Supervisor Scott Wiener Says Historic Preservation Is Overbearing
|Preserving the future|
It was a good thing for San Francisco when voters in 2008 passed Proposition J -- a measure pushed by then-Supervisor Aaron Peskin -- which elevated the Historic Preservation Commission from an advisory body to one that wields real authority.
Just as there is such a thing as too much development, there can also be too much preservation. In the last year alone, historic preservation advocates have been running around town trying to mark libraries, buildings, trees, and parks as historic.
More recently, the city hired consultants to survey properties citywide and decide what they thought was historically significant. Consultants looked at buildings built more than 50 years ago, but as some developers pointed out, that doesn't necessarily mean they are historically significant.
In other words, the term "historic" has become so broad that it touches almost every neighborhood, hindering development and creating new expenses for property owners. The issue has been bubbling under the political surfaces at City Hall, where some are calling it a power grab in the name of preservation.
Commissioners last week started reviewing the surveys, using them as a tool to create widespread historic districts.
Supervisor Scott Wiener took the bold step today,
calling for a hearing to rein in the heavy-handed preservationists
before they stamp out important development. He pointed
out that there are efforts to preserve parts of Dolores Park that
desperately needs renovation.
In SOMA, developers are clamoring to build in one of the most ripe areas for redevelopment. Yet consultants have deemed more than 600 properties there as significant, which would mean developers would have to jump through hoops and spend millions of dollars on construction there.
It's not just a developer issue. Homeowners in the Mission are finding that their homes are being deemed historic. That would burden them with extra expenses, and force them to go through the Historic Preservation Commission before making any changes to their homes.
"You'd have to keep up with the preservation Joneses," said Joshua Arce, with the Bright Line Defense Project, a community advocate organization. "It puts a cost on preserving your home."
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