This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Yalecrest neighborhood is a worthy candidate for Local Historic District (LHD) designation; it is on the cusp of its centennial anniversary, the first platted subdivision occurring in 1910.
Yalecrest's wide variety of housing stock helps to contribute to the diversity of residents. Young families continue to move in evidenced by both elementary school populations. The ability to build appropriate additions allows families to stay, and the large selection of styles and sizes allows families to move within the neighborhood.
This is an unusually common practice within the Yalecrest boundaries. From my street alone, nine residents have moved 14 different times to other houses within Yalecrest. A viable population including retirees, young families and single individuals could be priced out of the neighborhood if out-of-scale additions and mega-houses continue to be built.
Discussions on protection for the neighborhood have been ongoing since 1998. Each time a tear-down occurred, the Neighborhood Council and City Council representatives received questions on how to prevent it and the new structure that would follow. The majority of residents are united in their concern about overly large additions, out-of-character remodels and tear-downs.
In 2005, 91 percent of Yalecrest's homes were listed as contributing structures when placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately this number has decreased due to demolitions and inappropriate remodels since then.
The summary of the reconnaissance-level survey for Yalecrest and the East Bench Master Plan recommend protection through an LHD designation and guidelines. The Tribune supports preservation of homes in Yalecrest and has printed editorials saying so three times in less than a year. It also stated, "You can't legislate taste." Agreed. And that's a reason an LHD is needed, to protect what already exists, giving comfort, stability and reliability to residents.
The existing Yalecrest Compatible Infill Ordinance is a zoning overlay relying on dimensional standards. It cannot address character, style and demolitions, which are documented as residents' concerns. Design guidelines provided with an LHD address these issues, ensuring compatibility while giving property owners flexibility.
Other than the LHD designation, Salt Lake City doesn't have any tool to prevent demolitions that could withstand legal challenge. LHD processes are already in place and working. To this I can attest.
We are in the midst of our own home addition, complying with the temporary land-use regulations, which placed the same guidelines on remodels as if Yalecrest actually were an LHD. All Yalecrest applicants who presented before the Historic Landmarks Commission on June 2 were approved. The commission demonstrated leniency and made concessions; it's much more flexible than any type of zoning (such as the YCI).
Comprised of volunteers, the HLC has no financially vested interest. Rules require members to be from different city areas and have relevant professional experience. This reduces the possibility of bias versus, for example, a committee with members only from within the Yalecrest area. The HLC's role using the established guidelines takes the task of determining compliance, compatibility, scale and character off of an individual, therefore assuaging anxiety among neighbors.
Time taken for the hearing at HLC was worth the unanimous approval for a certificate of appropriateness, ensuring our addition is compatible and within scale and character for the neighborhood, all attributes which attracted us to Yalecrest. This process occurred without any additional cost, and because we've complied with state guidelines we'll receive 20 percent back in tax credits, making our addition more affordable.
A local historic district provides protection and flexibility. Yalecrest, with redefined boundaries drawn by the City Council, meets the criteria and is worthy for a LHD designation.
Jon Dewey has been a Yalecrest resident for 17 years and is a member of Yalecrest Yes Heritage Preservation Committee, a nonprofit created to protect the neighborhood; firstname.lastname@example.org.