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Crafting preservation plan doesn't end with passage

December 01, 1999

Paul Clinton

CIVIC CENTER -- Far from ending the challenge, the passage of the

Burbank Historic Preservation Plan merely sets the stage for much work to

come, supporter's of the historic measure said this week.

The Burbank City Council unanimously approved the plan Nov. 23, but

its authors said they have a tough road ahead in crafting a detailed city

policy that provides both for the restoration and identification of

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historic properties.

Craig Bullock, chairman of the Burbank Historical Commission and the

driving force behind the 34-page document, said the six-point plan is

only a blueprint.

"The heritage commission now goes into putting the nuts and bolts into

the plan," Bullock said. "It's certainly a tremendous undertaking."

Though the plan has generally received approval by preservationists

and Realtors, there has been some skepticism about it's most ambitious

provisions.

In the coming months, Bullock said he will work with city officials,

the owners of historic properties, Realtors and others to add detail to

the plan. Bullock said it will likely be six months before he returns to

the council with some of that detail in place and longer before the

entire plan is complete.

With its unanimous approval, the council accepted, in principal, the

Mills Act, a 1972 federal law that offers tax breaks to property owners

as an incentive for restoring their classic buildings.

Part of Bullock's challenge is drafting a plan that both protects the

commercial value of the property for owners, as well as honors it as

historic.

Many owners of historic properties are weary of excess restrictions if

they take federal money for a restoration, said Giacinta Koontz, director

of the Portal of Folded Wings, a nationally recognized landmark at the

Valhalla Memorial Park and Mortuary.

"It's a balance because you have the owners on one hand being afraid

and on the other hand they are looking for help from the government,"

Koontz said.

The preservation plan also puts the Burbank Heritage Commission in a

higher-profile role as an advisor on redevelopment projects that involve

properties with historic value.

One of the more controversial elements of the plan asks the city to

revise an ordinance requiring the commission to get permission from

owners of historic places before they can research the property.

"I don't think people should have the prerogative of inspecting the

property without the owner's permission," said Wayne Schulze, president

of the Burbank Association of Realtors. However, Schulze agreed that

properties should be identified if they have historical value.

The plan also seeks to establish a city register that would list

historic properties in Burbank. Bullock said he modeled the idea on the

National Register of Historic Places. The list will initially include the

four National Register properties in the city but will be expanded to

include other landmarks as well.

Historic registers can raise a building's profile in historic circles,

Koontz said.

"Tourists come here because they see it on a list," Koontz said. "It

creates awareness."

BURBANK STRUCTURES ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

Valhalla Memorial Rotunda: 3900 Valhalla Drive, constructed in 1924.

Burbank Post Office, Downtown Station: 125 E. Olive Ave., built in

1938.

City Hall: 275 E. Olive Ave., built in 1941.

Bob's Big Boy Restaurant: 4211 Riverside Drive, built in 1949.

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