Nearly 18 months after county authorization of an Idyllwild historic preservation district, the local commission may finally be appointed. In July 2011, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 578.5, which created the district.

During the interim, too few volunteers stepped forward to complete the five-person board. That hurdle now seems past.

Olivia Barnes of Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s legislative staff confirmed that the board for the Idyllwild Downtown Historic District now has five eligible applicants. The biggest stumbling block to seating the board had been the lack of five applicants, the number required for certifying the board. For many months, there had been either three or four applicants, but no fifth.

Barnes confirmed all five live within the prescribed distance from the district and all have said they are still interested in serving.

Barnes said she expects the appointment of the historic district board will be placed on the board of supervisors’ calendar in January.

The idea for an Idyllwild historic district was Stone’s. He began advocating it in 2008 in response to ADA lawsuits brought against business owners in Julian and Alpine in San Diego County. A historic district provides businesses within the district some ADA compliance flexibility, as well as less stringent requirements for mandated number of parking spaces per business (important in Idyllwild where the grid is fixed and limited) and possible breaks on county property taxes if property owners reinvest tax dollars in building improvements. District status also provides flexibility for code compliance.

At the time he proposed a district, Stone noted that if county building codes were applied here as they are in the mostly newer parts of the county, the Idyllwild business district would in effect be closed down.

The historic district design guidelines have been completed for several months and preliminarily approved. Once the local Idyllwild board is appointed in January, it will solicit community input on the guidelines and issue its approval, then forward approved guidelines to the planning department for final approval and adoption. At that point the Idyllwild Downtown Historic District will be up and running.

Its job will be to review and handle applications for changes to any building classified as a district resource. Within the board purview are changes in landscaping, fencing, lighting, signs, roofs, windows, doors and siding and additions to any existing structures.