Thursday, May 24, 2012


A four-block by two-and-a-half-block neighborhood just south of downtown Visalia that hearkens back to the 1920s and 1930s became a historic district Monday night at the City Council meeting.
And 35 houses were added to the local Register of Historic Structures.
The vote was 3-2 in favor of adding 107 properties to a total of 115 within the Visalia Home Builders Addition to the City of Visalia Historical District Map. Councilman Bob Link and Vice Mayor Steve Nelsen voted no.
And the vote was 5-0 to add 35 properties within the Visalia Home Builders Addition to the local Register of Historic Structures.
Link said he was afraid the historic designation would penalize the sale of properties within the Home Builders neighborhood while Nelsen said he believes in homeowners property rights.
Councilman Warren Gubler said he was in conflict with individual property rights and being a fan of historic preservation. He said he used to take his family on walks through the neighborhood.
"I'm going to vote with my heart on this one," he said.
Without the historic designation, houses could be replaced with duplexes and triplexes like other older neighborhoods in Visalia, said Councilman Greg Collins. "The more regulation you have, the more the neighborhood is protected," he said.
Seven members of the public spoke in favor of the two motions and two spoke against them. Dan Cloer who lives on Stevenson Street favored the motions.
"This is a neighborhood that can remain intact," he said.
Districts are a group of homes in a neighborhood. With the local register of historic structures, each one is added one structure at a time, said Andrew Chamberlain, senior planner for the city.
Bordered by Noble Avenue on the north, Mt. Whitney High School on the south, Conyer Street on the west and Watson Street on the east, the Visalia Home Builders Addition was the first housing project within the city of Visalia, said Nancy Loliva, public information officer for the city of Visalia.
Now, some exterior improvements on the 115 properties in the Home Builders neighborhood have to get approval from the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, Chamberlain said.
"It's all about exterior changes, not interior," he said. "It's about sidings, windows and molding, not what color or if they can't do a building addition."
This neighborhood, consisting of 115 properties, was built by a group of businessmen who wanted to make Visalia a better place to live in the 1920s and 1930s, he said.
In other news, an ordinance was passed to regulate Visalia's growing massage therapy trade. It establishes health and safety provisions and background-check procedures to operate massage-related businesses in the city.