Sunday, November 20, 2016

Settlement reached in Oak View neigborhood, home to National Treasure Historic Wintersburg

ABOVE: Broadcast media line up to cover the press conference detailing the settlement between Republic Services (parent company of former Rainbow Environmental Serivces) and Ocean View School District. At left is Vice President for Republic Services, Dave Hauser, and at right, Ocean View School District Board of Trustees president, Gina Clayton-Tarvin. (Photo, M. Urashima, November 16, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

   Settlement to multi-year litigation was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, for the Ocean View School District (OVSD) and Republic Services, the parent company of the former Rainbow Environmental Services (Rainbow).  Republic Services owns the Historic Wintersburg property, as of their purchase of Rainbow Environmental two years ago.  

   OVSD filed a complaint against Rainbow in 2013, after the Huntington Beach City Council approved by split vote a rezoning of the Historic Wintersburg property to commercial-industrial, including an action to demolish all six historic structures.  The OVSD complaint included the re-zoning, along with their air quality concerns.  

RIGHT: Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force chair and author, Mary Urashima (right), with Glenn Tanaka, owner of Orange County, California's Tanaka Farms, a supporter of the historic preservation effort. (Photo, October 8, 2015) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force was formed in mid 2012 by the Huntington Beach City Council, after the creation of this blog in February 2012.  Task Force chair Mary Urashima has been actively researching and working toward the preservation of the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission for almost nine years.  She worked with a film crew on the PBS program, Our American Family: The Furutas, with a premier screening at the Japanese American National Museum.  The program aired nationally on PBS stations in 2015 and 2016.  Urashima's book Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach (History Press) was published in 2014.   

   Historic Wintersburg was named one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2014, and at the end of 2015, designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington D.C. through the advocacy of the Task Force.  

   It is deemed potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A, Japanese American settlement of the American West, by the National Park Service---who inspected the property in mid 2013 at the request of the Task Force and then Huntington Beach mayor, Connie Boardman---and National Trust for Historic Preservation, who first inspected the property in May 2014.  The Historic Wintersburg Task Force has provided workshops and tours for the Consul General of Japan, the California Preservation Foundation, a Sister Cities delegation from Anjo, Japan, and media from around the country.

LEFT: A crowd gathers from around the community to witness the settlement announcement, made in front of the Oak View Elementary School adjacent to Historic Wintersburg. (Photo, M. Urashima, November 16, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

   As outlined at the November 16 press conference, the settlement includes full enclosure of waste transfer operations to improve air quality and odor in the Oak View neighborhood, screening trees in the area between the school property and the waste transfer station, payment of legal fees, and up to $4 million for the construction of a new gymnasium on the Oak View Elementary School property.  OVSD also secured that no waste transfer operations of any kind will expand to the Historic Wintersburg property, notification for any "development, construction, demolition, or renovation activities...or any change or intensification" of the property, and "first right of refusal" should Republic Services decide to sell the Historic Wintersburg property.

RIGHT: Dave Hauser, Vice President of Republic Services, and Gina Clayton-Tarvin, president of the Ocean View School District board of trustees, after the settlement press conference. (Photo, M. Urashima, November 16, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 
Gina Clayton-Tarvin, president of the board of trustees for OVSD, clarified in a Facebook past for the Oak View neighborhood on November 17.

   "No inappropriate development at the Historic Wintersburg Site will occur. A recorded Agreement Between Property Owners will prevent the Historic Wintersburg Site from ever being used for an expansion of Rainbow’s solid waste operations, storage of garbage trucks, and various other uses inappropriate for a location adjacent to a preschool," Clayton-Tarvin explained, "The School District will have an option to purchase the Wintersburg Site at fair market value, and a right of first refusal in case Rainbow decides to sell the property to developers. These rights are assignable to other governmental entities or historical societies that may wish to purchase the property to develop a historical park facility on the site."

LEFT: Big smiles after the press conference. (Left to right) Huntington Beach City Council Member and liaison to the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force, Erik Peterson, Republic Services Vice President, Dave Hauser, ComUNIDAD member Victor Valladares, OVSD board of trustees candidate, Patricia Singer, ComUNIDAD member Miguel Zamudio, and ComUNIDAD member Oscar Rodriguez. ComUNIDAD is an Oak View neighborhood organization advocating for community improvement. (Photo, M. Urashima, November 16, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

   There currently are ongoing discussions between the City of Huntington Beach, Republic Services and the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force regarding the next step toward historic preservation, with a heritage park goal. 

RIGHT: The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force worked with Republic Services during recent street work and tree planting at Historic Wintersburg, providing volunteer cultural monitoring. This large enamelware bowl is one of the artifacts found buried in the earth, south of the 1910 Wintersburg Japanese Mission. More site investigation and cultural monitoring will occur on the property, as the preservation effort proceeds. (Photo, M. Urashima, August 24, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

   Clayton-Tarvin also personally assured the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force that OVSD's effort is to support heritage conservation, in keeping with the nine-year effort to save Historic Wintersburg.  Along with Republic Services, the Oak View community, the City of Huntington Beach, and heritage preservation experts, OVSD will be one of the stakeholders to provide input during the visioning and planning for Historic Wintersburg, which will include educational programming

   Congratulations are in order for OVSD and Republic Services in resolving an issue in a manner that also provides additional protection for the National Treasure Historic Wintersburg.  This is Orange County, California's first and only National Treasure historic place and one of two representing the history of Japanese Americans.  We look forward to announcing the path forward in the conservation and restoration of this rare and important American history.  

RIGHT: Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force chair, Mary Urashima, provides a tour to a group from the California Preservation Foundation during national Asian American Heritage Month in May 2013. The group pauses in front of the 1912 Furuta bungalow, contemplating the monumental civil liberties history represented. Urashima is now serving on the California Preservation Foundation's statewide historic preservation advocacy commitee. (Photo, Chris Jepsen, May 3, 2013) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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