Title 20 is the City of Riverside’s set of rules and guidelines that provide for the management of Cultural Resources (historic districts, landmarks, and other historic places). Improvements that will strengthen historic preservation have been in the works for a couple years, and are now heading to final approval at City Council on Tuesday, January 23 at 3:30 pm as Agenda Item 12.
Among many proposed changes, one hot-button issue is inaccurately described as “removal of owner consent.” Here’s what that means: currently, a property in Riverside can only receive a Cultural Heritage Board landmark designation if the owner nominates it, or if they cooperate with a third-party nomination. The proposed change would allow for anyone to recommend a property to the CHB, and the property owner would then weigh in with their thoughts. If the owner objects to landmark designation, CHB could vote to send the discussion to City Council for review. Council would discuss, then could vote to override the owner’s objection if there is a finding that the “structure is of unique value” to the community. The property would then either be landmarked or determined as eligible for eventual landmark designation.
This is a revision to the existing process that will allow for more conversations and involvement – for the property owner and for the community – than what we have now. And of course, landmark status allows the property owner access to the tax savings of the Mills Act. Owners are already required to protect cultural resources, and countless legal cases all the way to the Supreme Court on this matter have established a community’s needs outweigh those of an individual property owner. So there is no loss of rights being proposed – only a more robust process.
Old Riverside Foundation has reviewed and fully supports the proposed changes to Title 20. Our recommendation is that City Council adopts all the changes and policy recommendations as presented.
This is a time for those who care about historic preservation to get involved. We ask that you call or write your Ward’s council member and (and if you are able), attend the City Council meeting to hear the discussion and provide input via public comment on what is important to you. You can make a three-minute public comment in person at the meeting, e-comment prior to January 23 at 11:00 am, or call (951) 826-8686 during the meeting. Please familiarize yourself with the proposed changes (outlined in brief in the Staff Report) and help strengthen Riverside’s historic property protections.