On Tuesday, July 12, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors capped a more than two-year process by unanimously approving the establishment of an Idyllwild Historic Preservation District (IHPD).
Riverside County Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone proposed the idea four years ago and championed it through the investigation, review and regulatory processes.
According to Keith Herron, County Parks and Open Space District historic preservation officer, the next steps in implementing the district require the Board of Supervisors to appoint a five-person local review board and for a consultant to draw design guidelines for the district.
Members of the local review board must live within three miles of the district, serve without pay, and at least one must have knowledge of architecture and construction. Board terms are two years except for two members who are initially appointed for one-year terms.
Herron believes it will take a consultant two to three months to draw the guidelines, using a survey the county paid for as a template and referencing other California mountain towns with historic commercial cores, including Occidental in Sonoma County and Julian in San Diego County.
The controlling Ordinance 578 requires that, upon adoption of the district, the clerk of the board mail notices to all property holders within the district and to county agencies, including Code Enforcement, that would be affected by the community’s new status.
Stone said he was motivated by lawsuits over Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance that had plagued historic Julian in San Diego County as well as Riverside County code requirements that are appropriate in other parts of the county with newer construction but are difficult here because of the age of most structures and the physical initiations of the village grid.
Stone noted that historic district status cuts some slack for ADA compliance and also with some county code requirements drafted for newer communities on the valley floor.
The new district encompasses the business core of Idyllwild from Fern Valley Corners down North Circle. A survey conducted for the county in 2009 by LSA Associates in Riverside detailed picture of Idyllwild as a mid-century alpine community with a commercial core that developed over a 40-year period from the 1920s to the 1960s and retains most of that identity today. Of 159 properties documented in the survey, 65 proved eligible for inclusion on historic registers.
Herron reported there was virtually no opposition to formation of the district at the July 12 meeting. One property owner asked to have his property removed from the district and the supervisors agreed, at Stone’s recommendation. Herron said the property and others in question were not considered a “contributing resource” to the historical district and their removal was of no effect.