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Articles

Landmark vote: District objects to recommendation

Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
The Ojai Unified School District's (OUSD) School Board voted unanimously Oct. 30 to file an objection to the Ojai City Council regarding the Historic Preservation Commission's (HPC) Oct. 12 recommendation to designate the 7.5 acre Chaparral property as a historic landmark. 
School Board members argued that a historic designation could prove burdensome to potential developers and that HPC hadn't made the ramifications of a landmark status clear.
“What I'm hearing is very unclear as to what the practical effect of this [landmark] is, other than you can't do anything without the HPC's blessing. That's the one distinctive thing that I've got,” said School Board member Michael Shanahan. “I think that before you impose something on someone who doesn't want it, you need a justification more than 'it's old' and 'we like it.'”
The Board expressed dismay at HPC's decision to recommend the entire property, the former home of the Nordhoff Grammar School, be landmarked as opposed to limiting the landmark to the property's historic buildings.
A city staff report, drafted in advance of HPC's Oct. 12 meeting, recommended the body limit the landmark designation to the property's school structures because the historic resource survey on the parcel “did not fully analyze the entire school property.”
“You landmark the whole property as a protection from people developing and infringing on the landmarked buildings,” said HPC Vice Chair Brian Aikens.

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