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To Preserve or Not to Preserve? We Have to Question...

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Where would you expect more support for the city recognized “historical landmark district” program than in a historical landmark neighborhood like the Duboce Triangle? Yet the New York Times reports that homeowners there are tired of being “historic,” at least in terms of the Planning Department red tape that comes along with that official adjective. These Dubocians, who don’t enjoy year long delays, exorbitant permit fees, nor flat-out rejections to make improvements, have formed a “rebel stronghold against the city’s ambitious plans to preserve large swathes of San Francisco in a patchwork of historic preservation zones.”

Currently, any neighborhood declared a “historic district” is legally overseen (thanks to voter-approved legislation introduced by recently departed Supe Aaron Peskin) by SF’s Planning Department, which can refuse permits for changes deemed not in keeping with that building’s “historical integrity.” So, things like adding a garage, solar panels, or new windows are all potential violations.

Homeowners aren’t the only foes of this law either: architects, trade unions, and small business owners also worry extreme anti-development attitudes don’t contribute to the city’s longevity-- particularly when preservation extends past residential neighborhoods to areas currently under review by the Planning Department, such as a car dealership on Van Ness “described by preservationists as ‘automobile support structures,’” and industrial areas in SoMa and the Mission. We’re torn, readers. We know the city’s historic buildings need protection, but at what point does conservation become more like a chokehold?
· An Unlikely Group Rebels Against Preservation Districts[New York Times]
[Photo via Mark Denton]