Adviser on Historic Preservation Briefs City

The firm Architectural Resources Group expects to wrap up its identification of potential historic resources in San Marino by June, after which it will begin its more intensive survey to develop the final list for City Hall.
Armed with the final report, the city hopes to be able to begin formally designating historic landmarks and structures in town, affording them the protection from heavy modification or demolition that is desired by the City Council as well as other vocal groups and residents in the community. The survey comes at the mandate of the city’s preservation ordinance that was passed nearly a year ago.
“Not only am I excited about this process, but it’s a long time coming,” said Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski, who as a member of the Planning Commission helped craft the ordinance beginning in 2017.
Mary Ringhoff, an associate at ARG, presented an update to the City Council at a meeting last week, outlining its process in developing historic-resource lists and the steps it will take to complete the San Marino project. Her firm has completed such surveys for, among others, Beverly Hills, Dana Point, West Hollywood, Arcadia, Santa Monica, Glendale, Anaheim and portions of Los Angeles throughout its 38 years of surveys.
“The list of resources will be based on the existing list of resources maintained by the San Marino Historical Society and it will also be additional properties we find during our reconnaissance research and in other surveys,” Ringhoff explained. “Both of our phases include opportunities for public participation and feedback. We will be working closely with the San Marino Historical Society as well as with the city.”
Ringhoff said after beginning work in November, ARG expected to present to the city in June a refined list of potential historic resources as well as a draft historic context statement, which frames a home’s relevance to the city based on the San Marino era in which it was constructed (around the time of the city’s incorporation, for example, or perhaps during the postwar development).
The intensive survey to thoroughly document those landmarks and prepare a final report and list of potential historic resources will begin after that, with an up-in-the-air timeline that will likely vary based on how much work the reconnaissance phase produces. The list will include more than homes and structures — for example, Lacy Park may make the cut, as could any feature of a property.
It will be up to the city to decide what to do with the information in those reports. The information will factor in property owners’ applications to designate their homes as historic. The city could also explore incentives such as the Mills Act, which grants property tax relief in exchange for a certain amount spent each year to maintain historic properties.
“A very common misconception is that historic-resource surveys formally designate properties,” Ringhoff added. “That is not true at all. The survey will not be designating any landmarks as historic resources.”

FINANCE DIRECTOR out,
receives SETTLEMENT

Josh Betta, who had been with the city since October 2017 in interim and full-time roles, resigned as San Marino’s finance director on Dec. 31 as mandated by an agreement reached with the city to “settle fully and finally all differences between them.”
Betta will receive $99,900 in the settlement, which will be paid by the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and will not affect the city’s budget.
The nine-page document indicates that Betta had not filed a legal complaint or lawsuit against the city, and says the settlement is “not an admission of any liability whatsoever for any wrongdoing with respect to Betta by [the] city … but is in compromise of a disputed claim.”
The “disputed claim” is never explained, but the agreement stipulates that the payment constitutes a settlement to
any claims Betta might have filed in the future against the city.
Included in the language of the agreement is the mandate that the city manager provide only Betta’s position with the city, his dates of employment and his salary if a prospective employer ever contacts San Marino for reference.
The Pasadena firm Mark Charles Law, which represented Betta, did not respond to a request for comment and City Manager Marcella Marlowe said she could not comment on the record.
The city will seek to hire a new finance director by the dawn of the budgeting process in late spring.

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