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Mailbag: Cultural significance important to historical designation

October 07, 2010

City Councilmember Verna Rollinger's recent commentary regarding "preservation over restoration" of historic buildings and their ability to comply with Mills Act standards disregarded the fact that historic buildings can also be evaluated based on their cultural significance to the city and not just the extent to which the original structure remains intact. ["Heisler Building gets a tax break," Coastline Pilot, Sept. 24.] The Heisler building is a perfect example of a structure that has significant cultural impacts to the city. The Heritage Committee did a fine and thorough job in evaluating the cultural aspects of the project and subsequently voted to recommend approval of the Mills Act to the City Council.

Rollinger is the City Council member liaison assigned to the Heritage Committee and therefore should be attending the Heritage Committee meetings (of which there were about 12 meetings that were never attended by Rollinger) in order to fully understand the complexity and history of the Heisler building as well as any other historical building in the city. Rollinger's attendance at the Heritage Committee meetings would have given her an awareness that the Heritage Committee weighs these issues and problems very carefully because of the fine line between the preservation and restoration of many old buildings in Laguna which are in dire need of total restoration (i.e., bringing them up to current building codes) while preserving the original architectural style/design. Restoring historical buildings is a huge and very expensive undertaking in Laguna and one to which the Heritage Committee is totally dedicated.

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Samuel and Pamela Goldstein

Laguna Beach

Editor's note: Samuel and Pamela Goldstein own the Heisler Building.

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