Friday, October 17, 2008

Candidates Answer Preservation Questions

Pomona Heritage has just posted the responses to the candidate questionnaires regarding issues of importance to the historic preservation community on their web site (www.pomonaheritage.org). The 5 questions were sent to all 8 candidates for Mayor, and the council candidates for District 1 (which includes Wilton Heights Historic District), District 4 (which includes Lincoln Park National Register Historic District), and District 6 (which includes Hacienda Park Historic District).

UPDATE (10/22 -- 7:45 am): We now have responses from: councilman Stephen Atcheley, running for reelection in District 6, Virgilio (JoJo) Pico Doniza, running for District 1 council seat vacated by George Hunter, Primo Castro running for District 4, Carol Schlaepfer running for District 6, councilperson Paula Lantz running for re-election in District 4, and George Hunter running for Mayor. As others are received, they will be added in the order in which they were received.

While we don't expect that you should make your decisions in these important races based on a single issue, it's always good to understand where the candidates stand on the issues that directly affect you.

It is our hope that the discourse about specific issues will help to create an informed electorate. Be sure to vote on November 4!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the questionnaire:

"How would you mitigate the impact of the state’s “Granny Flats” laws on historic districts?"

Why is there a presumption of impacts?

Lilian

John Clifford said...

When a granny flat is built, it increases rental property within a historically single family neighborhood. While this may not be what is initially the case, as granny passes on, the unit becomes rental property. If you read the act, it's actually a way of increasing density in traditionally single-family neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Ok...increasing density. But how does this impact a historic neighborhood?

Are these units allowed at the front of the property? On top of the existing house? Designed to not compliment the existing home?

Lilian

I'll read the Assembly Bill.

John Clifford said...

Lillian,

The question was about mitigating impacts. The impacts of density can have a great effect on historic neighborhoods. Not only is there the potential of changing the historic feel of the neighborhood (by moving from all single-family homes, most owned, to a lot of rental property), but remember that older neighborhoods have older infrastructure. Thus, water, sewage, power, etc. are impacted and can impact the entire neighborhood. Then upgrades to accommodate increased density might have impacts as well (just look at the ugly street-side boxes for the FIOS network that was put in), including tearing up streets, affecting plantings, etc.

As for where granny flats can be built and their integration to the neighborhood, that is pretty much covered in the historic ordinance. Any new construction would be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission to ensure that it blended into the "historic fabric" of the district. New units would have to be to the back of property and could not be more than something like 30% of the size of the original structure, nor cover a percentage of the lot.

I hope that this answers your question. I hope that the candidates can give us some insights into their thinking of what they feel the impacts will be.

Anonymous said...

Johhn,

So…the impacts are in regards to changing the historic “feel” of the Historic neighborhood (sounds discriminatory already) and the old infrastructure. Well…the infrastructure is not from the same eras as the homes (1920’s), it is much newer, and besides the City’s “Granny Unit” regulations require that it tap in to the existing utilities of the home, not to create new meters and connections at the street. I guess if infrastructure is the issue you are probably also against additions to the home, since those may have impacts too right? I made a call into the City and they were very informative about this topic. Did you know that since the “granny unit” regulations have taken into effect, maybe since 2003 (can’t recall the exact date given to me), they can't recall a granny unit built in Hacienda Park or Lincoln Park…hmmm…where are all those impacts?

By the way, why is this an issue now if these laws are not new?

Lilian

calwatch said...

Basically this is a reaction that some people have against density. Well, the problem is, that more and more people are coming to Southern California. With the housing bust, you are going to see more and more rental properties, and John's opposition to rental properties is moot since there are no restrictions in our neighborhoods against rentals (although it would be nice if the City enforced the rule that states that landlords need to get a business license). You need to accommodate density to meet your compliance with state and regional regulations. Pomona's current laws are adequate to prevent the wholesale destruction of communities that some fear.

Anduhrew said...

without renting there would be no Regen Co-op. The Co-op is one of the most progressive and forward thinking communities in southern California, providing a place for college students to afford living expenses as well as be environmentally friendly with a net zero energy usage on the home as well as other sustainable living practices(practicing what one preaches is usually a good thing). all the while preserving, and rehabilitating the homes they use(minus the addition of solar panels).

Anonymous said...

Only two candidates have taken the time to respond to the questions - pretty unfortunate to my way of thinking.

As for the granny flat issue, Calwatch brings up some good points. However from my personal experience, the city is doing an excellent job of enforcing the business license requirement on rental property owners.....a notice is sent upon taking title to the property and the license is billed every year.

John Clifford said...

Lilian: My most sincere apology for adding the extra L to your name. I more than deserve the extra H.

First, We've just added the responses from District 4 candidate Primo Castro to the Pomona Heritage website and we've heard from a few others that responses are on the way and they will also be added as we receive them.

Now to the issues:

Our question regarding granny flats was NOT a suggestion that all granny flats are bad, that we don't want any of them, or that we're anti-renter. The question was how candidates might mitigate effects on the neighborhood. Lilian asked what effect granny flats might have, and I responded with concerns that we've heard.

Regarding renters: Cal is correct in that rentals are allowed. No one is suggesting that they not be allowed. However, there is a tipping point for neighborhoods that has a direct negative impact (this is me talking now, not Pomona Heritage). When a neighborhood loses its "owner-occupied" majority, it tends to go downhill. We can look at many examples in Pomona and neighboring communities. The potential problem with granny flats is that we might reach that tipping point. Those who rent, while wonderful people -- I was a renter for a very large part of my life -- don't have the same investment in their homes and neighborhoods as those who own.

