For more information, contact the Design & Historic Preservation Section.
How does a neighborhood become a landmark district?Residents of a neighborhood begin the process by proposing a district and working with city staff to define the boundaries of the district and organize a community meeting to inform property owners of the affects of landmark district designation. The residents then petition the City for designation of a landmark district. At least 51% if affected property owners must sign the petition in support of the designation. Public hearings are held before the Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council. The City Council has the final authority to designate an area as a landmark district.
What are some examples of a landmark district?
What design guidelines are used in a landmark district?The City adopted Design Guidelines for Historic Districts to assist property owners with designing exterior alterations, additions or rehabilitations of their historic buildings. The design guidelines are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings and apply to city designated Landmark Districts and National Register Historic Districts. They also apply to the design of new buildings in the landmark's historic districts. The Historic Preservation Commission and the planning staff will use the guidelines when reviewing applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
How does designation as a landmark district affect my property?Landmark district designation does not affect the use or sale of the property. It does affect proposals for demolitions, exterior alterations, and new construction; these changes require design review and a “Certificate of Appropriateness” before the issuance of a building permit. City staff reviews minor projects; the Historic Preservation Commission reviews major projects. All decisions may be appealed.
What is the Historic Preservation Commission?The Historic Preservation Commission is a nine-member City Commission advisory board appointed by the City Council. The Commission’s main function is to protect historic resources in Pasadena through surveys, designations, and reviews of proposed changes to significant buildings. Members of the Commission are required to be knowledgeable about the City’s historic, architectural, and cultural heritage. The Commission meets twice a month on the first and third Mondays. Its meetings are open to the public.
What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?A Certificate of Appropriateness is an approval, in writing, which confirms that a proposed alteration complies with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and the Design Guidelines for Historic Districts. A certificate is required before a building permit can be issued.
How do I submit an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness?A completed application form, along with drawings, photos, and/or material samples, is submitted for review and approval to the Design and Historic Preservation Counter (Window 4) in the Permit Center. No fee is charged for this review. Applications must be approved before to beginning a project.
What are examples of changes that are commonly reviewed in a landmark district?Among the changes often reviewed in landmark districts are replacement of windows, reconstruction of front porches, additions, and new garages. A full list of projects requiring a certificate of appropriateness can be found in the Certificate of Application Review Packet.
What are examples of work that is exempt from design review?Exterior alterations not visible from the street, interior alterations, paint colors, landscaping, and routine maintenance are all exempt from review. Mechanical system upgrades are exempt if the work is not visible from the street.
In making repairs to my house, where can I find additional information or assistance?The Design & Historic Preservation counter (Window # 4) in the Permit Center has pamphlets and brochures about repairing or replacing historic features. Additional information is contained in the Design Guidelines for Historic Districts. Your neighborhood association or branch library may also have information. When replacement of original features is necessary, building supply stores, lumber yards, home and garden centers, woodworking shops, and architectural salvage yards are all sources of building materials that may be appropriate for properties in a landmark district. The City library system has magazines and reference books on historic building materials. Technical assistance is also available from Design & Historic Preservation Staff. Pasadena Heritage also has resources on the website to assist in finding skilled contractors with expereience working with historic buildings.
Will landmark designation restrict the use of a property?No. Designation has no effect whatsoever on uses permitted by the Zoning Code (except for allowing some non-conforming uses, such as small offices, within certain residential areas).
Additional InformationCity staff can provide more information on landmark districts. The City adopted Design Guidelines for Historic Districts in the City of Pasadena, to assist property owners in planning and undertaking rehabilitation projects and general maintenance. Please visit the Design & Historic Preservation Window (# 4) at the Permit Center for a free consultation.