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Ritch Holben 17th January, 2010

Good morning Ines,

thank you for being my favorite Sunday morning provocateur!

I loved reading your distillation of a very troubling issue that many people face relating to Historical preservation of communities: The right of the individual over their place in the overall community.

What are One's responsibilities to one's neighbors?

Should one be allowed to express their "Creativity" (as Mr. Otto calls it - I cringed too!) when it causes a headache for the guy across the street?

And who determines what good taste even is? (Maybe I'm even wrong in assuming people care about good taste! You know what they say about ASSUME-ing...)

And then there's the question of a neighborhood even having historical significance worth emulating or preserving? Who makes that determination?

I've been in the same painful position as you have, serving voluntarily on community boards that did not have either the background or expertise to exercise their charge, and, alternatively, with a highly qualified board that did not have the support of the "higher-ups" in local government to make any sort of difference. I've also lived in communities where that One Bad Apple, that One Pig-headed Developer or Obstinate MeMeMe A-hole thumbs their nose, and wallet, at the local boards, and ruin it for everyone. It's a bitter pill. (Can you tell I'm bitter???)

But here is one question I would openly pose to you, as you stand in a unique position of understanding both sides of that damnable coin.. architecture and real estate...

DO you know of any PROPERTY VALUE benefits to living in a historically-protected community? Maybe it comes down to dollars and sense when talking with characters like Mr. Otto. Maybe its the only way to make the argument for greater control... does it mean that my home, my neighborhood, will be considered more desirable in the future, and will increase my property value over time? Will the additional costs of maintaining my home in a historically appropriate way be offset by its long-term gain? How do historically-maintained communities fare against unregulated ones from a financial perspective?

Does Money talk? and can it talk sense to these mavericks that still think the rule of the Wild West is what our culture is based on.