The council also approved hiring a consulting firm to determine which homes in the district are pre-war homes. Those will be listed in a register that homeowners, prospective buyers, architects and contractors and city staff can use to determine if the homes fall in the "historic" category.
Up to now, owners and buyers who wanted to make significant change to their homes that would affect their outside appearance had to hire consultants on their own and at considerable expense. The new register will save everyone time and expense, said Brian Dolan, director of Community Development.
The council also accepted the task force's new definition of "demolition," which will require property owners to save the front facade up to a 10-foot depth before rebuilding an historic home. Wooden windows and cedar shake roofs, common on many pre-war homes, can be replaced with contemporary materials, including double-pane glass, just so the finished appearance is almost the same. Even solar panels and metallic materials can be used on roofs, again just so they do not change the street appearance of an historic home.
"We're not building 100-year-old-homes anymore and it's important that the ones that we have should be saved," said City Manager Nelson Fialho.
The ordinance would affect only residential areas in the Downtown Specific Plan, not businesses or commercially-zoned properties. That area extends from Third Street on the east to the Alameda County Fairgrounds on the west, and from Bernal Avenue on the south to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Old Stanley Boulevard to the north.
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