Wednesday, August 13, 2008

this old house

K. and I are pretty tied to our morning ritual of coffee, (rapidly-declining) newspaper, and geeking out with our laptops, but we made an exception on saturday so as not to miss any historical goodness at the Pomona Heritage Restoration Workshop.

The first and last thing I want to say is hurrah for PH, Mark Gearhardt (sp.?), and all the folks who helped him pull off a great event. Snarky sarcasm may be my natural mode, but watch me get all Pollyanna about how lucky we are to have this annual do. I love the workshops; I love the fact that the roster changes each year, so there's always something new to learn; I love spending the day with like-minded fellow Pomoniacs. The only thing I don't love is walking into the house afterwards and thinking, à la Bette Davis, "What a dump!"

Breakfast snacks were provided by the Pomona Baking Company, and they were quite tasty. Loaves of bread were also for sale, and they looked great.

Here's what I went to:

Mills Act
Judy and Sandra from the city planning did a full walk-through of applying for Mills Act tax relief. In case you've been out of state for the last year, the Mills Act is a state measure that cuts your property taxes 40-60% or so if you contract to spend the savings on historically-appropriate improvements to the property (inside or out).

I learned a few important things. For one thing, I hadn't realize that the amount of tax savings is predetermined by a whole bunch of factors that are ultimately derived from the value of the property. I had assumed that it was the other way around -- that one decides how much work one wants to put into the house and that one then applies for that amount of tax remission. Not so: through the "capitalization of income" method, you figure out the tax savings, and then you're responsible for coming up with that amount of work.

Judy, particularly, was very articulate in stressing that you need to think carefully before entering into a Mills Act contract. Each contract lasts a minimum of 10 years, and it goes with the house, so that any future buyer is required to abide by its terms. This can be either a really big boon for a new buyer (woo hoo, biiiiiig tax savings!) or a big PitA (ugh, legal compulsion to finish construction). Still, it's a pretty sweet deal, if not right for everyone.

Code Compliance
Judy and Sandra were joined by the head of code enforcement for a session on code compliance. At least half the time was taken up by folks' specific issues ("Why did I get cited for the 70-foot wind turbine in my back yard?"), but I also learned some interesting general principles.

For one thing, I had no idea that the code enforcement folks are on duty seven days a week (except holidays -- "The city can't pay us overtime"). Also, time after time, we were encouraged to go down and talk with the planning office about things -- including "I wouldn't tell them your address until they say you won't be fined." I didn't know that getting work permitted after the fact costs double, although there may be some latitude if you're trying to make good on a previous owner's negligence. In general I got the impression that they're really eager to help us out, and I for one will take them up on it.

Oh yeah: Permit fees are going up significantly on September 5, so get all those permits pulled now, folks!

Mid-Century Modern Furniture
I confess I didn't learn much about mid-century modern furniture, but it was really interesting to have Kate Thornton give us an insider's look at what it's like to be a mid-century fanatic. She mostly talked about appliances and architecture, rather than furniture. And she's clearly very generous with her time and resources if you're a mid-century devotee too.

Plaster Repair
K. went to this session last year, so I thought it would be good to get some insight into the matter myself. We don't have any immediate plaster issues, but our house is all plaster, and I will forever be haunted by the giant piece of plaster, the size of a medium-heavyweight boxer, that sat on the floor in my parent's bedroom for half my childhood. If only I'd known then what I know now, I would have said, "Daddy, it's no good saving that! Just go buy some mud and taping compound and make a new patch."

Other random tidbits:
We met the new owners of the Eddie Cortez house, who after only a week have already gotten the house looking better than it has since we moved to town, despite the fact that the usual no-goodniks had stripped it of all its plumbing, crapped in the rooms, and wrought other repo-related misdeeds. Hats off to them for rescuing a piece of our history!

Someone told me that GoP's husband was passing out GoP bumper stickers, but I didn't get one. No matter; my bumper is too full of YAY, RESTORATION WORKSHOP! decals.


me said...

My husband is laughing that there are vicious rumors being spread about him!! We actually weren't at the workshop, so I'm sure that must have been Richard the photographer.

And yeah, in the end, after being so excited about the Mills Act coming to town, we decided it was definitely not for us.

G of P

ren said...

yes it was me richard or ren as i like to be called.i was there taking some pictures for the goddess and yes i was handing out bumber stickers,sorry i couldnt give everyone a sticker just had a few,looks like am going to have to print some more up.Hey Goddess whats piggy bank say we have enough pennies for more stickers lol.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for all the wonderful feedback on the restoration workshop. It is nice to hear that you were able to attend. I wish more Pomona residents would attend and make use of this free event. Some times it is a bit disappointing to see the low attendance levels because these functions take a lot of time and work from the committee. All and all it was quite successful.

Next years workshop will fall on August 8th (always the 2nd Saturday of August). If you have any suggestions or there is a session that you would like to suggest feel free to contact the PH Board.

PH Member

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I missed PH. :(

I was recently able to try the goodies at Pomona Bakery. They are delicious!!