True protection of historic resources takes place at the local level of government. One of the key components to all Certified Local Governments is the Historic Preservation Ordinance. An ordinance spells out exactly what the local preservation program entails. A local ordinance should establish a historic preservation commission; a local register of historic places; a mechanism for the design review of locally listed properties; as well as any incentives for historic property owners such as Special Tax Valuation. The Bylaws of the Historic Preservation Commission establish the rules that will be followed during meetings as well as the criteria for listing properties to the local register and design review. Templates of these documents are available below.
The purpose of design review is to protect the character of locally listed properties and to ensure that new development, or changes to existing properties, are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. The design review process considers a wide range of design issues. These may include such things as building scale and massing, architectural history and details, signs and advertising features, building materials, and in some cases even paint color. Each local government decides the breadth and scope of its design guidelines.
The following documents are meant to help you get started. One ordinance may not fit all communities and we enourage you to use these as a starting point. Also, see this very helpful document from the California SHPO Drafting Effective Historic Preservation Ordinances.