The San Juan Bautista Historic Resources Board continued discussion about splitting from the Planning Commission at its May 7 meeting. The two boards currently consist of the same five members.
The ad hoc committee made up of Commissioners Shirley Brewer and David Medeiros suggested the first step is to consult with the City Council on whether the separation is beneficial to San Juan Bautista. The committee will give an update at the next meeting before the board decides on presenting to the City Council.
While commissioners seemed to agree with the ad hoc group’s recommendation, interim City Manager Ed Tewes said the board needed to convey a clear message as to why the Historic Resources Board believed it was necessary to split from the Planning Commission. During discussion, board members said a decreased workload, fewer oversight errors, a greater ability to attract qualified individuals to both bodies and a greater ability to qualify for Historic Resources Board-related grants were among the benefits it expected to realize from the split.
Commissioner Luis Matchain voiced concern about splitting. He said the skills required to be part of the Historic Resources Board are hard to find in San Juan Bautista, as city rules state the position should go to a person with a bachelor’s degree.
Commissioner Scott Freels said that those are the existing guidelines, while Brewer clarified that they are meant as guidelines, not strict requirements.
Matchain said he was also concerned that the project approval process would slow down if the board split from the Planning Commission, especially in cases where a historic building is at high risk of damage.
While board members felt Matchain’s concerns were valid, Brewer said she still wanted to move forward by presenting to the City Council because all concerns would be ironed out in the process.
Darlene Boyd, a San Juan Bautista resident and former Historic Resources Board member and planning commissioner, said she felt the board was not sufficiently prepared to make a presentation to the council. She suggested that the ad hoc committee meet with people who were previously on the board.
“I would definitely include people on this from the community that can help you list the benefits of why you want to do this and maybe the cons of why you don’t want to do it,” Boyd said. “If you have the two lists then you can present to the City Council.”
While resident Georgana Gularte also said the ad hoc needed to talk to former members of the board, she pointed out that there now might be more qualified individuals residing in the city with two new housing developments in town, Rancho Vista and Copperleaf.
Discussion of separating the Historic Resources Board and Planning Commission will continue a future meeting.