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California Preservationists Sue To Overturn Law That Requires Property Owners Consent To Having Their Homes Landmarked

Added 01-23-21 08:21:02am EST - “The lawsuit from three Orange County preservation groups argues that supposedly historic buildings should be afforded the same environmental protections as "air, water, and forests."” - Reason.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “California Preservationists Sue To Overturn Law That Requires Property Owners Consent To Having Their Homes Landmarked”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Christian Britschgi | 1.23.2021 8:00 AM

A coalition of preservation groups in Orange County, California, is suing the coastal community of Laguna Beach in an effort to overturn a recent amendment to the city's historic preservation ordinance that requires property owners to voluntarily opt in to having their homes considered a historic resource and all the restrictions that come with that.

"It would be unthinkable for the City to require owner consent to review biological habitat or wetlands during the approval process," said Krista Nicholds, president of Preserve Orange County, in a press release. "State law recognizes that historic resources have comparable public benefit. Owner consent has nothing to do with objective standards of historic merit."

Last week, Preserve Orange County, alongside the Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition and Village Laguna, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, County of Orange arguing that Laguna Beach failed to conduct sufficient environmental review—as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)—when approving its new voluntary preservation law in August 2020.

Supporters of the voluntary preservation ordinance counter that Laguna Beach had for years been relying on an outdated "historic inventory" when determining which buildings were historic resources. Homeowners were often unaware of their properties' supposed status as a historic resource and thus were blindsided by the restrictions that come with that status when applying for permits to perform even basic alterations.

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