There were two important meetings last night.
First is the previously mentioned meeting to discuss the possible closure of Monroe Street at Orange Grove. This meeting was held with the city public works department at the Ebell Museum and saw approximately 20 residents of the 2-block long Monroe Street in attendance.
The city showed three possible alternatives for consideration. The problem on Monroe is that it is a short street that does not go directly through the neighborhood. It goes a block and curves back onto McKinley Avenue and is used as a high-speed short cut for a lot of folks, many of whom also run the stop sight at Bradford.
The first alternative was to create a "traffic diversion" at the intersection of Monroe and Bradford. This would force any car, coming from any direction, to make a right turn when they came to that corner. My own take on this was that it would probably stop the cut-through traffic, but would also cause difficulty for those who were trying to get around in the neighborhood.
The second alternative was to close Monroe to traffic coming off of Orange Grove traveling east, but allow traffic to exit the neighborhood when travelling west onto Orange Grove. This would certainly stop the cut-through traffic, as most of it is coming off of Orange Grove, not going onto Orange Grove, which is difficult to make turns onto at that point.
The third alternative was to completely close off Monroe and create Lincoln Park's only cul-de-sac. This would completely eliminate traffic in the 100 block of Monroe, except for residents.
The residents offered other alternatives such as enhanced signage with flashing lights, or creating an "island" at the very wide entrance to Monroe from Orange Grove to slow traffic down as it enters the neighborhood.
This now goes for further study with the input from the residents and city staff has promised another meeting to further discuss these issues, expanding the notification to other surrounding streets that might be impacted.
The other meeting of the night was a special study session of the Pomona Historic Preservation Commission. This meeting, which was not very well noticed (Pomona Heritage received information on it in Tuesday's mail), was called to discuss three items, 1) Possible changes to the Mills Act, 2) Fencing in the historic districts, and 3) Alternative materials for windows in the historic districts.
Mills Act. The Mills Act allows citizens in historic buildings to have their property taxes recalculated so that they might have significant savings, up to 40%, to apply toward preservation and maintenance of the historic nature of the property. This is used by many cities to encourage residents to keep their properties in good shape and conform to historic standards. The citizen enters into a contract with the city that they will do certain things with their tax savings which are put directly into the structure. Pomona's version of the Mills Act was so onerous that to qualify you had to spend 10 years worth of savings within the first five years, making it a financial burden rather than a saving, and projects were very restricted. The city is looking to bring Pomona's Mills Act to be more like other cities who have successfully used it as a tool for preservation of their historic neighborhoods.
Fencing. With the city adopting the "picket fence" program and updating fence codes citywide, there is a move to amend to the historic ordinance to ensure that fencing within the historic districts is not out of character with the historic nature of the districts. It would, like the rest of the city, restrict the use of chain link and "garbage materials," as well as suggesting that more modern materials such as vinyl would be out of place in the historic setting.
Windows. This is a major issue for the city council. The historic ordinance says that repairs to historic buildings should use similar materials to the original. However, the current "fad" is for vinyl windows which are not similar in any way to the materials on our historic homes. Use of such materials would take structures from contributing status to non-contributing status under state and federal historic guidelines. The problem is that all over the city, people are putting in new windows without getting permits. In non-historic areas, when this is caught, the homeowner has only to pull a permit retroactively and they're done, but in historic districts, because of the requirements for maintaining the historic integrity of the buildings, thy need to come into conformance with the rules of the ordinance. So a large number of these cases, where unpermitted work was done, come before the commission and ultimately before the city council. Residents moan and cry about the cost of coming into compliance and it is a bad situation all 'round. So, the city council asked if alternative materials could be considered. However, it is Pomona Heritage's stance that the ordinance and the Secretary of the Interior's guidelines are clear and that alternative materials would have a significant effect on the historic character of the districts.
All of these issues will now be discussed at a special City Council workshop scheduled for next Monday, Feb. 25. I certainly hope that those interested will attend and add their voices to the debate (on either side fo the issues).