Santa Paula Council Approves First Historic Designation in Over Two Decades

By Sheryl Hamlin

This column has been following the Hardison property since 2014 when Williams Homes acquired the 20 acre site from the Procter estate. The originally proposed site plan consisted of 58 homes, relocated barn and all other structures and landscape removed. Read those reports here. Other responses to City Planning documents are here and here and here.

On August 21, 2019, after multiple versions of the Williams Homes site plan, a lawsuit, a new Planning Director, and a new City Council, the historic Hardison property was designated historic by the City of Santa Paula.

Gap in Planning Process and Experience

Joy Cummings, Sheryl Hamlin and Gabriel Zamora spoke in Public Comments. Gabriel Zamora, an architect and President of the Santa Paula Conservancy explained that Santa Paula had designated 17 properties between the dates of 1986 and 1996. The proposed designation of the Hardison property at 1226 Ojai Road was the first in 23 years. Mr Zamora made the point that this hiatus created a gap in the planning process and cultural/historical experience.

Mr. Zamora read the list of the 17 designated landmarked properties to the audience, which can be found here which is the Santa Paula Conservancy website. This list is not available digitally from the city’s website.

Staff Presentation

James Mason, Community Services Director, presented steps in the recent history (2019) which led up to the designation. Prior to this period, Jana Minsk was planning director from 2004 until her retirement in 2018. James Mason was Assistant Director starting in 2017 and was promoted upon her retirement.

-February 28, 2019 – Design Assistance Committee (recommended the key criteria for nomination)
-May 28, 2019 – Historic Preservation Commission (adopted Resolution No. 3798 recommending that the City Council identify the 2.19-acre remainder parcel property of the Historic Hardison Ranch at 1226 Ojai Road as a City Historic Landmark).

Staff presentation: HARDISON PROPERTY CITY LANDMARK DESIGNATION (presentation)

Williams Homes Presentation

Scott Smith, the Williams Homes Project Manager, explained the barn stabilization, house updates (complete) and relocation of the access structures. He also addressed Joy Cummings’ concerns about the large pipes and concrete sitting near the house, which, he said, will be moved to Ojai Road when they commence the infrastructure for the street.

Mr. Smith also explained the submerged detention basin which will be covered by a meadow of native flowers and roses. The name of the subdivision is Rosewood.

Scott Smith mentioned “the settlement”, but did not elaborate. Linked is Chris Williamson’s presentation enumerating the post-settlement plan which included the remainder parcel containing the Hardison home and barn in orginal locations with two auxiliary structures moved into the remainder parcel. The report on the lawsuit is here.

Barn 2019, source: staff report

 

Taylor Louden, Historic Architect

Having worked on the Will Rogers Ranch and Barn, Mr. Louden’s experience in this type of historic renovation was evident.

Williams Homes retained Taylor Louden as consultant on the renovations to the property, all of which must be performed to Department of the Interior standards for renovation. Historic renovation is a highly detailed process which involves specialists in material, construction, design , history and law. The barn stabilization has been the most difficult because the goal was to preserve the beautiful reddish beams even though the barn must be seismically stabilized. The description of the barn foundation stabilization is surgically precise. The use of helical anchors were a mark of the precision in the renovation. His presentation can be seen here at 2:22 on the video.

Hardison Barn, 2019

 

Mr. Louden said that keeping the house and barn in their original position was essential for qualifications to the National Register.

Council Questions

Council Member Sobel asked about consequences of designation for the buyer. Mr. Louden responded with “Historic Tax Credits”, but he said, the renovation must qualify under the strict federal standards, which he enumerated in his presentation.

Council Member Crosswhite asked why it took so long to get to this point. Mr. Smith answered that Williams Homes went through three iterations of the barn stabilization before finally coming to a solution. He did not elaborate on the history from 2014 to present. The Agenda Packet included the 2017 application from William Homes for the designation, so this was a valid question which has yet to be resolved.

Vote

After a motion by Council Member Crosswhite, the motion to approve resolution for the designation passed unanimously. The resolution is given below:

Approve Resolution No. 7216 designating the 2.19-acre remainder parcel (to include the main residence, barn, buildings and landscape features of the Historic Hardison Ranch at 1226 Ojai Road) as a City Historic Landmark.

Note that the house had been previously designated by the county.

Remainder Parcel for Sale

The entire 2.19 acres with the house, barn and two structures is for sale. Considering the extensive stabilization and remedying of years of damage, this should attract buyers.

To watch the video, click here.

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com


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