Historic Resource Ordinance

Historic Resource Inventory & Local Register

Why did the City of Dana Point enact the Historic Resource Ordinance? The purpose of the Historic Resource Inventory and Local Register is to preserve the city’s rich history and physical location as mentioned in the City of Dana Point General Plan when our City of Dana Point was incorporated. The ordinance established a program for property owners of qualifying structures to request inclusion on the Dana Point Historic Local Register. Letters were sent to the owners of historic buildings in March 2001 informing them of the opportunity to apply. The Mills Act, adopted by the California Legislature in 1976, authorizes local governments to grant property tax relief to owners of qualified historic properties. Programs such as this exist in San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Santa Barbara and other communities throughout California and the nation.

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Auditorium, now Renaissance Cafe

Why would the owner of a historic building want to apply? Properties on the Historic Register are eligible for certain incentives to help compensate the owner for the preservation costs of their historical structures. Historic designation of a structure commits the property owners to uphold the historical attributes of their structure in exchange for development standard flexibility and financial incentives, such as waived permit fees for an addition or rehabilitation as well as the Mills Act property tax abatement program. Some historic property owners have had their property taxes reduced by as much as half of the original amount. Others have saved hundreds of dollars on permit fees.

The City of Dana Point Planning Department has a newly revised Historic Resource Application available to the owners of historic buildings. The application simply asks the owner to elaborate on how the structure contributes to the unique urban quality of a downtown, or how the structure contributes to the architectural continuity of the street. Other points that could qualify a building include identification with a person who significantly contributed to the culture or development of the city, state or nation, or how the structure is an illustration of historic development in California , either locally or regionally. The architecture of the building could illustrate the original integrity of a given period in the State or national history or could be an example of a unique design or detail such as materials, windows, landscaping, plaster finishes and architectural innovation. Interesting 1920s photographs of existing Woodruff buildings in the Dana Point Historical Society archives illustrate age, unique design and architectural style.

The partial listing of unique architectural and historic elements above immediately brings to mind two of the numerous examples of unique buildings in Dana Point: The Renaissance Café and the Up Sports buildings. Both buildings contribute to the unique urban quality of the downtown, the architectural continuity of the street and both are associated with Sidney Woodruff, the developer of Hollywoodland and Dana Point. Of course, the architecture of these and other buildings in Dana Point had its origin in the 1915 Panama California Exhibition that created San Diego’s Balboa Park and resulted in the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of California.

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33905 El Encanto

The City of Dana Point Planning Commission has recently approved two additional Woodruff era homes to the City’s Historic Local Register. Both homes are located on El Encanto Avenue. The addition of these two homes brings the total number of buildings on the Historic Register to 21 out of 75 potential buildings listed on the City of Dana Point Historic Inventory . Seven homes have been added to the Historic Register since September 2005. Four of these 21 homes have recently completed applications for the Mills Act property tax abatement program and approval has been tentatively set for the City Council to take action on the Mills Act contracts at the City Council meeting of January 15, 2008. If approved, there will be a total 16 Historic Register buildings on the Mills Act contract. There are a few other Woodruff era buildings in Dana Point that were inadvertently omitted from the 1997 Aegis Survey and additional homes and buildings could qualify if the owner can demonstrate that the structure helps retain the characteristics of the Dana Point (or Capistrano Beach) of over 50 years ago.

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33912 El Encanto

What is the status of historic buildings in Dana Point’s Town Center area? Members of the DPHS Historic Preservation Committee made several presentations in August 2005 regarding the preservation of the nine remaining commercial historic structures in Dana Point ’s Town Center. The Town Center Committee recommended that all identified structures in Town Center be placed on the Historic Register and, with the assistance of the Historical Society, that other structures be added as identified and become eligible. This recommendation should be a matter of pride and continued interest for the citizens of Dana Point . All nine historic commercial buildings are eligible for the Historic Register.

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Dolph House

What is the status of the Doheny House? The Dolph House (1914) and The Doheny House (1928) were placed on the Historic Register by The City Council due to the historic significance of each building, when the Historic Resource Ordinance was passed in March 2001. The Kiko Trust restored and rehabilitated The Dolph House according to the National Standards for Historic Rehabilitation and also applied for the Mills Act. The owner of The Doheny House sold the home to a partnership that has applied to demolish the home to redevelop the five-lot property estate. Such a permit request required an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on a property designated historic by the City of Dana Point, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Erica H Demkowicz, AICP, Senior Planner, City of Dana Point, recently stated, “When the EIR is completed and once all the information has been incorporated, including the Geotechnical Report, the EIR will be made available for public comment. During this public review period people may write letters, etc. in response to the prepared EIR. This public review period may be sometime in Spring 2008. Public hearings before the Planning Commission and/or the City Council would be thereafter.” The DPHS submitted letters requesting the current EIR and had done so for a previous permit requests to move and/or partially demolish The Doheny House. The Doheny House is thought to be the most important of only 20 homes that still remain in the development built by the Doheny family of Los Angeles.

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Doheny House

Our congratulations go to the owners of the two homes on El Encanto and to all the owners of the historic homes that have applied for the Historical Register and for the Mills Act. Without these homeowners like these, the City of Dana Point’s program, to formally acknowledge the collection of historic buildings that contribute to the eclectic visual character of the community and serve as reminders of Dana Point ’s rich and colorful past, would not be possible.

Copyright ~ Barbara Johannes ~ 2008 ~ All Rights Reserved

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