Back in the old days, about 1975 or so, San Diegans who liked historical houses and commercial buildings were widely referred to by real estate agents and developers as “hysterical preservationists.” How times have changed. Thanks in large part to favorable property-tax breaks legislated by ex–Coronado state senate Democrat Jim Mills, buyers of today clamor for aging estates, which must be certified as authentically historic before they qualify for an official designation. Enter Julie K. Danielson, a Chula Vista real estate agent who is a member of the city’s preservation commission, who recently asked the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission for some advice about the state’s conflict-of-interest law.
“Does the Act prohibit you, as commissioner of the Chula Vista Historic Preservation Commission and a licensed real estate agent, from continuing to market and sell historically designated properties where you will be called upon to vote on historically designated properties generally?” wrote commission counsel Zackery P. Morazzini, posing Danielson’s question rhetorically in an August 16 letter.
His answer: “In summary, you are not prohibited from (1) continuing to market and sell historically designated properties, (2) contacting property owners to congratulate their decisions to participate in the historical preservation process, or (3) contacting staff to obtain information regarding a property, so long as you refrain from making, participating in making, or influencing a governmental decision that may have a reasonably foreseeable financial effect on any of your economic interests.
“You are prohibited, however, from participating in a Preservation Commission decision regarding a historical designated property where you or your employer represent a buyer or seller of the property if the decision will have a reasonably foreseeable material financial effect on the client, your employer, or your personal finances. Once you have resigned, you may participate in Preservation Commission hearings and represent a buyer or seller in the sale of a historically designated property that you voted on as a member of the Preservation Commission.”