Oh, the irony.
An inspector in the city of Santa Fe’s Historic Preservation Division has red-tagged the home of his boss — Land Use Director Carol Johnson, who is the city’s chief building officer — for failing to obtain a building permit for work on her house.
“This building in a historic district is not in compliance with the city of Santa Fe,” reads a violation notice stapled on a wooden post outside Johnson’s home in the 700 block of Dunlap Street, which she shares with her husband, Kevin Kellogg, who also works for the city as its asset development manager.
“Should compliance not be adhered to, a citation will be issued and you will be subject to” penalties, states the notice, which orders a halt to work at the home, which sits in a neighborhood near downtown, between Agua Fría Street and St. Francis Drive, just south of the Santa Fe River.
In a brief interview Tuesday at City Hall, Johnson said her husband has been dealing with the construction project. She did not respond to a follow-up email requesting additional comment.
Kellogg, in an email Tuesday evening, blamed the weather for his decision to get started on the work before he had a permit in hand.
“As the weather report is showing snow coming, and the ground has already frozen once, I installed some of the fence posts into the ground, fearing the frozen ground would delay the fence project for some time,” he said.
Inspector Gary Moquino said he was driving around the Westside-Guadalupe Historic District on Monday when he noticed that work at the couple’s approximately 1,700-square-foot historic home was underway. It was unclear if he knew the home belonged to Johnson when he posted the red tag.
“That’s my job,” Moquino said of the violation notice. “I drive around and make sure everybody has a permit.”
Construction work must stop when a property is red-tagged, he added. “It’s a stop-work order.”
Johnson became the city’s land use director in July 2018 under the administration of Mayor Alan Webber. Before joining the city, she had been the planning and development director of Maricopa County, Ariz., where Phoenix is located, and also worked in planning and development in Berkeley, Calif.
Kellogg — who began working for the city in April following a six-month stint as executive director of the nonprofit Housing Trust in Santa Fe — said in his email he understands the importance of the city’s historic and building codes “and why we have the strict process we have, and I support them wholeheartedly. I realize that I got ahead of myself and I regret that. I will wait for the permit to be issued before completing the fence.”
Documents show Kellogg applied for a building permit from the city Nov. 11. His application describes the project as “several vehicle entry gates and pedestrian gates placed on both sides and behind residence.”
Construction work began while part of the permit was still under review.
“There’s no way they could’ve started working,” said Robert Ortiz, a building permit specialist in the Land Use Department, in an interview Tuesday. “You have to wait until this [permit] is issued.” Johnson and Kellogg haven’t even received a yellow construction board to post at the home, notifying the public about the construction project, he added.
Ortiz said he’s been out in the field with Moquino as he inspects properties for signs of violations. However, he said, most violations are discovered through complaints, especially within the city’s five historic districts.
“You’ve got the neighbors calling 80 percent of the time,” Ortiz said.
The work at Johnson and Kellogg’s house is apparently tied to a request Kellogg had taken to the city’s Historic Districts Review Board in February. Kellogg sought permission to build a 964-square-foot detached casita, a 601-square-foot detached garage, a greenhouse and nearly 5-foot-tall “yard walls with vehicle and pedestrian gates.”
Kellogg disclosed at the beginning of his presentation before the Historic Districts Review Board that he was married to the city’s land use director, according to the minutes of the meeting.
The board approved the request 4-2 with a number of conditions, including that the yard walls be no more than 4 feet 4 inches high and that both garage doors have windows.
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.