Before Jack and I came out of retirement — for me to run the Town Crier again — the Idyllwild Historic Preservation District became a fact with the intention of preserving the historic character of the charming downtown buildings.
Not every Idyllwild building meets the requirements for inclusion into the district so the boundaries are somewhat obscure and even cause confusion among the five IHPD Local Review Board members. About 65 buildings qualify for historic inclusion.
The board’s job is to review applications from merchants wishing to alter the exterior of a building within those boundaries — such as change the façade while meeting public safety and health requirements — and then make recommendations to the RC Planning Commission.
But the applications, not surprisingly, rarely arrive. The board actually solicited at least one application from two separate merchants at one location on North Circle Drive. But both mercants bucked the system and chose not to apply when the building was altered.
No enforcers arrived to change their minds because IHPD has no teeth, so to speak.
Each time the review board meets, it seems to puzzle over its role in the community.
This past meeting, three properties were considered: Town Hall, Idyllwild Inn and the lot next to La Casita.
Town Hall’s listing for sale was a primary consideration. But the board determined Town Hall is not in the IHPD, although the original survey done to establish the IHPD thought it might qualify as a national registry site.
Idyllwild Inn’s new cell tower was considered. Guess what? The board determined the tower doesn’t affect the the structure at Idyllwild Inn and even the Planning Department had no problem with it.
And rumors that bungalows may be built next to La Casita fell flat at the meeting because new buildings are not historic — not yet and not for some time.
So, the review board decided to take some action anyway and get itself a logo. At the suggestion of a county employee who probably took the long way around and back to attend the meeting because of the highway closure, a county graphic artist might be able to propose one.
True, he mentioned that IHPD has a small fund that might fund it.
My thinking is that maybe this board should not meet at all unless it actually has something of value on its agenda. Why waste a county employee’s time driving up to attend it?
We cover these meetings because they are Brown Act bodies. But we could certainly use our paid staff for better things than covering a nothing-burger meeting.
Becky Clark, Editor