Why Winn Park

What This Place Means

 In an increasingly fast-paced, anonymous and ‘placeless’ form of urban development, the individual character of each community is a precious identity. This identity helps to create a sense of stability and enables an understanding of how this unique character, itself a product of incremental development over time, can provide a direction and inspiration for the form of future development. Many residents and businesses are also drawn to historic buildings and neighborhoods because the quality and richness of design, construction, craftsmanship and materials, are typically very high; buildings that are readily adaptable to contemporary needs. Sacramento is no exception, and the Winn Park District has a series of visually rich and individual residential and commercial buildings that make our historic neighborhood a very special place. 

Why Preserve Historic Buildings & Neighborhods

The historic neighborhoods and buildings of Sacramento provide a sense of maturity and permanence that can be apparent and also elusive. 

 A principal reason to live in one of the more historic parts of our city is not solely connected to proximity to downtown, and  walkability, it is also directly related to the experience of a living work of art and architecture and is in itself a contribution to the present and future quality and richness of the neighborhood and city. 

Environmental Sustainability

 Preserving a historic structure makes sound environmental conservation policy and practice. Maintaining the use of a building is the ultimate in recycling since much less waste is generated as less processing of materials is required, and thus less energy consumed. 

The embodied energy used to create the original building is preserved and reinvested. The extraction and processing of building materials (e.g., wood, stone, and brick), the transportation of those materials, and the construction labor represented in the final structure, mean that demolition of an existing building and constructing new is notably less energy-efficient than rehabilitating or constructing an addition for the existing building. 

Conserving a building preserves its embodied energy and reduces the need for new materials. Demolition waste alone accounts for 25% of waste in municipal landfills every year. Most older buildings are as energy efficient as those buildings built today under increasingly stringent energy efficiency requirements. 

Historic buildings can also benefit from new technology in the form of solar panels or shingles. 

What Being a Historic District Means (In Practice)

Myths About Historic Districts

They don't contribute  to the local economy

What about Affordability

It's just a bunch of old single family homes whose residents don't want change

I can't restore or improve my property

Just demolish it all and build new stuff

Economic Vitality

Historic District carry more than their fair share of impact on the local economy.  Historic resources are finite and cannot be replaced, making them precious commodities that many people value. Preservation tends to enhance the attraction and appreciation of neighborhoods. Where local historic districts are established, property values typically are stable where they might have been previously declining. Designation of a historic district appears to establish a climate for enhanced stability, civic pride, and further personal investment in the area.  

Affordable Housing

Historic neighborhoods are the perfect intersection of affordability and beauty.  

Many think that putting up new high-rises over-developing is the answer, but Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation says that creating affordable housing and retaining urban character are not competing goals. In fact, Meeks says the two actually foster each other, and tearing down old buildings won’t make our cities more affordable or inviting.

She writes: In city after city, [the National Trust] has found that neighborhoods with older, smaller buildings and mixed-age blocks tend to provide more units of affordable rental housing, defined as housing whose monthly rent is a third or less of that city’s median income... areas of older, smaller buildings and mixed-age blocks boast 33 percent more new business jobs, 46 percent more small business jobs, and 60 percent more women- and minority-owned businesses. 

They are also denser than newer areas. Relatively low-slung, human-scale neighborhoods with older fabric of cities and can achieve surprisingly high population densities.

Simply put, older blocks often offer more affordable housing options than newer areas of the city, while creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for urban residents of all incomes. At a time when cities are struggling with the high costs of adding new affordable housing, making better use of the tremendous adaptive potential of under-used existing buildings is a proven way forward that sidesteps many of the problems posed by demolition for new construction.

Of course, in many cities, new construction is also needed to keep pace with growing numbers of residents. But this new development doesn’t have to dwarf established neighborhoods or demolish existing urban fabric to accommodate growth. There are opportunities for sensitive and compatible infill that can enrich urban character rather than diminish it.

Density and Urban Form

Winn Park is a pre-WWII neighborhood, before the era of cars and the mass exodus to the suburbs. This neighborhood was designed dense and still is. The idea that we're not a dense area or need more density is untrue. We already are the ideal walkalbe urban neighborhood with a diverse mix of single family homes, duplexes, apartments and condominiums. 

While there are many historic single family homes, there are also many more mult-family (apartments) structures and commercial buildings equally deserving of protection and polices that keep them in use for decades to come. 

I Can't Repair or Improve My Property

Perhaps the biggest myth of all. Owning a historic property does NOT mean you cannot repair or improve it. Most repairs require a building permit whether or not the property is in a historic district. In Sacramento, most in-kind exterior repairs such a fence replacement or siding repair, even for a historic property can be done over the counter. Almost all interior work does not require additional levels of review, and follows standard permitting processes. Only some exterior work such as new/ replaced windows or stairs/ porches require a preservation staff review.  For example, most electrical and plumbing work requires the same permit as if you were not in a District. You can  paint your building any color you wish without a permit. Major remodeling requires staff review. Major changes such as additions or accessory buildings require site plan review even if the property is not in a historic district. The city provides detailed information on repairs and remodels on their webpage; https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Planning/Urban-Design/Preservation

Just Build New Stuff

According to City data; about half of all new housing in the entire City of Sacramento build since 2006 has been in the Central City, and most of that has been in Midtown. We are building new buildings, lots of them. Historic Districts are not cast in amber and unable to change; quite the opposite. They've shown their resilience and ability to adapt to change much better than many areas outside the Central City. 

However, Midtown should not and cannot be expected to take all the growth needed in our city. While there are still vacant lots and parking lots that can bu built on, we need more housing downtown and citywide. All neighborhoods should share equally in contributing to new housing city wide.