Owners of historic homes in San Luis Obispo who badly neglect their properties will not face steep penalties after all.
The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday directed staff to eliminate the proposed penalties associated with demolishing historic resources, according to Kim Murry, the city’s deputy director of long-range planning.
The fines would have been set at up to $5,000 a day for ongoing violations and the possibility of a one-time fine up to $10,000 per violation.
“There was a conflict between public interest and private property rights,” Councilman Andrew Carter said. “We didn’t feel that line dividing the two had been drawn correctly.”
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Carter said the city doesn’t want to unfairly penalize homeowners struggling to make expensive improvements during trying financial times.
Some community members had expressed concern that the ordinance unfairly targets owners of historic homes and would give the city too much control over their properties.
Revised drafts showing the changes to the historic preservation ordinance will be posted for the public to review Oct. 19; the council will discuss it Nov. 9.
The proposed ordinance defines procedures and standards for preserving historic buildings within city limits.
About 175 properties are included on San Luis Obispo’s master list of “historic resources” — those structures that are deemed unique and most important properties. There are 500 or so additional 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.
All of those properties, including buildings in San Luis Obispo’s five historic districts, fall under the proposed ordinance.
The proposed fines were purposely set high to deter owners from allowing their historic properties to go to extreme neglect — which in turn might lead to demolition because of safety concerns, such as buckled roofs and cracked foundations, Murry told The Tribune in a previous interview.