Rozas House in San Juan Bautista, was built in 1856

Interactive plaques will be placed around the downtown area of San Juan Bautista soon. A project that will tell the buildings’ colorful stories has been approved by the San Juan Bautista Historic Resources Board. Visitors will be able to bring up historic information on their phones while touring about 29 different sites in the downtown area.

At their meeting Historic Resources Board members gave their blessing to the historic building plaques. David Medeiros, retired IBM employee and long-time San Juan Bautista resident, joined the board and city planning commission. He replaces Andy Moore, who resigned for personal reasons.

The Historic Resources Board members were unanimous in the approval of the historic plaques. The project is being driven by the Rozas House Organization. The group received $7,500 in city funds for the project.

In its first phase the group will place 29 bronze plaques on buildings in the Third Street Historic District. The Rozas House Organization is coordinating the project with property owners.

The plaques, which will be adhered with adhesive, will include the following information:

The earliest historic name associated with the building

The date or estimated date of construction and a brief historical description

A QR code that will link to a website. There, people will find then and now photos and an article detailing the building’s history

A map number which corresponds with the new San Juan Bautista Walking Tour brochure. The brochure lists 49 historic buildings and sites.

Eventually, the historic project will include an audio tour. Visitors then can listen to it during their tour of the city.

Commissioner Darlene Boyd suggested that a treasure map be included to involve school children in the tour.

“I think this is an exciting project,” said John Hopper, chair of the Historic Resources Board and the planning commission.

Sitting as the planning commission, commissioners considered two signs installed by a city crew. They were installed in front of City Hall and the Public Works Department without any prior approval.

Commissioner Ernest Franco pointed out that the city’s sign ordinance applies to all signs in the city, including those at public buildings. “You can’t do good illegally,” he said.

The signs will remain in place until city staff comes back to the commission with a recommendation.

Franco also raised the issue of traffic speeds on third street. J. Edward Tewes, interim city manager, said the city has authorized a traffic study on Fourth Street, which parallels Third Street. It will begin after the holidays.

Hopper, who called traffic speeding “an epidemic,” suggested the city consider doing a traffic study on Third Street at the same time as the one scheduled for Fourth Street.

During the planner’s comment period, Commissioner Scott Freels said comments made at recent City Council meetings about Hopper amounted to bullying.

“I’m happy you’re still our chairman,” Freels said. “Some of the actions taken in the last month is going to be (considered) a dark spot in our history. I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all,” he said.

Tewes briefed commissioners on a comprehensive report he will present to City Council on Jan. 19 on the Rancho Vista Housing Project. Phase 7 of the project has been criticized by neighboring homeowners. Among their concerns is the possible blocking of their views by new homes.

Tewes also said he will be presenting reports to planners next year on a new city well and development of a produce transfer facility on 18 acres, which is in a proposed cannabis zone.