After members of the San Juan Bautista Historic Resources Board and Planning Commission looked to separate the two boards, the City Council decided against the split at its Aug. 20 meeting. The two boards consist of the same five members.
Council members did not support the separation because of the challenge of filling the Historic Resources Board with qualified residents and the extra bureaucracy it would create. (Councilmember Dan de Vries was absent.)
Commissioner Shirley Brewer gave a presentation and called the concerns valid, but said she felt that having the same five members serve on both boards was short-changing the city. She also said other commissioners felt that not having the separation led to items falling through the cracks.
“It’s such a vibrant city, we have such a vibrant historic society here that it needs to have a little more focus on the historic resource board to bring to the Planning Commission a lot more than what we’re giving now,” Brewer said.
She also suggested forming a three-member Historic Resources Board if the city found it difficult to attract qualified candidates.
“I’m very happy to continue to do what we’re doing, it just seems counterproductive to me that we don’t have that extra set of eyes on us pulling San Juan Bautista to apply for grants,” Brewer said. “My hope is that maybe somebody from the historical society might step up to guide that as we get it started.”
During public comment, San Juan Bautista resident Jackie Morris said there might be renewed interest in preserving the historical aspect of the city by residents moving into the new developments.
Having qualified residents is not the problem, Councilman John Freeman said before the city officially voted to oppose the split. Rather, it’s a lack of interest.
“We have a stack of letters here from people who are qualified and they don’t want to do it. Let’s be really frank and honest,” Freeman said. “They don’t want to do it for whatever reason and we have to respect that.”
Freeman said that even though he could not support the split at this time, he did not object to any additional research by the ad hoc committee of Brewer and fellow Commissioner David Medeiros.
Resident Rachel Ponce spoke in favor of the split and said she believed the five members could do the work, but they needed the support to do so.
“There has been so many projects that have been overlooked that have been given permits with conditions and those conditions have not been met,” Ponce said. “It’s not the volunteers’ fault. It’s that we really need to focus on the positions of city government and to really support them.”
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