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San Gabriel Valley Digest

Pasadena : Preservation Law Extended

March 06, 1986

The Board of City Directors has again extended an emergency ordinance designed to protect historical structures and ordered authors to rewrite a controversial permanent measure that would restrict alterations on buildings more than 50 years old.

The emergency ordinance was enacted in June in response to the actions of Texas rancher Barton English, who bought Pasadena's landmark Blacker House early last summer and promptly stripped it of its original lighting fixtures.

The emergency ordinance has since been extended several times while authors attempt to draft a permanent law to protect historical buildings that will satisfy both preservationists and property owners.

As originally written, the so-called "Blacker ordinance" would have prohibited owners of houses more than 50 years old from demolishing or altering them without permission from the city. But on Monday, the board asked that restrictions be imposed on only 23 buildings designated as "historic treasures" by the Cultural Heritage Commission, including City Hall, the city library, the Caltech Athenaeum, and several turn-of-the-century homes designed by architects Charles and Henry Greene, including the Blacker house.

Many speakers representing neighborhood and civic organizations opposed the proposed ordinance, calling the restrictions a violation of civil rights. But a spokesman for the Pasadena Realty Board, which initially opposed it, said it would accept a revised ordinance if the eminent domain clause is eliminated. The rewritten ordinance will be discussed at a March 24 board meeting.

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