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Committee to look at church preservation

H.B. City Council votes unanimously to create group to study possibility of maintaining historic buildings.

July 17, 2012|By Michael Miller

The Huntington Beach City Council voted unanimously Monday to form an ad hoc committee to study fundraising options for preserving and relocating a group of historic Japanese church buildings.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman requested last week that the council vote on whether to direct staff to analyze possible relocation spots for the historic structures, which date as far back as 1909 and comprise a church, mission, manse, farmhouse and barn.

Instead, the council approved a different motion to form the committee, which will include Boardman, Councilmen Matthew Harper and Joe Shaw and other community members.

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Among those who may join the committee are members of the city's Historic Resources Board and a representative from Rainbow Environmental Services, the waste management company that owns the property where the buildings reside, according to Boardman.

The councilwoman, who has toured the fenced-off site, said she doesn't know if it's possible to move the buildings, but wants the city to make its best effort.

"I don't know whether they're sound enough to be moved," she said. "I don't know where in the city they could be moved to. These buildings tell a story of a very different culture and Japanese American immigration into Orange County that's largely unknown to a lot of people in Huntington Beach.

"They're historically significant, and I want to make sure we look at all the alternatives with the development of that site."

Planning Manager Mary Beth Broeren said the city is awaiting completion of an environmental impact report that will analyze the structures' historical significance and the consequences of demolishing them. Rainbow Environmental Services, which has owned the property since 2004, seeks to remove the structures and have the land rezoned from residential to commercial/industrial use.

Company officials have said they will contribute funds to have the buildings moved if a plan materializes to relocate them.

Boardman said when she spoke with staff, she learned that the proposed impact report did not include an analysis of whether it was feasible to move the buildings or where in the city they could be relocated. She mentioned Bartlett Park, Irby Park and Huntington Central Park as three locations worth assessing.

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