State Historical Building Code Historic Preservation

The State Historical Building Code applies to qualified historical buildings and structures as defined by the State Historical Building Code. Qualified historical buildings and structures is defined in Chapter 2, section 8-218 of the California Historical Building Code and includes any building, site, structure, object, district or collection of structures, and their associated sites.

What is Preservation?

State Historical Building Code and Preservation

The State Historical Building Code is a preservation program. The functions of the State Historical Building Code include: The State Historical Building Safety Board with authority to write regulations that affect buildings, districts, sites, properties, structures, and objects; interpretation of the State Historical Building Code regulations and statutes; consultation, review and appellate authority over use of the State Historical Building Code regulations and statutes.

The State Historical Building Code provides a definition of qualified historical structure or property, and can determine if a structure or property is qualified. The designation of a qualified historical structure or property is the responsibility of the California State Office of Historic Preservation or the local jurisdiction where the resources reside.

The basic criteria for qualification of a structure or property are administered by the National Register (NR) program of the National Park Service. In California, those responsibilities are delegated to the Office of Historic Preservation. The Office of Historic Preservation administers the National Register and has created and administers the California Register, a similar listing. The Office of Historic Preservation delegates authority to cities and counties as “certified local governments” to apply NR criteria for creating local lists of historical structures and properties. There are also local governments and agencies that designate structures and properties as historical outside of the Office of Historic Preservation program.

Places to Look to Find if your Property is “Qualified”

The Office of Historic Preservation

Computer lists of the National Register and California Register

Local Planning Office

The planning department is most usually the best place to find local lists.

Local Heritage or History Commissions

These governmental organizations can create and have a list. Local neighborhood or preservation organizations: these groups may have access to official lists, but can't create official lists.

Local Neighborhood or Preservation Organizations

These groups may have access to official lists, but can't create official lists.

Local, State and Federal Agencies that Promulgate Projects

Many agencies that create, fund and accomplish capitol projects are subject to California Environmental Quality Act. One of the processes of California Environmental Quality Act is to identify and declare eligibility for all historical properties that could be affected by the project. Properties identified in those projects and declared eligible are “qualified.” Those lists are usually not distributed widely. Contact any agency that may have had a project in your vicinity. The environmental divisions of Caltrans, Department of Water Resources, Department of General Services/Real Estate Services Division, local water agencies, local public works departments are places to query.

Other Options

Petition your local jurisdiction for an individual designation, create a NR nomination and apply to the Office of Historic Preservation, or petition the Office of Historic Preservation for a finding of eligibility.

What is a Historic Structures Report?

This is a study of the historical building, structure or property that identifies the history, style, construction, the historically significant and character defining features and fabric and often includes a description of the condition of the structure interior and exterior.

What is Character Defining Features and Fabric?

Preservation Brief 17: Architectural Character

Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving Their Character. Lee H. Nelson, FAIA.

This booklet provides essential guidance to help property owners and architects identify those features of historic buildings that give the building its visual character so that their preservation can be maximized in rehabilitation. 12 pages. 27 illustrations. 1988. To access this information click on the link below.

How to Read a Historical Building?

The Walk Through: Learn to Identify the Visual Character of a Historic Building

The web “Walk Through” service is specifically designed to help owners, architects, developers, maintenance personnel, and members of historic preservation commissions identify those tangible elements or features that give historic buildings their unique visual character. To access this web service, click on the link below.