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Historical Resources

Benefits & Responsibilities

Photo of Historical Building

The City of San Diego recognizes the benefits of historical resource preservation to the community as well as to individual property owners. Preservation efforts stabilize neighborhoods and promote cultural tourism as well as offer a wide range of other benefits. Below is a list of benefits of historical preservation.

Historic preservation...

  • Protects the unique history, architecture, or character of a community
  • Provides the "competitive edge" of place differentiation and community livability
  • Enhances quality of life
  • Provides a sense of neighborhood and community pride
  • Is compatible with established land use patterns
  • Stabilizes or increases property values
  • Encourages public reinvestment
  • Stimulates private investment
  • Encourages small business formation
  • Maintains or enhances tax revenue collections
  • Provides housing and jobs
  • Is an incremental economic development strategy
  • Attracts and retains high tech corporate headquarters
  • Nourishes cultural organizations, non-profits and entrepreneurs
  • Generates heritage tourism
  • Attracts new residents
  • Is environmentally responsible
  • Reduces construction debris in landfills
  • Uses existing infrastructure
  • Reduces commute time and cost
  • Reduces air pollution and traffic congestion
  • Reinforces prior public and private sector investments
  • Discourages sprawl
  • Conserves farmland, open space and endangered habitat
  • Reduces the need for additional roads, sewers, and utilities in outlying areas
  • Establishes strong community ties
  • Enhances community problem solving and consensus making ability
  • Strengthens communication between neighborhoods and city hall
  • Provides a sense of time and place
  • Stabilizes neighborhoods
  • Provides technical assistance to homeowners, property owners and business persons
  • Promotes Business Improvement Districts or Main Street programs that provide resources for marketing and promotion, trash collection, graffiti removal and increased public security
  • Increases neighborhood population diversity -in types of ethnicity, occupations, age, and income
  • Assists neighborhood economic diversity by providing low cost space for small businesses
  • Provides long-term assurance to property owners, lenders and investors that inappropriate, or out-of-scale, buildings will not be built in a historic district
  • Increase the composite values of the sum of ALL the properties within the district
  • Protects from wild swings in the real estate market
  • Promotes active community participation

Historic neighborhoods have...

Photo of Historic Neighborhood
  • A diversity of housing sizes, quality, price range and configuration
  • Nearby employment centers
  • Goods and services within walkable distances
  • Established social infrastructure-schools, churches, hospitals, social agencies and neighborhood organizations

Property Owner Benefits

Property owners often perceive that the value of their asset is confined within their property line boundaries. However, the value of real estate is intensively interrelated with what is beyond the property boundaries. When a historic building is maintained and periodically rehabilitated, the financial benefits accrue not only to the owner but to adjacent building owners, nearby businesses and local government.

Other benefits for property owners of historical sites are financial incentives, including:

  • Federal tax rehab credits (for National Register listed properties)
  • Façade Improvement programs
  • Design assistance
  • Property tax reductions(Mills Act)

Unoccupied Historical Sites Minimum Maintenance Guidelines

Photo of Point Loma Lighthouse

While the word maintenance conjures tasks of scrubbing, cleaning, polishing, dusting, scraping, sanding, painting - its critical importance in the preservation of historic resources should not be overlooked. Maintenance is preservation. All too often, serious preservation problems arise because ordinary, routine maintenance has been deferred or is nonexistent. With regular maintenance, the life of a structure or resource can be measurably extended without the loss of historic fabric. Maintenance of historical resources deserves consideration from property owners and other responsible entities. If a resource is to be preserved, adequate planning and funding is required for all maintenance needs.

Minimum Maintenance Standards (PDF)

How to rehabilitate a Designated Historical property, or one that is 45 years old or older

If you own a structure that is over 45 years of age, that you would like to modify in some way, there may be historical guidelines that you must follow [or may want to follow] depending on your situation. The options for seeking guidance from the Historical Resources staff are outlined in the staff assistance procedure.

Have more questions?

Visit our Historical Resources Frequently Asked Questions section, for more information on responsibilities and benefits of historical designation.