Historic Preservation

Historic Resources & 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
  • 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.

In 1983, the City completed the Phase I Cultural Heritage Survey of Downtown and Westside areas. An updated Historic Resources Survey of the Downtown Specific Plan area was completed in 2007. The Westside Historic Resource Survey was conducted as part of the Westside Community Plan effort (February 8, 2011 Staff Report and Meeting Minutes, and Westside Historic Context and Survey Report ).

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.

What is a Historic Landmark?

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.