Historic Preservation in Ventura
In conjunction with the City Hall Centennial celebration, we held a free workshop on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at the Community Meeting Room of Ventura City Hall to deepen appreciation for the architectural beauty of City Hall.
FAQs Concerning Historic Resources and Surveys
What is a Historic Resource?
A Historic Resource is defined as "any object, building, structure, site, area, place, record, or manuscript which is historically or archaeologically significant, or is significant in the architectural, engineering, scientific, economic, agricultural, educational, social, political, military, or cultural annals of California." Historic Resources under the California Environmental Quality Act include properties that are:
- Listed or determined eligible for listing in the California Register;
- Listed on a local register or identified in an historical resources survey;
- Meet the criteria for listing on the California Register or for listing in a local register; and
- Other resources not listed or determined to be eligible for listing in state or local register, or not included in an historical survey, but determined by the lead agency to be significant.
What is a historic resources survey?
A historic resources survey is a process of identifying, researching and documenting properties that reflect important themes in the city's development such as architecture, city planning, social history, ethnic heritage, politics, industry, transportation, commerce, entertainment and others.
What qualifies as a historic resource?
Historic resources may include buildings, structures, objects, cultural landscapes, natural features and groupings of resources or areas known as historic districts. Examples of resources that may be included in surveys are residential subdivisions, libraries, trees, religious buildings, courtyard apartments, barns, and gardens. The City completed the Downtown survey in 2007 and is currently processing a historic survey for the Westside/North Avenue Community Plan area (Westside Historic Context and Survey Report)
A historic landmark means any real property such as building, structure, or archaeological excavation, or object that is unique or significant because of its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship or aesthetic feeling, and is associated with:
- Events that have made a meaningful contribution to the nation, state or community;
- Lives of persons who made a meaningful contribution to national, state or local history;
- Reflecting or exemplifying a particular period of the national, state or local history;
- Embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction;
- The work of one or more master builders, designers, artists or architects whose talents influenced their historical period, or work that otherwise possesses high artistic value;
- Representing a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
- Yielding, or likely to yield, information important to national, state or local history or prehistory.
Do surveyed resources automatically become designated as landmarks?
No. However, surveys do identify and evaluate resources that may be eligible for designation. No actual designation results directly from the survey activity. The City of Ventura requires property owner approval to submit for designation. Nominations to the California or National Registers are separate processes that include property owner notification and public hearings.
How will this designation affect my property?
The survey will provide Community Development staff a tool in which to review development proposals. The survey eliminates properties that are not considered of historic value and lists the properties that are of historic importance and may require additional analysis. For example, should a demolition or major remodel request be made for a potential landmark, further environmental analysis would be required to determine the impact the project could have on historic resources. On the flip side, if the property is a potential landmark, it may qualify for property tax reduction through the City’s Mills Act program.
How old must a resource need to be in order to be considered “historic”?
Nationwide, a structure should be at least 50 years old to qualify as historic. In Ventura, the survey includes structures that are 40 years and over to ensure that potential historic structures are not overlooked.
How are historic resources evaluated?
Individual resources and districts are evaluated for significance in accordance with criteria established for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and California Register of Historical Resources as well as for local designation as City Landmarks, Points of Interest, or Historic Districts). Survey results identify resources eligible for designation as well as those that do not meet criteria for designation.
City Landmarks, Points of Interest, and Historic Districts
The City has 108 designated Landmarks, 13 Points of Interest, and 5 Historic Districts.
Historic Resource Protection
General Plan Action Item 9.19 states:
"For any project in a historic district or that would affect any potential historic resource or structure more than 40 years old, require an assessment of eligibility for State and federal register and landmark status and appropriate mitigation to protect the resource."
The purpose of the policy and procedures document (below) is to provide clear direction and a standardized format for all historic resource assessments prepared for the City of Ventura and review procedure for demolition applications of potential historic structures.
The Mills Act is a self-directed, economic incentive program designed to provide private property owners the opportunity to actively participate in the restoration of their properties while receiving property tax relief.
If your property is listed on any official federal, state, county, or city register, including the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historical Resources, California Historical Landmarks, State Points of Historical Interest, local landmarks, and local survey listings, you may qualify for property tax relief by pledging to rehabilitate and maintain the historical and architectural character of a property for at least a ten-year period.
Mills Act participants may realize a property tax savings of approximately 50% each year for newly improved or purchased older properties.
- California Office of Historic Preservation Mills Act Information Website
- Office of Historic Preservation Mills Act Property Tax Abatement Program (pdf)
- Mills Act Agreement Application Form (pdf)
- Mills Act Contract Financial Analysis (pdf)
Purpose: Report to the Planning Commission, advise and recommend concerning the designation of historic districts, landmarks, sites, natural configurations, buildings, structures, and points of interest significant to the heritage and development of the City.
City staff contact: Dave Ward, Planning Manager, 677-3964
The Historic Preservation Committee meets the 4th Monday of each month at 4pm, at Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street in the Santa Cruz conference room.
Size of the group & term: 5 Members serve 4 years each
Jack Shaffer, Chair
City staff contacts:
Jeffrey Lambert, Community Development Director
Dave Ward, Planning Manager