Although it might be more fair to ask if increased rental property has a negative impact on neighborhoods, there is, indeed, a presumption that it does. This is always the argument that condos are so much preferred to apartments, because of the investment by owners over renters.

Lilian: We DO understand that at this time there have been no requests for granny flats in the historic neighborhoods. However, we've seen a couple of examples of older homes in the areas outside the neighborhoods where such projects have been done and have resulted in projects that have had impacts on neighborhoods (at least to the point where the neighbors are quite upset). In at least one case, the granny flat was over-sized for the property and it has impacted views in the neighborhood and caused parking issues. Again, our question was not if this should have been allowed or not, but how these effects should be mitigated.

Historic Feel and Discrimination: The use of the word discrimination takes this argument into a whole difficult area. In what way is maintaining a historic neighborhood feel discriminatory and who does it discriminate against? The property rights folks will respond that they have the right to do anything with their property regardless of the neighborhood and that not allowing them to fully utilize their property is "discrimination."

My person response to this is that we have zoning and historic preservation issues specifically to protect neighborhoods. People buy into areas for a variety of reasons. They can afford it, it has desirable views, it is safe, it has good schools, etc. In our historic neighborhoods, people tend to purchase because they want to live in older homes, in a quiet single family environment where the can raise a family. So in these cases, whose "rights" prevail? Again, the way that the rules are written (for good or evil) is that the city can determine how you use your property. Where you can have commercial development, where you can have housing, what density that housing can be, etc. Unfortunately, the state in the granny flat issue has decided to override the city's right (which Cal will tell us is their "right") and told us the we have to accept higher density in historically low density areas.

Again, to the discrimination argument, some might argue that keeping lower density is discriminatory against those who can't afford to move into those areas. But the truth is that economic discrimination is the bulwark of the capitalistic system. Those who can afford it get to live in low density areas, those who can afford it get to drive nicer cars (and in the case of tollways to drive faster than everyone else), those with money get to choose their medical care, etc.

Remember, this response is not an official Pomona Heritage response but is my own opinions on these subejects.

calwatch said...

And John, it is disappointing that you don't understand the state's and the region's interest in increasing density. If you believe SCAG, they have constantly harped on six million more people coming into Southern California over the next 25 years. That number is constant no matter which Regional Transportation Plan you look at. And contrary to what some might think, most of these individuals are not immigrants from other states or other countries, but are our children and grandchildren.

You need a balanced method of accommodating all of these people. One way is to improve public transportation and let people live closer to transit, which is why I support Measure R, which will bring us the transit we need to give people options other than getting stuck in traffic. But you also need appropriate and gradual increases in density. The amount of space a granny flat adds is not much more than a garage, and of course we know of tons of garage conversions in Pomona. At least these granny flats come with parking requirements and meet safety codes, unlike those illegal garage conversions. The standards in Pomona are reasonable and cover most of the egregious cases of McMansioning and over-massing of buildings. I urge anyone not familiar with Pomona's code to read it for yourself (PDF page 40) to see how detailed Pomona's standards are. The exterior design must be similar to the existing house, an additional parking space is required, no independent hookups for utilities are allowed, and the second unit must not exceed 750 feet. Yes, someone can rent out the second unit to a boarder, but with the economy in crisis, a lot more people are renting out rooms to strangers now, and nobody can stop that either.

No one is suggesting that Pomona turn into Houston, which has no zoning whatsoever. If a community wanted stricter rules, they can certainly band together and create CC&R's to restrict second units, satellite dishes, clotheslines, and all the other stuff that annoys them. The citizens of this state have determined, through their representatives, that private property rights can be balanced with the healthy of our communities, and we should respect the spirit of those decisions made, rather than trying to change them piecemeal city by city, creating a hodgepodge of rules that the state law was designed to reduce.

John Clifford said...

Cal,

Very eloquently stated, as usual. However, we disagree about a few of the basics in your argument. While you view city control as "change them piecemeal city by city, creating a hodgepodge of rules that the state law was designed to reduce," I see city control as being more in tune to a given location's specific needs.

Pomona is not Hesperia, Fontana, or Rancho, where they have plenty of land available for development. We don't have large areas of undeveloped land to accommodate increased population density. The city is pretty much a built-out city. The best we can hope for is in-fill projects and demolition of blighted areas (ah, demolition). Increasing density in such a case increases all of the negatives and diminishes the positives in an area. There are many studies that show that the more densely populated we are, the higher suicide rates, crime rates, and mental health problems we engender. While I'm not suggesting that we've reached that point, I'm not sure that our infrastructure can support more population. I'm not just talking about aging infrastructure, but police protection, water (so is there a water crisis or not?), power, parks, etc.

And I don't think that I'm alone on this one. The last city general plan called for massive amounts of densification in South Pomona (which I opposed also) which is one of the things that councilmember Carrizosa and I have agreement. Why are we encouraging 6 million more in population? In this instance I believe that SCAG has it all wrong!!! So I know that we'll have to disagree on this one.

John Clifford said...

Pomona Heritage has just added the comments of Carol A. Schlaepfer, candidate for city council from District 6, to its page of candidate responses to 5 questions regarding historic preservation.

John Clifford said...

PH has justed received and added the responses of George Hunter.

Anonymous said...

Been out of town this week, so had to read David Allen on line. We should be impressed, because it looks like more folks read this blog than read his, or his article! The article was, as always, great humor, but check out the comment. Not so funny...and this Rothman guy wants to be Mayor!

kate valdez said...

Does anyone know if the YMCA on Garey has historic designation? I spoke to Jane Taylor, the CEO, about
having it designated and she said she thought it was already listed. If not, I'd like to start the process.

Kate Valdez