The Santa Paula Conservancy: History as a Resource

By Sheryl Hamlin

Gabriel Zamora spoke in Public Comments at the January 3, 2017 Santa Paula Council Meeting representing the newly formed Santa Paula Conservancy, a 501C3 organization. He informed the council and the audience about two projects which will potentially affect historic properties: the landscaping at Ebell Park and the demolition of the Robert Clunie House.

The Ebell Park project puts water conservation and historic preservation in conflict, both reasonable objectives. The Robert Clunie home, an irreplaceable landmark, is unfortunately a victim of bad urban design planning, he said, where too much massing has caused the problems seen today and have previously come before the council.


Gabriel Zamora

Mr. Zamora indicated that the Conservancy views these projects as opportunities to work with the council in the public interest.

From the Santa Paula Conservancy Facebook page, the following open letter to the Santa Paula Council was posted which explains more details about specific preservation details and processes of these two projects:


An Open Letter to the City Council Regarding Ebell Park and the Clunie House at 41 Palm Court:

Dear Mayor Crosswhite, Vice Mayor Gherardi, City Council Member Hernandez, City Council Member Procter, and City Council Member Garman:

The Santa Paula Conservancy wishes to bring two matters to your attention that are of concern to our Members. One is the City’s contemplated removal of the lawn at Ebell Park, and the other is the planned demolition of the Clunie House at 41 Palm Court by the Santa Paula Unified School District.

The existing lawn at Ebell Park is within the property boundary of the nationally registered Ebell Club and is included among the historic and current functions specified in the Club’s registry nomination.

Removal of the lawn is a change to a Registered California Historic Resource. An analysis by a qualified preservation professional is required to determine whether this change is consistent with the secretary of the interior’s standards and, as such, exempt under CEQA.

The Santa Paula Conservancy respectfully requests that no alteration to the lawn at Ebell Park be allowed to occur as part of the Ebell Park Irrigation System Restoration Project until such time as the City causes to be published and entered into the public record the required determination that removal of the lawn is consistent with the secretary of the interior’s standards and therefore exempt under CEQA.

The Clunie House at 41 Palm Court, formerly 311 Palm Court, is the location of a significant local or national event, the life of California Impressionist painter Robert Clunie. As such it merits nomination for landmark status and protection under Santa Paula Ordinance 816, which states that Nomination of Landmarks “shall be made to the Design Assistance Committee on a form prepared by it and may be submitted by a member of the Committee, owner of record, the Historic Preservation Commission, or the City Council.”

Santa Paula adopted Ordinance 816 on November 19th, 1984. However, it is not clear whether the City ever caused the Design Assistance Committee to prepare the form necessary for nomination of landmarks. The absence of this form effectively deprives the public and Santa Paula’s historic resources of the means for Landmark designation and protection that Ordinance 816 was adopted to establish.

The Santa Paula Conservancy respectfully requests that the City act to immediately adopt a specific resolution prohibiting any demolition, alteration, or modification of the Clunie House that has not been determined to be consistent with the requirements of a Historic Landmark Nomination for this property that has been lawfully completed by the Historic Preservation Commission of the City of Santa Paula, and that the City take any and all further actions at its discretion to cause the Design Assistance Committee to perform all of the powers and responsibilities assigned to it by Ordinance 816.

Yours Sincerely,

The Santa Paula Conservancy

Gabriel A. Zamora, President

Pamela K. Murphy, Secretary/Treasurer


The Clunie House in Santa Paula belonged to a pioneering and incomparable Southern California Impressionist. It is currently marked for demolition.

The Clunie House in Santa Paula belonged to a pioneering and incomparable Southern California Impressionist. It is currently marked for demolition.

Lawsuit over Environmental Process

Note previous announcement of lawsuit between the Santa Paula Conservancy and the San Buenaventura Conservancy against the City of Santa Paula about the environmental approval process taken in the Hardison House project with Williams Homes.

For more information about the author, visit

Get Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments