At its Wednesday, Jan. 9 meeting in City Hall, the San Marino City Council heard a progress report for the city-wide historic survey that’s currently underway. Mayor Dr. Steven Huang noted that the survey aids the city so that “we can preserve our neighborhoods.”
The survey was taken on at City Council direction on the completion of the historic preservation ordinance and has an approved budget of approximately $165,000, according to San Marino Planning and Building Director Aldo Cervantes.
“This is essentially step 2 or phase 2 of the historic preservation process,” said Cervantes.
The firm taking on the project of documenting all potentially historical resources is Architectural Resources Group (ARG), a company based out of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, with 38 years of experience assisting both small and large municipalities to administer historic preservation programs. Recent projects of theirs include Union Station and a 10-year survey of Los Angeles, of which they were one of several consultants.
The San Marino historic survey is meant to provide information on potential historical resources to the city and residents. Historical resources include landscape features, sites, structures and objects among other aspects. The survey will not formally designate any properties or districts outright.
“It’s not going to affect what you can do with your house,” ARG associate, architectural historian and preservation planner Mary Ringhoff told the council, in response to resident concerns.
According to Ringhoff, the survey’s information will be used to help inform planning decisions and provides a baseline of information for city planners. It will also help establish priorities for preservation, restoration and rehabilitation efforts. ARG is working alongside the San Marino Historical Society in the survey’s endeavor.
“It’s a way to get the public interested in some of these buildings, many of which people might not even realize were historic, partly because San Marino is filled with all these beautiful old buildings and people might take them for granted a little bit,” said Ringhoff. “So it’s one way to help realize the context in which these buildings were built and why they’re special.”
The work of the survey will be in two phases. The first phase, initiated in November 2018 and set to wrap up in June 2019, involves background research and a reconnaissance survey in order to craft a historic context statement, which will be reviewed by the city. The statement will be a planning document that will provide a framework to identify potential historical resources. A list will also be created that includes resources previously identified by the San Marino Historical Society, plus additional resources discovered through the survey.
The second phase, which will start at a date to be decided, involves an “intensive survey” to document all the resources within the list curated from the first phase.
In conclusion, ARG will provide a final survey report, an overview of the methodology used, a revised historical context statement, maps of all properties identified and documentation forms for all resources. A final list for all potential historical resources will be turned over to the city, which will be available to residents.
Both phases will involve opportunities for public feedback, as public participation is a key part of historical resource surveys, according to Ringhoff. During the course of both phases, findings will also be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council in public hearings. There will be at least one public outreach workshop within the next few months.
“That’s so everyone in the community can find out more about the project, share any information that may have about their own homes, or about any research they may have done, or just anything they know from growing up in the city,” said Ringhoff. “We can also address any questions or concerns they may have in these meetings.”