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EDITORIAL

Whether one believes Jan. 1, 2000 heralds the beginning of a new

millennium or merely a new year with a lot of zeros, there is no denying

that Y2K is quickly upon us. Just in time for this momentous event, the

city has taken an important and necessary step to preserve our historical

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heritage into the next century and beyond.

The Burbank Historic Preservation Plan unanimously approved by the

City Council on Nov. 23 establishes a civic philosophy for preserving the

city’s historical and cultural resources.

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Craig Bullock, the chairman of the Burbank Historical Commission and

one of the plans’ authors, said the 34-page document is the first step --

a blueprint if you will -- in a continuing process to mold the city’s

preservation policies.

“It finally makes the city realize the importance of preservation,

that it does have value,” Bullock said. “I think we’re moving in the

right direction.

Indeed. Among it’s components, the plan calls for the city to accept

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the Mills Act, a 1972 federal law offering tax breaks for owners who

restore their classic buildings. It also calls for compiling an

“eligibility list” of potentially historic properties, maintaining

records of programs and incentives that can benefit the owners of these

properties and incorporating appropriate preservation standards into

restoration efforts. The plan also promotes educational programs, creates

a local register of historic places and supports efforts to establish a

Burbank Air Museum. It also increases the profile of the Heritage

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Commission by giving it a formal role as an advisory board on

redevelopment projects involving historically significant properties.

Perhaps the its most controversial component is a provision

recommending the city abandon an ordinance preventing the commission from

researching a property without the owners consent. Some owners believe a

historic designation would negatively affect their property values.

Unfortunately, the law has prevented the city from compiling a thorough

list of Burbank’s historical resources. Removing it would allow the

commission to gather information as any private citizen would. The

council should accept the plan’s recommendation and change this outdated

law.

One only has to look back as far as Tuesday night to the mayor’s

annual Tree Lighting Ceremony -- which focused on the refurbishment of

City Hall -- to understand the importance of preserving Burbank’s

historical structures. Fresh off a $400,000 face lift, the gussied up Art

Deco building stood as a gleaming source of pride for all Burbank

residents.

In addition to City Hall, three other Burbank structures are included

on the National Register of Historic Places. Still, nearly 100 other

properties in the city with potential historical significance have been

largely ignored.

Thankfully, the passage of the Historic Preservation Plan does

something to remedy that situation before it is too late.


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