Re: Guest column by Larry Nokes, Nov. 25, concerning the 1981 Laguna Beach Historic Resources Inventory. There are a number of misrepresentations concerning the inventory in that column, and I wish to set the record straight concerning the inventory’s origins and conduct.
The Laguna Beach Historic Resources Inventory was conducted by Heritage Orange County, Inc. under contractual agreement with the City of Laguna Beach and the California State Office of Historic Preservation. It was conducted in accordance with guidelines developed by the California State Office of Historic Preservation. The Laguna Beach City Council accepted the Inventory “…as a listing of the best representative examples of historically significant architecture within the City,” in Resolution No. 82.111 on Dec. 21, 1982.
The City Council had appointed a historical resources advisory board, which developed the new historical element for the city’s general plan. It oversaw the work of two professional consultants, Kathy Les and Hal Thomas, who were the primary persons in developing the city’s Historical Resources Inventory. The board included a number of long-time residents such as Helen McPherson, Bea Whittlesey, and Arnold Hano, as well as representation from businesses and architects in town. June Catalano, the city planning director, was closely involved with the development of the city’s historical element and the Historic Resources Inventory as well.
It was not a “drive-by” survey. It was done on foot throughout 21 distinct neighborhoods by the consultants, their assistants, and by members of the board. When the draft inventory was completed, every property owner was notified by mail that their property would be included in the inventory in the event that at some time they wished to take advantage of special benefits available to them by putting their property on the Historic Register. Ten property owners requested that their properties not be included in the inventory, and these addresses are listed in the preliminary pages of the inventory.
Much of this information can be found in the introductory pages to the Historic Resources Inventory, available on the city’s website.
It has been over 30 years since the inventory was completed. Unfortunately, the information that a structure was listed on the Historic Resources Inventory was not always conveyed to new owners of properties, and changes have been made to structures that have affected their historic quality. However, to characterize the inventory as “debunked as neither having been prepared or maintained in accordance with California or federal law” is incorrect. It is a valid document that has to be taken into consideration in the revision of the historic ordinance.
Everyone has a right to their opinion concerning the inventory, but let’s get the facts correct!
The author, though a member of the city Heritage Committee, writes as a private citizen.