HAYWARD -- The Planning Commission will consider Thursday a request from Caltrans to designate eight homes the agency owns as historical structures, which would qualify them for lower property taxes, potentially by 50 percent or more.
Most of the houses are on B and C streets, with one on Chestnut Street.
Caltrans bought the houses in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the intention of eventually tearing them down for the Route 238 Hayward Bypass Project. The bypass plan was abandoned, and Caltrans has started selling the houses, according to the city. Caltrans representatives familiar with the situation were not available to comment.
The houses would be the first structures added to Hayward's register of historical resources since 2001. The last one was the Hunts Cannery water tower, said Richard Patenaude, city planning manager.
"Generally with residential properties, the decision to have the house listed on a local historic register is voluntary," Patenaude said. However, for the house to be eligible for any tax incentives, it must be on the register. "The tax savings are not automatic," Patenaude said. The property owners would have to apply for a contract with the city.
"There have been some properties in the state that have seen a reduction in property taxes of 50 percent to two-thirds," Patenaude said. The owner would have to use any tax savings on improvements to the home.
He said two buyers have expressed interested in purchasing the homes from Caltrans. When the house change hands, Hayward would draw up contracts with the news owners, following guidelines outlined in the state Mills Act. The legislation gives local governments the authority to enter into such contracts to restore and preserve historic buildings.
Another benefit of being included on the city's registry is that owners could follow historic building codes rather than current ones.
"We are still developing some of the incentives," Patenaude said.
In 1986, Caltrans surveyed the houses and decided they were not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. A state historic preservation officer agreed, according to a staff report.
However, the city included them in a list of historically significant structures in 2010. Caltrans architectural historians re-evaluated the properties, and found that they were eligible for the national register.
The houses are at 1436, 1442, 1465 and 1471 B St.; 1421, 1431 and 1444 C St.; and 22589 Chestnut St. They include a Neoclassical cottage and a Colonial Revival house, both built about 1905; four Queen Anne cottages built around 1880; a Queen Anne dating back to 1885; and a Greek Revival house built in 1875. They are in a neighborhood the city considers a potential historic district, Patenaude said.
The area includes some of Hayward's first residential tracts, according to a staff report. It also is associated with Hayward's early Portuguese residents, many of whom settled there because it is near All Saints Church, the IDES Hall and downtown.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Hayward City Council Chambers, 777 B St.