News Details

City Council Moves Forward with Potential Historic District

On February 3, 2021 the Norco City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the potential establishment of an Equestrian-Themed Historic District designed to preserve the unique character of Horsetown USA, a community of rural character that welcomes an animal-keeping lifestyle. As part of this action, the Council authorized a budget of $28,000 for Bill Wilkman, the City’s Cultural Resources Consultant, to explore the feasibility of establishing such a district, creating the necessary documents and conducting the appropriate research.

Norco’s large-lot, agricultural zoning constitutes a historical place worthy of formal designation, and an Equestrian-Themed Historic District would commemorate Norco’s agrarian roots and honor the community’s culture. The lifestyle cherished by Norconians is currently jeopardized by overly aggressive developers and state legislation that tends to apply uniform land use policies to every community, without regard to their own distinct personalities. An Equestrian-Themed Historic District is a potential means of preserving Norco’s unique characteristics and lifestyle. The proposed Historic District would encompass all of the properties in the City’s “A” zoning district, affecting 5,748 residential owners.

In his presentation to the City Council on February 3, Mr. Wilkman stated his proposed contract would include working with City communications staff to conduct outreach to the affected areas, including activating a hotline to respond to all resident inquiries. He explained that unlike a historic district based on architecture, not every property would be individually surveyed or catalogued, but rather the equestrian/agrarian elements of affecting the District as a whole. Responding to Council questions, Mr. Wilkman indicated that individual property rights would not be compromised, nor would the underlying zoning. In architecture-based districts, property owners are subject to strict regulations when they wish to renovate their homes or construct additions, but such restrictions would not apply to property owners in the Equestrian-Themed Historic District envisioned for Norco.

Mr. Wilkman indicated that in most similar ordinances, objections of more than 50% of the affected property owners are sufficient to prevent a Historic District from moving forward, but the City Council has the authority to craft its own specific provisions. The City Attorney clarified that the City Council could also determine exactly what requirements or responsibilities, if any, would be expected of property owners within the District. Some sentiment was expressed that the equestrian trails on Sixth Street—which would not technically be included based on the zoning—should be identified as contributing to the character of the Historic District, as well as the open space along the banks of the Santa Ana River. There was also a suggestion that the Historic District recognize Norco's unique agrarian heritage in addition to its equestrian lifestyle, and Mr. Wilkman indicated that the City Council would have the ability to do so.

The City Council emphasized the importance of thorough public outreach and Mr. Wilkman pledged to work closely with City staff to ensure that all affected property owners are properly educated on the merits of, and process of creating, an Equestrian-Themed Historic District.

For more information, contact the City of Norco at (951) 270-5644 or info@ci.norco.ca.us.