The first-ever historic city-wide historic survey of San Marino has completed its first phase and will soon be moving into its second and final phase, according to a presentation to the San Marino City Council at City Hall on Sept. 11. The survey has so far identified numerous potential historic resources in properties and collections of properties, known as districts, around the city. The second phase will involve a more intensive survey of properties.
The project, which was authorized by the council in Nov. 2018 and kicked off in January, is a collaboration with city staff and consultant Architectural Resources Group (ARG). The survey is to be used to inform planning decisions, establish priorities for preservation, serve as a baseline of information for city planners and strengthen appreciation for the built environment, according to ARG Associate Mary Ringhoff.
She noted that a common misconception that properties would be automatically nominated as a historic resource through the survey, which is not the case. San Marino requires owner consent for properties or districts to be officially designated as historic resources.
“This survey does not designate anything as a landmark, whether it’s an individual property or a historic district,” said Ringhoff. “All it does is identify both individual properties and groupings of properties, or districts, which are potential eligible for listing on the local state or national levels.”
The first phase involved background research of properties and districts, drafting a historic context statement, a reconnaissance survey and refinement of a property list. This information can be found on the city’s website cityofsanmarino.org. The information can be found by visiting the Planning and Building Department’s page under City Government from the homepage.
The second phase, which is set to take around six months to complete, will involve diving deeper into the documentation of properties already noted as potential historic resources and an intensive survey. The documentation will be conducted along the public right of way and will not involve entering private property.
“This process is very fluid and very dynamic,” said Ringhoff. “We’re adding things to the property list all the way through Phase 2.”
The survey to date has identified nine potential historic districts, three historic commercial planning districts along Huntington Drive and Mission Street, 276 individual institutional/residential/commercial buildings and around 16 non-parcel resources, which include bridges, street lights, street trees and medians. Ringhoff shared that the survey also noted the Cooper Ranch House as the oldest extant building in the city, the 1910 Patton House shows important patterns of early development in the city and there is also an air raid siren from 1942 behind a building on Mission Street.
“This is really where local residents have helped us the most in filling in these gaps because we can recognize a beautiful house when we see if but we don’t always know who lived there, so that’s been really, really helpful,” said Ringhoff.
Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey requested additional updates to be provided to residents, as the map of properties had yet to be updated since the last posting to the city’s website in June.
“That would be great to be more open and transparent as the progress is going, particularly right now, because it has been a while,” said Shepherd Romey.
Resident Shirley Jagels also spoke to the council to request more information, noting that no physical copies of the preliminary survey results had been available at City Hall or the Crowell Public Library until this week.
Shepherd Romey requested that updates on the progress of the survey be added to the email community newsletter of the city, available through the city’s website. There are also plans for ARG’s PowerPoint presentation to be uploaded to the city’s website for viewing.
Residents are encouraged to reach out to Aldo Cervantes, director of planning and building, with any information they may have on the historical significance of a property within San Marino. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 300-0710.