LAKE COUNTY HERITAGE COMMISSION There is interest in re-establishing the Lake County Heritage Commission so it can create and maintain a Register of County Historic Resources. Such a register would allow county agencies to apply for preservation and rehabilitation grants, allow owners of historic sites to enter into “Mills Act” preservation contracts lowering their property taxes, and make the job of determining historic site significance much easier for land use planners during the permit process. To assist in the process, we are presenting the following historical perspective, so past pitfalls can be avoided. 2013 Four years of Heritage Commission efforts stymied by the Lake County Community Development Department, County Council, and Public Services Directors. Heritage Commissioners finally give up and leave. Lake County’s Heritage Commission no longer exists. Background Lake County’s Heritage Commission was created in 1986 by the passage of Article 38 of the Lake County Zoning Code. That article created a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone to assist landowners and the county in protecting historic and prehistoric sites. The ordinance also created the Cultural Resource Commission (made up of knowledgeable citizens) to create and maintain a Register of County Historic Resources and to review and comment on planning applications for projects that may impact heritage resources.In 1993, County Supervisors passed a resolution combining the functions of three different commissions (including the Cultural Resource Commission) into a newly named County Heritage Commission. The resolution also took away the commission’s authority to create and maintain a County Historic Register.In the 26 years that Article 38 has existed, not one single parcel in Lake County has been given the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone; not the Historic Lake County Courthouse, not the Historic Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum, not the National Historic Landmark Borax Lake Site, not the National Register Anderson Marsh Archaeological District, and not the National Register Rattlesnake Island Archaeological District. Timeline of Actions Leading to Commissioners Giving Up 2009 Jan: The Community Development Department (CDD) Director (Richard Coel) gives the Heritage Commission a sample Historic Preservation Ordinance (from Napa City) to rewrite to replace Lake County’s Article 38 of the Zoning Code. Mr. Coel had removed all references to archaeology from the Napa ordinance before providing the sample to the Commission. As 90% of Lake County’s heritage resources are archaeological sites, the Heritage Commission Chair arranged a meeting with Mr. Coel to find out why all references to archaeology were removed from the sample ordinance.Feb: During the meeting, the Commission Chair was told by Mr. Coel that he removed archaeology because he didn’t want to have to deal with the Native American community. Mr. Coel finally agreed to have archaeology reintroduced into the draft ordinance.May/June: Draft of new Historic Preservation Ordinance is finished by Heritage Commission and sent to County for review.September: Mr. Coel and CDD staff shoot down the draft ordinance stating that there is “no support” for the preservation of archaeological resources in Lake County (this statement flies in the face of General Plan policies OSC 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, and 8.7).October/December: Realizing that the existing County Zoning Code protects both historic structures and archaeological sites, the Heritage Commission decides against rewriting Lake County’s historic preservation ordinance.2010March: The Heritage Commission turns its attention to writing an ordinance establishing a County Register of Historic Resources. The “Register” will enable landowners to take advantage of economic incentives if they voluntarily agree to protect historic sites on their property. It also assists the CDD staff during permit processing by providing a list of those resources that have already been considered significant as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).The Heritage Commission is one of the County commissions empowered to review and comment on permit applications for projects that may impact heritage resources. However, Mr. Coel will not give the Heritage Commission permit documents to review. Commission members are not allowed to see archaeological reports done for development projects.Even the Rattlesnake Island development report (see “Rattlesnake Island” under the “News” menu heading) is kept from commission members. Mr. Coel tells the commission that they have no business reviewing or commenting on the project.The Commission had to go to the Big Valley Reservation to get access to archaeological reports for planning projects.April: Heritage Commission drafts an ordinance to establish a County Register of Historic Resources and circulates it for review and comment to the State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO).May: Draft Register Ordinance is rewritten incorporating SHPO comments.June: Draft Register Ordinance is sent to Kim Clymire (County Public Services Director) for distribution to county staff for comments.July: Heritage Commission Annual Report given to Board of Supervisors.August: Draft Register Ordinance reviewed by County Council Bob Bridges.September-December: Heritage Commission rewrites the County Register of Historic Resources Draft Ordinance based on Mr. Bridges comments.2011May: Heritage Commission asked by County Redevelopment Agency to recommend Lucerne Hotel for listing on the County Register of Historic Resources. In reviewing old ordinances, it was discovered that the Commission had the authority to set up and maintain the County Historic Registry without Board of Supervisor’s approval.Commission rewrites the Draft Register Ordinance to reflect this new information.May 25-26: County Council writes letter to the Heritage Commission disagreeing with Commission’s opinion on authority to maintain a County Register of Historic Resources.June: During a meeting with Mr. Bridges (County Council), Mr. Coel (CDD Director), Mr. Clymire (Public Services Director), Linda Lake (County Museum Curator), and Dr. Parker (Heritage Commission Chair), the Heritage Commission is told that they have no authority and are only an advisory committee.August: Using its “advisory committee” status, the Heritage Commission rewrites the Historical Registry Ordinance as a set of “guidelines” for the Board of Supervisors (BOS) to follow when they decided to determine the significance of a historic resource.September: The BOS “guidelines” are shot down by Mr. Coel and never go to the Board of Supervisors for review.2012January: Heritage Commission receives a proposed work plan from Caroline Chavez (New County Public Services Director). The work plan asks the Commission to develop an information brochure, look at the existing State List of Registered Historic Resources to see if any of these should be on a County Historical Register, and develop a form for owners to use to request that their properties be considered for historic listing. Ms. Chavez specifically states that archaeological sites are not to be considered, only buildings. She also states that register listing will only be considered for buildings if the owner makes a request. As a response to Mr. Coel and Ms. Chavez proposed work plan, the Commission drafts a brochure and cover letter to property owners of resources already listed on the State or National Register of Historic Resources. The brochure and letter explain the economic incentives available and the plan to consider those resources for listing on a County Register.February: Heritage Commission Chair is approached by the Historical Society Board basking that the Ely Stage Stop Museum be listed on the County Historical Register.April: Mr. Coel reviews the Commission’s draft brochure and cover letter. He indicates he wants to “avoid archaeological sites for now” and wants the Commission to only focus on historic buildings as narrowly defined by the Mill’s Act.Ms. Chavez and Mr. Coel want to run a small test group of properties through the process first, including 8 buildings in the Lower Lake area.In the hope of accomplishing something positive (after 3 1/2 years), the Heritage Commission agrees and adds the Ely Stage Stop to the list (per a request from the County Historical Society).Mr. Coel decides that the Ely Stage Stop doesn’t qualify as a significant historic structure and shouldn’t be considered for the County Historic Register. It is now obvious to Commission members that Mr. Coel wants to be the “gate keeper” for any potential historic site or building that might be presented to the Board of Supervisors for addition to the County Register of Historic Resources.It is also obvious that Mr. Coel has no interest in considering the full range of historic resources that exist in Lake County (excluding 90% of the County’s historic resources represented by archaeological sites; both historic and prehistoric).May-December: The Heritage Commission does all the paperwork necessary to present 5 Lower Lake buildings to the Board of Supervisors for inclusion on the non-existent County Register of Historic Resources.The proposals are given to the Public Services Director but are never sent to the Supervisors for consideration.After a long discussion, all Heritage Commission appointees decide not to reapply for their positions on the Heritage Commission.