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Homeowner’s Role in Maintaining the Architectural Integrity
of the Historic Neighborhood

This is the second of a series of articles by Dave Stanton, long-time neighbor and historic window rehab specialist.

The homeowner's universal demand for maintaining the integrity of home neighborhoods is not new; for example most new home tracts built within the last several decades have used HOAs (home owner associations) to do the job. We in a historic district have the heavy hitters of the Federal, State and City departments and the law tasked with this job.
Keep in mind that the historic preservation issue of relevance for these government agencies is the “architectural character” of the historic house, not the detail issues such as exterior paint color that a HOA would be involved with. These governmental resources can be brought to task only when they become aware of an issue with a home. This is where the diligence of individual owners within a historic district comes into importance. Key to maintaining the historical character is homeowners making the agencies aware of a potential problem.
Our historic neighborhoods are currently at high risk due in part to the volume of home foreclosures, where buyers of these distressed historic homes commonly begin to make architectural changes to the house without proper approvals. These unauthorized modifications are not limited to resellers, as homeowners may be making unapproved changes to their own house.
When there is evidence that work may be starting on a historic house such as a dumpster now on the property, this is where neighbors need to become involved. If there are proper city approvals granted for the renovation project, a white standard size paper with a city logo at the top should be posted in a front window of the house for all to see, describing the approved scope of work. If such a notice is lacking, a call to the Historic Preservation Office at (602-261-8699) will trigger an officer to visit the site within one day. If HPO approvals are lacking, a “stop work” notice will be placed on the house. There may be another notice placed by the City Building department requiring building permits. These owners quickly become aware that the full impact in delay and cost of these violations are serious. FQ Story had several stop work notices issued within the last month. We as neighbors can be effective in maintaining the architectural integrity of our neighborhood by simply being observant and making the call for help.

You can contact the city Historic Preservation Office by phone at 602-261-8699 or by e-mail at historic@phoenix.gov, or by fax at 602-534-4571, or walk into their office at 200 West Washington St, 3rd floor.

—Dave Stanton

Historic Preservation and Sustainablility

Bob Croft has an interesting article on historic preservation and sustainability

State Historic Property Tax Reclassification (SPT) for Owner-Occupied Homes

The State of Arizona maintains a property tax reduction program for non-income producing properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, in conjunction with the county assessor’s office, administers this program.

As our neighborhood has historic status, most homes within F Q Story should be eligible for the tax credit IF owner occupied. The SPT reduces the property taxes for a “contributor” in an historic district from 10% to 5%. As a condition of the reduced tax, the owner consents to maintain and to preserve the integrity of its historic features, materials, appearance, workmanship and environment.

The official deadline to file is July 31th, if you have not done so previously. Applications can be obtained from the County Assessor’s Office or the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The application can be downloaded at http://azstateparks.com/shpo/propertytax.html or from the SHPO at 602-542-4009.

Check the Maricopa County Assessor’s website to find the percentage of tax being assessed by filling in the address of the home.