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Planning and Community Development Department

  • Design & Historic Preservation

  • Landmark Designation


    For more information, contact the Design & Historic Preservation Section.

     

    1. What is a "landmark designation"? 
    2. What qualifies as a landmark? 
    3. How many properties have been designated as landmarks? 
    4. What are some examples of landmarks? 
    5. What is the process for landmark designation? 
    6. What are the criteria for designation of a landmark? 
    7. What are the criteria for designation of a monument? 
    8. What effect does designation have? 
    9. May designated landmarks be altered? 
    10. How long does it take for the Commission to review changes? 
    11. May the Commission prohibit the demolition of a designated landmark? 
    12. Will landmark designation restrict the use of a property? 




    What is a "landmark designation"?
     
    Designation is an action that recognizes and legally protects certain areas, buildings, structures, objects, natural features, and works of art which have significant historic, cultural, architectural, and aesthetic value as part of the heritage of the City, the State, or the Country.

     




    What qualifies as a landmark?
     
    According to the Historic Preservation Ordinance, Chapter 17.62 of the Pasadena Municipal Code, a landmark property must contribute to the historic, cultural or architectural heritage of the City.  Historic significance may mean that a significant person or group is associated with the property or that an important event occurred there.  Architectural significance may be attributed to the quality of a design, a work by a distinguished architect, or the contribution of a building to its surroundings.

     




    How many properties have been designated as landmarks?
     
    Pasadena has designated over 130 local properties as landmarks or historic monuments.  A database designated historic properties can be accessed at www.cityofpasadena.net/Planning/CHRID.

     



    What are some examples of landmarks?
     
    The Colorado Street Bridge (1913), the Gamble House (1908), Pasadena City Hall (1927), the Morton Bay Fig Tree (planted 1880), the Hermitage (1869), and the Perkins house (1955) are some examples of City landmarks.

     




    What is the process for landmark designation?
     
    Anyone may file an application to begin the nomination process; often, a property owner initiates the designation. The staff first reviews an application for a nomination, an if approved forwards it to the Historic Preservation Commission.
    If the Commission determines that the nominated cultural resource merits designation, it forwards a recommendation to the City Council.  The Council, at a noticed public hearing, may approve the nomination and direct that it be recorded in the office of the Los Angeles County Recorder.

     




    What are the criteria for landmark designation?
     
    The Commission uses the criteria below to evaluate historic resources for historic landmark designation (Zoning Code, Chapter 17.62.40).  The criteria are:  

     

    1. It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the city’s history of the city.  
    2. It is associated with the lives of persons who are significant in the history of the city.  
    3. It embodies the distinctive characteristics of a locally significant historic resource property type, architectural style, period, or method of construction, or that represents the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder who is locally significant, or that possesses high artistic values that are locally significant.  
    4. It has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important locally in prehistory or history.




    What are the criteria for designation of a monument?

    The Commission uses the criteria below to evaluate historic resources for historic monument designation (Zoning Code, Chapter 17.62.40).  The criteria are:

     

    1. It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the history of the region, state or nation.  
    2. It is associated with the lives of persons who are significant in the history of the region, state or nation.  
    3. It is exceptional in the embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of a historic resource property type, period, architectural style or method of construction, or that is an exceptional representation of the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose work is significant to the region, state or nation, or that possesses high artistic values that are of regional, state-wide or national significance.  
    4. It has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history of the region, state or nation.  
    5. A historic monument designation may include significant public or semi-public interior spaces and features.  


    What effect does designation have?
     
    Designation brings about design review of exterior alterations (and designated interiors).  It may also increase the value of a property.  Owners of designated landmarks may take advantage of incentives such as the State Historical Building Code (SHBC), which provides flexibility in complying with portions of the building code.  Owners of designated properties may also apply for a Historic Property Contract.

     




    May designated landmarks be altered?
     
    Yes, if the alterations comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.  The Historic Preservation Commission reviews major alterations to designated historic properties.  City staff reviews minor projects.
    If an alteration complies with the Standards, the Commission issues a Certificate of Appropriateness, which allows an applicant to proceed with an application for a building permit.  If an alteration does not comply with the Standards, the Commission or staff may deny approval of the project.
     




    How long does it take for the Commission to review changes?
     
    Typical review time for Historic Preservation Commission review is 6-8 weeks from the date of submittal.  Applications reviewed by the Commission also require public notice and may take longer to review if there are other land use entitlements, legislative actions, or environmental studies affecting the property.  Staff reviews typically take 4-6 weeks.

     




    May the Commission prohibit the demolition of a designated landmark?
     
    Yes, the Commission reviews the demolition of any potentially significant historic resource and may deny applications for demolition and major alteration of a designated historic resource.  Also, any historic resource, including designated landmarks, cannot be demolished without a replacement building permit or a special waiver from this requirement (see Replacement Building Permit for more information).  All decisions by the Commission may be appealed to the City Council.

     




    Will landmark designation restrict the use of a property?
     
    No. Designation has no effect whatsoever on uses permitted by the Zoning Code.  In some cases, a landmark may have some non-conforming uses, such as small offices, within certain residential areas.