Lake County's Heritage Commission was created in 1986 by the passage of Article 38
of the Lake County Zoning Code. That article created a Historic Preservation Overlay
Zone to assist landowners and the county in protecting historic and prehistoric
sites. The ordinance also created the Cultural Resource Commission (made up of
knowledgeable citizens) to create and maintain a Register of County Historic
Resources and to review and comment on planning applications for projects that may
impact heritage resources.
In 1993, County Supervisors passed a resolution combining the functions of three
different commissions (including the Cultural Resource Commission) into a newly
named County Heritage Commission. The resolution also took away the
commission's authority to create and maintain a County Historic Register.
In the 26 years that Article 38 has existed, not one single parcel in Lake County has
been given the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone; not the Historic Lake County
Courthouse, not the Historic Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum, not the National
Historic Landmark Borax Lake Site, not the National Register Anderson Marsh
Archaeological District, and not the National Register Rattlesnake Island
|LAKE COUNTY HERITAGE COMMISSION
|History and Prehistory of Lake County
|Four years of Heritage Commission efforts stymied by the Lake
County Community Development Department, County Council, and
Public Services Directors. Heritage Commissioners finally give up
and leave. Lake County's Heritage Commission no longer exists.
Timeline of Actions Leading to Commissioners Giving Up
Jan: The Community Development Department (CDD) Director (Richard Coel) gives
the Heritage Commission a sample Historic Preservation Ordinance (from Napa City)
to rewrite to replace Lake County's Article 38 of the Zoning Code. Mr. Coel had
removed all references to archaeology from the Napa ordinance before providing the
sample to the Commission.
As 90% of Lake County's heritage resources are archaeological sites, the Heritage
Commission Chair arranged a meeting with Mr. Coel to find out why all references to
archaeology were removed from the sample ordinance.
Feb: During the meeting, the Commission Chair was told by Mr. Coel that he removed
archaeology because “he didn’t want to have to deal with the Native American
community”. Mr. Coel finally agreed to have archaeology reintroduced into the draft
May/June: Draft of new Historic Preservation Ordinance is finished by Heritage
Commission and sent to County for review.
September: Mr. Coel and CDD staff shoot down the draft ordinance stating that there
is “no support” for the preservation of archaeological resources in Lake County (this
statement flies in the face of General Plan policies OSC 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, and 8.7).
October/December: Realizing that the existing County Zoning Code protects both
historic structures and archaeological sites, the Heritage Commission decides
against rewriting Lake County's historic preservation ordinance.
March: The Heritage Commission turns its attention to writing an ordinance
establishing a County Register of Historic Resources. The "Register" will enable
landowners to take advantage of economic incentives if they voluntarily agree to
protect historic sites on their property. It also assists the CDD staff during permit
processing by providing a list of those resources that have already been considered
significant as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The Heritage Commission is one of the County commissions empowered to review
and comment on permit applications for projects that may impact heritage
resources. However, Mr. Coel will not give the Heritage Commission permit
documents to review. Commission members are not allowed to see archaeological
reports done for development projects.
Even the Rattlesnake Island development report (see button at top left) is kept from
commission members. Mr. Coel tells the commission that they have no business
reviewing or commenting on the project.
The Commission had to go to the Big Valley Reservation to get access to
archaeological reports for planning projects.
April: Heritage Commission drafts an ordinance to establish a County Register of
Historic Resources and circulates it for review and comment to the State Office of
Historic Preservation (SHPO).
May: Draft Register Ordinance is rewritten incorporating SHPO comments.
June: Draft Register Ordinance is sent to Kim Clymire (County Public Services
Director) for distribution to county staff for comments.
July: Heritage Commission Annual Report given to Board of Supervisors.
August: Draft Register Ordinance reviewed by County Council Bob Bridges.
September-December: Heritage Commission rewrites the County Register of Historic
Resources Draft Ordinance based on Mr. Bridges comments.
May: Heritage Commission asked by County Redevelopment Agency to recommend
Lucerne Hotel for listing on the County Register of Historic Resources. In reviewing
old ordinances, it was discovered that the Commission had the authority to set up
and maintain the County Historic Registry without Board of Supervisor’s approval.
Commission rewrites the Draft Register Ordinance to reflect this new information.
May 25-26: County Council writes letter to the Heritage Commission disagreeing with
Commission's opinion on authority to maintain a County Register of Historic
June: During a meeting with Mr. Bridges (County Council), Mr. Coel (CDD Director),
Mr. Clymire (Public Services Director), Linda Lake (County Museum Curator), and Dr.
Parker (Heritage Commission Chair), the Heritage Commission is told that they have
no authority and are only an advisory committee.
August: Using its "advisory committee" status, the Heritage Commission rewrites the
Historical Registry Ordinance as a set of “guidelines” for the Board of Supervisors
(BOS) to follow when they decided to determine the significance of a historic resource.
September: The BOS “guidelines” are shot down by Mr. Coel and never go to the Board
of Supervisors for review.
January: Heritage Commission receives a proposed work plan from Caroline Chavez
(New County Public Services Director). The work plan asks the Commission to
develop an information brochure, look at the existing State List of Registered
Historic Resources to see if any of these should be on a County Historical Register,
and develop a form for owners to use to request that their properties be considered
for historic listing. Ms. Chavez specifically states that archaeological sites are not to
be considered, only buildings. She also states that register listing will only be
considered for buildings if the owner makes a request.
As a response to Mr. Coel and Ms. Chavez proposed work plan, the Commission drafts
a brochure and cover letter to property owners of resources already listed on the
State or National Register of Historic Resources. The brochure and letter explain the
economic incentives available and the plan to consider those resources for listing on
a County Register.
February: Heritage Commission Chair is approached by the Historical Society Board
asking that the Ely Stage Stop Museum be listed on the County Historical Register.
April: Mr. Coel reviews the Commission's draft brochure and cover letter. He
indicates he wants to "avoid archaeological sites for now" and wants the Commission
to only focus on historic buildings as narrowly defined by the Mill's Act.
Ms. Chavez and Mr. Coel want to run a small test group of properties through the
process first, including 8 buildings in the Lower Lake area.
In the hope of accomplishing something positive (after 3 1/2 years), the Heritage
Commission agrees and adds the Ely Stage Stop to the list (per the County Historical
Mr. Coel decides that the Ely Stage Stop doesn't qualify as a significant historic
structure and shouldn't be considered for the County Historic Register.
It is now obvious to Commission members that Mr. Coel wants to be the "gate keeper"
for any potential historic site or building that might be presented to the Board of
Supervisors for addition to the County Register of Historic Resources.
It is also obvious that Mr. Coel has no interest in considering the full range of
historic resources that exist in Lake County (excluding 90% of the County's historic
resources represented by archaeological sites; both historic and prehistoric).
May-December: The Heritage Commission does all the paperwork necessary to present
5 Lower Lake buildings to the Board of Supervisors for inclusion on the non-existent
County Register of Historic Resources.
The proposals are given to the Public Services Director but are never sent to the
Supervisors for consideration.
After a long discussion, all commissioners decide not to reapply for their positions
on the Heritage Commission.