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Historic Preservation in Santa Cruz

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Historic Preservation 1

clockwise from top, H.M. Hanmore House, 1880's; Judge William Blackburn house, 1850's; W. Holmes House, 1920's; Henry Weeks Home, 1886


Historic Property Zoning Incentives Ordinance

On December 11, 2012, the City Council adopted the historic property zoning incentives ordinance (Ordinance No. 2012-19). These zoning incentives are available for use by City-listed historic properties. As called for in the 2030 City General Plan, the ordinance amendments expand existing zoning variations allowed for buildings and properties either individually listed or contributing buildings located within historic districts. The ordinance is intended to benefit existing listed properties, and to create valuable incentives so that Volume III Survey property owners will want to be listed to be eligible to use them.

The ordinance allows Variations to Development Standards which include provisions for larger accessory dwelling units, a 15-percent parking bonus, and waiver of the covered parking, front yard parking and tandem parking requirements. The ordinance also allows Variations to Uses for limited allowances for multi-family residential uses in R-1 (single-family residential) zones, offices in residential zones near commercially-zoned properties, expansion of non-conforming single-family homes in RL and RM zone districts, and expansion of other non-conforming structures and uses.

The Findings section of the ordinance requires findings to assure that project utilizing the various incentives also involve the preservation, maintenance and rehabilitation of a historic building; result in a project which is compatible with the neighborhood; and do not result in detrimental traffic or parking impacts.

Historic Building Survey - Volume III

In March 2013, the City Council adopted Volume III of the City Historic Building Survey. Volume III was prepared by the City under the direction of Leslie Dill, historic, architect. Local public historians Charlene Duval and Jessica Kusz, as well as historians Kara Oosterhous and Amber Grady, conducted research on individual properties, and architectural historian Franklin Maggi as well as Leslie Dill evaluated the selections for historical significance. The third volume of the historic building survey looked at additional properties not previously surveyed, particularly those associated with mid-twentieth century architecture, older resources that had been missed in the earlier surveys, and main-made features in the environment such as walls, stairs, hitching posts, and ponds.

Epworth House


What is the background of historic preservation in the City of Santa Cruz?

As a result of the City’s Historic Preservation Plan, adopted in 1974 as an element of the General Plan, the Historic Preservation Commission and the Historic Preservation Ordinance were established to protect the City’s historic and architectural resources.

The City commissioned Volume I of the Historic Building Survey in 1976 to identify and evaluate historic and architecturally significant structures deserving protection. The survey, conducted by the firm of Charles Hall Page and Associates identified 306 properties drawing primarily from John Chase’s Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, which was first published in 1975. Volume I of the survey covered architectural development in the City from approximately 1850 to 1930.

Criteria for inclusion in the survey were a variation of the Kalman Methodology, a numerical ranking system that evaluated historical significance, architectural significance, importance to the neighborhood, original design, neighborhood setting, and physical condition. All properties in the 1976 survey were officially listed and protected under the City historic preservation policies and regulations.

1920's Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and CasinoIn 1989, Volume II of the Historic Building Survey was produced with selections and research provided by John Chase’s Sidewalk Companion. This volume catalogues a total of 247 additional structures from three categories. These include: significant buildings from 1930 to 1950, important structures not included in the first survey, and significant vernacular buildings from 1850 to 1910 which comprise approximately one half of the structures in Volume II. Neighborhood context was emphasized in Volume II, with a focus on contiguous rows of historic buildings. More than 90% of properties in Volume II of the Survey have been listed officially.

What are the City's historic designation types?

The City of Santa Cruz presently has four types of historic designations:

  • Historic Landmarks: Buildings of greatest significance in architecture or history, 26 are presently listed on the current City Historic Building Survey;
  • Historic Resources: Buildings that add to the historic context of the City, listed on the City Historic Building Survey;
  • Historic Districts: Buildings located in delineated areas of the City that share a similar architectural or historic theme. Districts are listed on the City Historic Building Survey;
  • Neighborhood Conservation Areas: Delineated areas of the City that contains historic buildings that do not necessarily share a common historic theme or similar architecture which need a minimum amount of protection under the Zoning Ordinance. Such areas are not yet listed on the Historic Building Survey; however, some individual buildings within a conservation district may be listed.