What Can I Do With My Historic Building

Repairs, alterations, and additions may be allowed if the proposed project protects the historic integrity of the resource. 

1. Proposed work on the inside of a historic building

For structures designated as NR-5 (of local historic significance) in the Historic Resources Inventory, you can make changes to the inside of the building without regard to the historic preservation regulations. You still need the required permits (building, electrical, etc.), but you do not need approval from the County’s Historic Resources Commission. For historic properties rated NR-1 through NR-4, proposed alterations to the interior of the structure may also require historic review and must be reivewed by the County's Historic Resources Planner.

2. Proposed work on the outside of a historic building

Requires approval of a Historic Resource Preservation Plan application by the HRC, except for painting and ordinary maintenance that doesn’t involve changing the design or materials. There is no fee for the HRC review if it is required.

The ten criteria the HRC uses when reviewing an application for work on the outside of a historic building are listed in County Code Section 16.42.060(C). New construction on a property with a designated historic resource may also require a historic preservation plan and review by the HRC. The HRC considers how the proposed work would affect the historic significance and architectural features of the existing building. 

There are various “breaks” when it comes to changes to your historic building. These include use of the State Historic Building Code, which allows greater flexibility for projects in some cases through the use of non-standard materials and methods, where necessary to protect the historic significance of the structure. Other incentives applicable only to historic buildings include the following:

  • 1. Nonconforming additions to a non-conforming historic building, if within the footprint of the existing building, do not require a variance.
  • 2. Alterations to historic structures do not trigger the need to follow certain geologic hazard requirements.

If you have further questions about the historic resource designation, please contact the Historic Resources Planner at 454-3117 or Matthew.Sundt@santacruzcountyca.gov .