A demolition crew finished knocking down the old San Marcos Telephone Company building on June 19. The building was constructed in 1928 and included on the National Register in 1983. It was one of several buildings demolished to make room for San Marcos Lofts I. Daily Record photo by Rachel Willis
Council approves ordinance on historic buildings
Demolition permits for historic buildings in San Marcos will be met with a delay following City Council’s decision this week.
On Thursday afternoon, the San Marcos City Council gathered for a special meeting in order to pass an ordinance that will delay permits on demolitions of historic buildings. Ordinance 2019-19, which is a temporary, 120-day ordinance, was passed unanimously by the council and will put a 90-day delay on the issuance of demolition permits for buildings that are deemed historically significant or are 80 years or older.
While the ordinance will go into effect immediately, it is not meant to be a permanent solution to the lack of regulation on historic demolitions. Instead, the council requested that the Historic Preservation Committee provide suggestions for a permanent solution following their upcoming meeting on July 11.
“We will rely on [the Historic Preservation Committee] to bring back something that is full-blown and ready to go,” Mayor Jane Hughson said.
Only demolitions will fall under the temporary ordinance, as repairs will not see the same 90-day delay. In order to meet the prerequisites for a demolition permit for buildings that classify as historic structures, the permit applicant must fulfill the following requirements: post a conspicuous notice to city official’s website, send written notice in the mail to all residents within 400 feet of the building and send written notice or email notice to several parties including the Council of Neighborhood Associations, members of the Historic Preservation Committee, any individual neighborhood or property owners’ associations, or individual registered with the city to receive such notices.
“What we're trying to do here is to put a little bit of time in there,” Hughson said. “At least that's what I was looking for — to put a little bit of time in there so that if it is something that is historically significant to our community, this is my intent, that we buy some time.”
The ordinance, which was amended by the council in order to clarify the language and intentions of the document, only places a delay on permitting for historic building demolitions. This means that current permitting processes for structures such as carports, sheds and pergolas will not be affected.
According to Shannon Mattingly, Director of Planning and Development Services for the City of San Marcos, a building is defined as: "a man-made construction completely enclosed by a roof, window, doors and solid exterior walls and designed, built and occupied as a shelter or enclosure for persons, animals or property and for the legal occupancy of which a Certificate of Occupancy approved is required, or has been issued prior to the affected date thereof. Not synonymous with structure.”
Only buildings, parts, or additions over 80 years, or which have been ”identified as medium or high preservation priority properties within the boundaries of the draft My Historic SMTX resources survey” will see a 90-day delay.
“Most of the bulk areas that have been identified as historic are already in the area of the resources survey,” Mattingly said.
In other business, the council approved in-kind funding for San Marcos’ upcoming mermaid parade, which included the waiving of city permit fees, providing the Mermaid Society SMTX with street barricades, a supervisor to manage the barricades and a COSM police officer.
After the last mermaid parade and Aquafestival, Councilwoman Melissa Derrick said she began to work with city managers to form a city-wide policy for in-kind donations for events that bring the community together.
“The mermaid parade was actually the catalyst to create a program which we are just now finalizing,” Derrick said. “... I really felt that the parade that paved the way for it really shouldn’t be left out of funding this year.”