No one believes that it shouldn’t be renovated and restored to its original glory. However, the original structure never had a rooftop addition as proposed by the developer.
The building has been designated to be an important historical structure. As such, the developer asks for special consideration for things like reduced parking requirements and reduced real estate taxes. This is in exchange for restoring the building to historical standards. The historical standards for buildings like this are set forth by the National Park Service (the agency that provides guidelines nationally for historic rehabilitation of such structures). No rooftop addition would be allowed on this building under the rules and NPS interpretations. The NPS publishes something, which they call ITS. This publication Interprets the Standards, providing guidelines for projects like the Coast Inn. On the matter of rooftop additions ITS states, in part : “With regard to rooftop additions, the Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings recommend that new rooftop additions be designed so that they are inconspicuous from the public right-of-way, are set back from the primary elevation of the building, and do not damage character-defining features of the historic building. Rooftop additions are almost never appropriate for buildings that are less than four stories high.”
This may sound like a mere detail which City Council members may accept or reject, but it’s not that simple.
We tax payers are being asked to give special treatment to a building which, when done as proposed, would not comply with the Standards of an historical rehabilitation. Professional groups from all over the country have created a means by which we, as a community, can be true to the history of our locality. To create a rooftop addition on this building would create a false narrative and be an eye sore. In the eyes of a preservationist, the historical significance of the building would be greatly diminished.
Laguna Beach has distinguished itself as a community that wants to preserve its past. If we do not draw the line here, in a highly visible and historically important building, where do we draw the line? The moral authority for denying the next building owner’s request will have been irreparably compromised.
Thomas Papa, Laguna Beach