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  City Council Comes Through During National Preservation Month
May 19, 2005

The Richmond City Council confirmed its dedication to preserving Richmond’s cultural resources during National Preservation Month (May) and Richmond’s Centennial Year by unanimously adopting two important measures. The first is an amendment to Richmond’s Historic Structures Code that will reorganize and reinvigorate the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. The second is a resolution that enables the City to enter into Mills Act contracts with owners of historic properties to provide property tax reductions.

Comprehensive information on both programs is in the attached PDF files. Applicants are being sought for the new seven-member Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, the qualifications for which are:

Members shall have documented experience, education and/or commitment related to historic preservation, be nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Council. The term of each member and alternate shall be four years, with the initial appointments randomly staggered so that four members have a four-year term and three members have a two-year term. Board members shall include two representatives from the community at-large and five representatives from the following associations, commissions, boards, committees, and community organizations. Members shall have demonstrated an interest and pertinent experience in historic preservation issues, and ideally includes at least one architect, landscape architect and general building contractor;

(1)  Richmond Museum Association;

(2) Point Richmond History Association;

(3) Richmond Planning Commission;

(4) Design Review Board;

(5) Rosie the Riveter Trust;

(6) Richmond Arts and Cultural Commission;

(7) Contra Costa County Historical Society;

(8) Richmond Chamber of Commerce;

(9) American Institute of Architects

(10) Society of Architectural Historians

Application forms may be obtained from the City Clerk or downloaded from:

http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/cityclerk/Commissions/BOARD%20OR%20COMMISSION%20APPLICATION%20FORM.pdf. Applications should be turned in to the City Clerk.

If you want a detailed and comprehensive description of cultural resource preservation in Richmond, email me and I will send you a large PDF file.

Update and Reorganization of the Richmond Historic Preservation Advisory Committee

Tom Butt, Richmond City Council Member

The Historic Structures Code, Chapter 6.06, was adopted by the City Council on November 23, 1999, as Ordinance 60-99. It has been amended twice. The first amendment was Ordinance 10-00 on April 4, 2000, which expanded the number of at-large members from one to two. The second amendment was Ordinance 10-01 April 10, 2001, which set the terms of officers and meeting attendance requirements.

The Historic Structures Code emerged in 1999 as a convergence of two important policy initiatives by the City of Richmond.

  1. The first was the turnover of Point Molate from the Navy to the City of Richmond. Point Molate includes Winehaven Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nancy Kaufman, who was Planning Director in 1998-99, knew that if Richmond could become a Certified Local Government for historic preservation, it would facilitate processing of discretionary approvals, entitlements and CEQA review for historic buildings at point Molate. In order to apply for Certified Local Government status, a city must have an approved and operational historic preservation ordinance.
  2. The second was the prospect for what became Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historic Park. In 199, the National Park Service was finalizing its feasibility study, and the legislation was starting through Congress. The National Park Service wanted some commitments from the City of Richmond before fully committing its resources and advocacy for the national park. One of the commitments requested was for Richmond to adopt a historic preservation ordinance.

When the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC) was organized in 2000, the City Manager assigned Library Director Joe Green to provide staffing for two reasons:

  1. Joe volunteered, and he rationalized that since the City’s involvement in the Richmond Museum of History fell under the Library’s control, and;
  2. There was a logical nexus with historic preservation.

Later, the City Council authorized a contract with Nancy Stoltz to provide historic preservation consultation. Working with Stoltz, Joe Green effectively staffed the (HPAC) until the spring of 2003, when he left for Kansas City and Nancy Stoltz’ contract expired. The last meeting of the HPAC was February 24, 2003.

After Joe Green left, it was thought that Planning would be the logical department to inherit the staffing responsibility for the HPAC, but that interest did not develop.  

The current members of the HPAC were appointed September 19, 2000, and their terms technically expired on September 19, 2002. In the existing ordinance, members are to be appointed from specified organizations. There are at least four unfilled vacancies, and one of the organizations no longer exists.

Unfortunately, the HPAC has become dormant due to no staff support, not enough holdover members to constitute a quorum and no new appointments.

In order to revive the HPAC, The implementing ordinance was changed on May 17 to accomplish several objectives: 

  1. Membership. Redefined the requirements for membership on the committee and provided more flexibility in the selection of members.
  2. Certified Local Government. In order for the State of California to recognize the City of Richmond as a “Certified Local Government,” the committee/commission/board must have a slightly more proactive role in discretionary review of projects involving historic resources. In 2003, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) agreed that the committee/commission could fulfill that requirement by having a “Design Review Committee” that would provide non-binding review recommendations to the Planning Commission and Design Review Board for projects involving historic resources.