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City hosts historical structure workshops

Qualifications, benefits of being labeled as historical will be covered.

May 26, 2011|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

The Heritage Committee and those who own buildings they think are worth preserving can learn how historical integrity is assessed and what perks make preservation worthwhile at two separate workshops next month.

On June 2, the city will host a California Preservation Foundation workshop on identifying and assessing the significance of a property. Then on June 16, the committee will host a free workshop on the state Mills Act, which grants incentives such as reduced property taxes and reductions in required parking, waived fees and deviations from the zoning code when remodeling. One of the speakers will be from Galvan Preservation, the consulting firm hired by the city to process applications for the agreements with the state.

"I think the workshops will clarify some issues that face the committee and the City Council," said committee member Molly Bing. "We make recommendations, but the council has overturned us on some projects that we felt very strongly about."

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The committee evaluates and advises the council on the integrity of structures that are on or should be on the city's Historic Register, a prerequisite for consideration for a Mills Act agreement with the state.

Participants of the first workshop will explore how historical structures are evaluated on the local, state and national levels.

Registration and pre-payment are required by June 1. For more information, visit http://www.californiapreservation.org or call (415) 495-0349. Admission is $150 for non-members, $115 for members.

The city negotiated a reduced rate for the Heritage Committee members, charged to the education fund.

"I think the workshop will help the Heritage Committee perform its duties," said City Councilwoman and committee liaison Verna Rollinger. "It is an educational tool, and it seems to me the committee members should not have to pay to go."

The city has a vested interest in the preservation of historic structures, locally rated E for excellent, K for key examples and C for contributory to neighborhood character, in the belief that the preserved properties help distinguish the city from other communities and foster civic pride.

But structures with Mills Act tax exemptions cost the city about $60,000 a year in revenue and special entities like the Laguna Beach Unified School District a total of $180,000 a year, City Manager John Pietig said.

When the city first participated in the Mills Act agreements with the state, only E-rated homes were eligible.

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