Fight over historic urns spawns Web site

Atherton council to weigh revised rules Wednesday

An Atherton couple is taking the fight against the town's historic preservation ordinance online, with a Web site and petition asking that the regulations be rescinded.

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the City Council plans to consider revisions to its historic artifacts ordinance.

Local developers Randy and Lisa Lamb lost a battle with the town to move a pair of large urns from the Lindenwood neighborhood to their new house in another part of Atherton, after a contingent of residents objected vociferously.

However, the Lambs won their subsequent lawsuit against the town. A San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled that the Atherton City Council acted "capriciously" in denying the Lambs permission to move their urns. The court ordered the town to clarify its regulations regarding historic artifacts, and then revisit the Lambs' request to move the urns, which are currently located in the backyard of their former house in Lindenwood.

Atherton, unlike many other communities, doesn't have rules in place to protect historic buildings. However, in 2006, the City Council enacted preservation rules for historic artifacts <0x2014> the urns, streetlights, statues, and other remnants of the former Flood estate that dot the Lindenwood subdivision.

Under the ordinance, property owners need the town's permission to remove, demolish or alter historic artifacts.

The Lambs are asking Atherton residents to petition the council to do away with the ordinance entirely, and they have outlined their arguments on a new Web site, .

Revised ordinance

Town staff's proposed changes to the ordinance include defining the boundaries of the "Lindenwood Historic Artifacts District," and clarifying that while property owners can petition to keep an artifact off the publicly available inventory list, the ordinance won't circumvent the town's ability to regulate the objects.

Information about the proposed amendments to the ordinance are on the town of Atherton's Web site at [To view the information, click here.

The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is held in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.


Posted by Artifact Owner, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 13, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I am an artifact owner and I think this ordinance is riddled with problems. The first test of how well it worked shows that it has inherent problems. The people of the Town need to know what truly is at stake in our Town. To say that this Ordinance does not affect property values was proven wrong when the first property that had an artifact was sold back in 2005 or 2006. The original purchaser backed out of the contract because he/she was not allowed to donate the the fountain located on the property to the Town of Atherton. He was even willing to pay for the move of the fountain to Holbrook Palmer Park. The property subsequently sold for $200,000.00 less than the first persons offer. This in my book affected the seller's property value! By the way, did I mention the person who purchased the house for $200,000.00 less is the one person who is leading the charge on the ordinance and sits on many of the Town's committess who makes all of these ordinances up.

While I agree in preservation, I do not agree in the taking of private property. I do not agree that the people of the entire Town of Atherton should not be allowed to weigh in on this issue. This Ordinance has already cost the Town over $130,000.00 and is still climbing. Why should all of Atherton have to pay for this when only Lindenwood was made aware of it and the only ones affected by it! Perhaps we should have the LHA start paying for all the costs they have incurred. Why is all of Atherton paying for it? Is this really where we want our tax dollars going? Will you vote for the parcel tax if this is how the current council agrees to spend our tax dollars.

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