LONG BEACH — While a wrecking ball tears apart two of the city's most historic buildings, the City Council unanimously agreed this week to hire a neighborhood and historic preservation officer.
Commenting on the irony, preservationist Renee Simon said: "Every cloud has a silver lining."
Simon, chairwoman of the Coalition to Preserve Historic Long Beach, joined other preservationists in encouraging the council to create a city Office of Neighborhood and Historic Preservation.
"We think it's a big step forward that the city is taking," Simon said after Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Among other things, the new preservation officer will coordinate the preservation efforts of various city departments, agencies and commissions; serve as a city staff member for the city's Cultural Heritage Commission, and offer "one-stop service" to owners and developers who need assistance and advice regarding the restoration and reuse of historic structures.
The new office is the brainchild of Mayor Ernie Kell, who proposed it during his election campaign earlier this year.
At first, some council members expressed concern that the office would be too expensive. City Manager James Hankla has estimated the cost of the new municipal office at $113,000 annually. Hankla had suggested that the job be staffed part time, with the same person overseeing the recently created Office of Education. But Kell, who also proposed the education office, wanted each to be staffed by a full-time employee, and the council agreed to go along with his plan.