Know the Neighbors
Old Towne Preservation Association
Old Towne Orange Preservation Association board members, from left: Mary Matuzak, public affairs director; Sue Vaurs, member; Jeff Frankel, preservation chair; Steve Bennett, recording secretary; Annalisa Goode, communications director.

It’s safe to say that Old Towne Orange wouldn’t be the town it is today if not for the efforts of the Old Towne Preservation Association (OTPA).

Founded in 1986, the non-profit organization strives to ensure that the city’s design standards ordinances are maintained throughout the historic district, be it residential, commercial or infrastructure.

“We are always available to meet with homeowners, property and business owners, and we try to reach out to the community,” said Jeff Frankel, preservation chair. “We can steer people in the right direction prior to a renovation project. If they know what’s required in advance and understand the city ordinances, it will be an easier experience for them when they go through the city’s review process.”

Through education and community outreach, the non-profit association has been key in preserving, protecting and enhancing Old Towne Orange. Designated a national historic district in 1997 and placed in the National Registry of Historic Places, Old Towne is the largest residential historic district in the state.

“Sometimes people have the misconception that we are the ones who are enforcing these standards, but these are city ordinances,” Jeff said. “We are advocates. We attend and comment at design review committee meetings and follow the projects through the process, as well as address other issues that arise at the planning commission and city council levels. We were heavily involved with the general plan update and are currently involved in design standard updates and the Santa Fe Depot specific plan update, both of which have been ongoing for a number of years. Without the OTPA, it is unlikely that there would be an established Old Towne Orange National Register District.”

With approximately 350 members, the association also holds educational meetings of interest to the community. Some gatherings feature prominent guest speakers, such as the lead docent of the historic Gamble House in Pasadena, for example. The annual home tour attracts thousands to experience first hand some of Old Towne’s most fascinating and stylish historic homes.

Through fundraising efforts, OTPA sponsors home-improvement programs for low-income, elderly or fixed-income individuals. The group also raises money for scholarships given to architectural students specializing in preservation-related subjects.

“We encourage people to contact us through our hotline, website or Facebook page for questions regarding the district,” Jeff said. “Our goal is to limit adverse impacts to our historic resources.”

Old Towne Orange Preservation Association
P.O. Box 828, Orange, CA 92856 / 714-639-6840

Published in the Jan/Feb 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Karen Anderson, Photograph by Jeanine Hill

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