Historic Preservation Ordinance Review on April 5

The City’s first ever Historic Preservation Ordinance will take center stage at the April 5, 2022, Goleta City Council meeting.

After a lengthy discussion at the December 7, 2021, Public Hearing, the Council directed staff to provide the following additional information:

  1. Specific findings for each of the 29 properties proposed to be added to the Historic Resources Inventory and findings for the 6-7 properties that may be designated as Goleta Landmarks.
  2. Make refinements to the exemptions from the Archaeological and/or Tribal Cultural provisions to be simpler and clearer to the public.
  3. Provide cost estimates for different archaeological reports and provide an estimate how many of these could be required in the course of a year.

The goal of the Historic Preservation Ordinance is to preserve and protect resources that, once lost, cannot be replaced or replicated. Earlier this year (November 8), the Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance and recommended adoption. Generally, the proposed ordinance would:

  • Create a Historic Preservation Commission.
  • Create historic designation categories and establish a process to designate properties as a historic resource based on eligibility criteria.
  • Establish regulations and processes regarding alterations to designated properties, recission of designations, demolition, maintenance requirements, and Mills Act incentives to maintain designated historic resources.
  • Designate six (6) -seven (7) structures as Goleta Landmarks and place a total of 29 structures (including the 7 proposed to be Goleta Landmarks) on the inaugural Historic Resources Inventory (HRI). It is expected that the HRI will be expanded over time.
  • Establish processes and criteria when any earth-disturbing activities in native soils (i.e., previous not graded or disturbed soils) are proposed. The purpose is to check for subsurface archaeological or tribal cultural resources in order to preserve and protect these resources. A list of project types and circumstances that would be exempt from the requirements is included.
  • Establish development standards that would apply to earth-disturbing activities in case subsurface archaeological or tribal cultural resources are found during construction.
  • Add thirty-four definitions related to Historic Preservation and Archaeological and Tribal Cultural Resources to the Goleta Municipal Code.
  • Make other changes to various portions of the Goleta Municipal Code to reflect the requirements of Chapters 17.33 and 17.43 for consistency in City regulations.

The proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance includes regulations that may affect some property owners, especially property owners of designated Historic Resources. The regulations regarding Archaeological and/or Tribal Cultural Resources could potentially affect any property owners who are contemplating work involving earth-disturbing activities (i.e., trenching for utilities, digging for new foundations, etc.). The goal of the proposed regulations is to foster preservation while allowing development to occur.

In recommending adoption of the ordinance, the Planning Commission sought to balance the need to protect sensitive, buried archaeological and cultural resources with the burden on property owners. It considered this issue carefully with input from a range of stakeholders, including Goleta residents, archaeologists and historians, and Chumash Tribal representatives. 

Learn more about the project at www.HistoricGoleta.org.

Pictured: Stow House, courtesy Goleta Valley Historical Society