Historic Design Guidelines

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The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (Revised 1983). See below for a summary. Download the full, 37 page document.

The Secretary of the Interior's 10 Standards for Rehabilitation

The Standards (Department of Interior regulations, 36 CFR 67) pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes, and occupancy and encompass the exterior and the interior, related landscape features and the building's site and environment as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction. The Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility. The City of Santa Cruz does not apply these Standards to the interior of listed historic buildings

  • A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
  • The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
  • Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
  • Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
  • Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.
  • Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
  • Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.
  • Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
  • New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
  • New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

24.08.930 Findings Required for approval of City Historic Alteration Permits

Prior to approval or modified approval, the historic preservation commission or zoning administrator shall find that:

  • The action proposed is consistent with the purposes of historic preservation as set forth in Section 24.12.400 of this title and in the Cultural Resources Element of the General Plan; and one of the following three findings:
  • The project complies with Standards for Rehabilitation approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior; and that the project’s:
    • architectural design;
    • height and bulk of buildings and structures;
    • lot coverage and orientation of buildings;
    • color and texture of surface materials;
    • grading and site development;
    • landscaping;
    • changes to natural features;
    • antennas, satellite dishes and solar collectors;
    • off-street parking, signs;
    • light fixtures and street furniture;
    • steps, walls, doors, windows, screens and security grills;
    • yards and setbacks
  • protect and preserve the historic and architectural qualities and the physical characteristics which make the building, structure, or property a contributing feature of the landmark, historic building survey building or historic district; or
  • The applicant has demonstrated that the action proposed is necessary to correct an unsafe or dangerous condition on the property pursuant to Section 24.08.940; or
  • The applicant has demonstrated that denial of the application will result in immediate and substantial economic hardship that denies the applicant the ability to make reasonable beneficial use of the property or the ability to obtain a reasonable return from the property.

(Ord. 99-17 § 6, 1999: Ord. 99-06 § 2, 1999: Ord. 94-33 § 22, 1994: Ord. 91-13 § 1, 1991; Ord. 86-13 § 2 (part), 1986: Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).

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