VENTURA : Simpson Tract Gets Historic Designation

Months-long preparations paid off for a grass-roots neighborhood organization when the Ventura City Council, amid loud applause, voted unanimously to officially designate the Simpson tract, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, a historic district.

Located on the northwest end of the city, the neighborhood is bounded by Ventura Avenue, Sheridan Way, Prospect Street and West Simpson Street.

Built between 1925 and 1930, the Simpson tract provided affordable housing to oil workers. Of the 211 original houses, 182 still remain, most of them built in the Mediterranean Revival and California Bungalow styles that were popular at the time.

About 20 members of the Simpson tract's Neighborhood Council were on hand Monday night to urge the council to approve the historic district, capping more than a year of lobbying at the commission and City Council levels to have the three-block tract recognized and protected.

"The historic district would bring a sense of community and a sense of pride to the place we live in," Richard Peterson, who spearheaded the neighborhood drive, told the council.

Opposition was voiced by Alan Newman, a renter on West Prospect Street, who presented the council with a petition asking that the block he lives on be separated from the tract. Seventy-nine percent of the property owners on his block had signed his petition, he said.

The district will lower property values by restricting development and would make renovations or additions to existing houses expensive and burdensome for owners, Newman said.

"I doubt that property values will do anything but go up," Councilman Todd Collard said. "I have a feeling that this is the best thing that could have happened to this neighborhood."

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