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San Diego Uptown News | Dec. 9–Dec. 22, 2011


Kensington residents self-impose tax increase to preserve its charm

By Logan Broyles SDUN Reporter

Kensington is known for its 1920s-style architecture, with Spanish inspired homes dotting tree-lined streets. However, con- struction projects planned for the next two years may disrupt a part of the neighborhood’s charm; proposed projects would replace Kensington’s historic streetlights and the lampposts that hold them with generic ones. For Kensington residents like

Don Taylor, preserving tradition is more important than keeping extra cash in their pockets. Tay- lor organized a group of residents that have proposed a $75 increase to their annual property taxes to help save the historic lights. The tax revenue would be spent on installing and maintain- ing decorative lights and replac- ing the generic streetlights that have already been installed in some areas of Kensington. “The historic street lights in Kensington add to each neighbor- hood’s character and property values,” says Taylor. The historic streetlights were installed in the 1920s when the neighborhood was first develop- ing. Over the years, many became damaged and the City replaced them with generic light fixtures. “This historic charm is part

of the reason many of us choose to live in these older neighbor- hoods,” says David Moty, Chair

(Photo courtesy of Councilmember Todd Gloria)

of the Kensington-Talmadge Neighborhood Planning Group. “These eight-decade old non- cobra head street lights are part of what makes our neighborhood special to us.”

The City has told Kensington

residents they must raise their own money if they want to prevent the lampposts from being replaced. The City will pay up to $1,500 per light, the basic cost of generic lights. The decorative lights can cost $6,000 to $9,000 apiece. Taylor’s proposal calls for dividing the neighborhood into five separate Maintenance

Assessment Districts (MADs) covering the sub-neighborhoods of Kensington Manor, Kensing- ton Heights, Talmadge Park, Kensington Park North of Adams Avenue and Kensington Park South of Adams Avenue. Zones like these are often used so that individual neighborhoods can pay for special services that the City won’t provide for them. The designers of the proposal decided to divide the area into five parts because a previous, similar proposal had been voted down. It was voted down because certain areas were more willing to pay for the lamps than others were. Each MAD would hold its own vote to decide whether residents are willing to pay to preserve the lampposts. Members of Taylor’s group acknowledge it could take years to replace all the lights and that it would have to be a gradual effort, replacing a few at a time. Even if all five MADs vote in favor of the tax increase, it could still take five to 10 years to get all the lamps replaced. Some local citizens have voiced concerns that the proposal will create divisions in the neigh- borhood, but Taylor disagrees. “The street-lighting needs of each Kensington neighborhood are very different,” Taylor said. “Combining all neighborhoods in a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not be as effective. We’re focused on finding the most realistic solution possible so that we can preserve our neighborhood.”u

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