About two dozen San Luis Obispo homeowners and concerned citizens asked questions and voiced complaints during a workshop Thursday on a proposed ordinance that could govern how they change and keep up their properties.
The draft ordinance outlines rules and regulations for historic homes and buildings and development guidelines in historic districts — and it carries potential penalties of up to $5,000 a day or a one-time fine of up to $10,000 for violations.
The draft proposal is expected to go before the City Council on Sept. 21.
Some in attendance expressed concern about the amounts of the fines, the necessity of the guidelines given existing city housing codes, and the potential effect on property value.
“Our homes will be subjected to a different set of laws than other homes in town, simply because they are in a historical area,” said Peg Pinard, a former county supervisor and San Luis Obispo mayor who attended the meeting.
A 70-year-old woman who identified herself only as Sharon said she has lived in her historic home on Dana Street since 1974 and lives on a fixed income — much of which she uses to keep up her property. Her home was built in 1904.
She said the potential fines are unnecessary and meant to generate revenue for the city.
“I don’t see how this helps us,” she said. “I don’t mind caring for my property. But I want to do it under my free will.”
About 175 properties are included on the city’s master list of historic resources. They are structures that are deemed the most unique and important historic properties.
There are an additional 500 or so properties on the city’s list of contributing historic resources — a designation that can be applied to structures at least 50 years old that are publicly visible.
Kim Murry, the city’s deputy director of long-range planning, emphasized that fines will be issued only for significant home defects that equate to deterioration of more than 25 percent of the preserved home.
“The (ordinance) is aimed at the most egregious offense,” Murry said.
Such defects include deteriorating foundations, buckled roofs, and unsecured windows and doors, according to the proposed ordinance.
Murry said owners will have ample opportunity to comply with the ordinance before fines are issued.