Sunday, February 24, 2008
Rant on Vinyl Windows and Fences
There will be a special joint Planning Commission/Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 25 at 7:00 pm at the Ganesha Park community center. What's at stake is the future look of Pomona's historic districts. Really.
You can read John Clifford's post over at M-m-m-my Pomona for the details of what will be discussed, and other ways to get your opinions to the council people if you can't attend the meeting or don't want to speak in public.
Here's my take on the issues, and then I'll shut up. I know that not everyone who reads this blog may be on board with regard to the rules and regs of living in an historic district. I respect that. It's just that I love these old homes and I've experienced first hand how sad and blighted even the most "historic" neighborhood can look when people erect prison-like fences in front of stuccoed over, vinyl-windowized homes.
Pomona's largest natural resource, besides the salt-of-the-earth human beings I seem to meet at every turn, is the beautiful array of historic housing stock. Let's not allow the City to give the historic districts the Pomona treatment (As in, "it's only Pomona, what's the big deal?") Residents battled for years to get the historic districts in place. Pomona was truly proactive in this regard. The reason that Lincoln Park is so striking is not an accident, but because of the safeguards built into the ordinance. It's backwards to propose dismantling what has so visibly worked. The ordinance has always prohibited vinyl windows from replacing wood ones, nor does it allow wood structures to be stuccoed. The ordinance should continue to do so, with the promise of more outreach to the community to avoid future confusion and mistakes on the part of people who put in the vinyl windows and then must change them back to wood.
Fences, however, have never been addressed by the historical ordinance, and in recent years we have seen quite a few ugly fences manage to detract character from entire blocks. While before one would view down a cohesive greeness of a block, you now have ocassional metal fences that stick out like a sore thumb. While there are situations (such as certain corner lots) where fencing might be a safety issue, on the whole I have to ask how these homes have gone nearly a hundred years without a fence, yet suddenly they need one now. If a fence simply has to be built, it should at least be in keeping with the style and material of the house.
Pomona has been way ahead of the game. There are still districts in Los Angeles going through the protracted process to accomplish historic status, all the while having to suffer the blows of seeing yet another fence erected, yet another vinyl window installed, yet another bungalow turned stuccalow.
The first house we ever owned was a 99.9% intact craftsman bungalow in "The Bungalows" area of Los Angeles' Jefferson Park District. The heart of the area is Arlington Avenue, about five blocks south of the 10 freeway. Last I heard, they were still fighting the good fight to become a historic district. One of my old neighbors there writes a blog entitled Recentering El Pueblo . Adam often writes about the incursion of inappropriate fences, stuccalows and vinyl windows into the neighborhood. You can read his posts on Vinyl Window Replacement part one and part two. My favorite all time post of his is about some neighborhood dogs that are kept on a roof (click here for the post but you have to scroll way down the page). Anyone who has endured the rigors of hardcore urban living can appreciate the humor of his posts. Mostly, it makes me feel lucky we have protections here in Pomona. I say let's keep it that way!