny.  Historic preservation laws do not infringe on private property rights any more than laws that have long been enforced in communities throughout our nation.  Although we might like to believe that private property rights reign supreme, the reality is that the U.S. Constitution delegates the authority to local governments to regulate the ways in which private property may be used.  Zoning requirements often restrict property owners from building apartment complexes in single-family residential neighborhoods.  In some communities, height limitations prevent or restrict structures over two or three stories.  Density restrictions limit the number of dwelling units that can be constructed in a multiple-unit building.  Owners of condos may be prevented from owning pets, washing cars in the driveway, painting the exterior in unapproved colors, or installing a storage shed on an exposed balcony.  These limitations are far more stringent than historic preservation laws, but they are commonly accepted clauses in C C & R (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) documents.  Finally, we should all be glad that laws are firmly in place which prevent our neighbors from operating a toxic waste dump or building a skyscraper on the other side of our shared property line.

What are your thoughts on the rights of homeowners and preservation of historic resources? Let us know in the comments section below.

This is the third article in a four-part series entitled May Monday Mythbusters. Check in with us again on Monday, May 28, when we explore the benefits of historic preservation.

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC.

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MYTH:  Owners of designated historic landmark buildings are unable to make any significant changes to their properties. 

FACT:  Historic preservation laws are intended to manage change in a responsible way, not to prevent change.  The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, a nationally accepted set of guidelines for evaluating change in historic structures, specifies only that the most significant, or “character-defining” features should be preserved, and new additions to a historic building should be compatible with the existing architecture.  These Standards do not require that every doorknob and light switch be saved.  Rather, they specify that historic features that are deteriorated should be repaired if possible – while allowing for replacement when the severity of damage leaves no other reasonable option.

Have you preserved any of your home’s “character defining” features? Tell us about them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear how you preserved your home and demonstrated that character counts!

This is the second article in a four-part series entitled May Monday Mythbusters. Check in with us again on Monday, May 21, when we explore the rights of property owners.

Photo courtesy of Frozencapybara.

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All across our nation, Americans are actively engaged in efforts to save the places that make our communities special and unique.  In recognition of these many and diverse activities, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has, since 2005, declared the month of May to be National Preservation Month.  We invite you to join this year’s celebration here at home!

We are honoring National Preservation Month with a project designed to raise awareness about the need for adoption of an historic preservation ordinance in Alhambra.  Each Monday in May, we’ll post a new installment of our Mythbusters series.  Much of what passes for “information” on historic preservation is actually just rumor, speculation and myth.  We’d like to set the record straight, and we encourage you to use the factual information you will discover here to educate and inform your friends, neighbors and community leaders.

Each and every individual can make a difference in changing public policy.  If you care about the protection of Alhambra’s unique and irreplaceable buildings and neighborhoods, we invite you to join with us to make historic preservation a vital element of our city’s General Plan.

Check in with us again on Monday, May 7th for the first installment of May Monday Mythbusters.  You’ll be glad you did!

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