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Long Beach CA
Historic District Design Guidelines
Historic Preservation Long Beach Municipal Code    

Latest News and Updates
The City of Long Beach is in the process of updating Historic Districts Design Guidelines. Draft guidelines have been available to the public for review for several months and will come back to the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) for adoption at its August 14, 2017 meeting. As of July 24, 2017, these Guidelines have been updated and improved based on the valuable public input received on the draft documents. A Response to Comments matrix is included below. 

The community is encouraged to take the time to review the revised drafts between now and Monday, August 14, 2017, at which time the Cultural Heritage Commission will consider a motion to adopt the Guidelines for these eight districts. Chapters 1, 2, and Architectural Style Guides for Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival are being considered for adoption as well. Drafts for each district can be found below:

Long Beach Historic District Design Guidelines: Table of Contents
Click below to review a draft version of the proposed Long Beach Historic District Design Guidelines.

  1. Chapter 1 - Purpose, Procedures, Overview of Program
  2. Chapter 2 - Guidelines for Maintenance, Repair and Minor Alterations
  3. Chapter 3 - Design Guidelines by District
    3.1 Belmont Heights
    3.4 Brenner Place
    3.8 Eliot Lane
    3.9 Hellman Street Craftsman
    3.12 Minerva Place
    3.13 Rose Park
    3.14 Rose Park South
    3.16 Wilton Street
    Coming soon: Bluff Heights, Bluff Park, California Heights, Carroll Park, Drake Park/Willmore City, Linden Ave, Lowena Drive, Sunrise Blvd, Wrigley Area
  4. Chapter 4 - Architectural Style Guide 
    4.3 Craftsman: 1902-1925
    4.16 Spanish Colonial Revival: 1915-1942
    Coming soon: Other architectural style guides will be developed thorugh this process, such as American Foursquare (1894-1910), Colonial Revival (1876-1965), Folk Victorian (1870-1910), Midcentury Modern (1945-1970s), Neoclassical (1900-1930), Prairie (1900-1922), Queen Anne (1885-1910), Streamline Moderne (1925-1942), Tudor Revival (1900-1942)
  5. Chapter 5 - Resources
    5.1 Paint Samples for Craftsman, Colonial Revival and Victorian
    5.2 Resource List: A referral list from Long Beach Heritage, including architects, contractors, painters, roofers etc.
    5.3 Window Referral List

Response to Comments:
Click below to review the oublic feedback for each historic district design guideline and a response to each comment, indicating if and how the comment has been incorporated into the revised drafts now available for public review:


Additions to Homes in Historic Districts

The fabric of our historic districts is made up of the materials, details and scale of each individual home and structure. Additions to homes in historic districts should be designed and constructed so as to preserve the significant materials, architectural features, and overall historic character of the home as well as the district. Changes in scale and massing can affect the overall unity, consistency and cohesion of the streetscape and the district.

In reviewing the Certificate of Appropriateness for additions, the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) must take into account the effect the proposed addition has on both the home and the historic district. The review process addresses scale, materials, setbacks, massing, sightlines, architectural style, historic features and design. The CHC will review each submission on a case-by-case basis using the following as a guideline.

Effects of Additions on Historic Scale & Character

Additions should be designed to preserve, as much as possible, the original scale and overall character of the structure.

Some of the ways this can be accomplished include:

  • Placing the new addition on an inconspicuous side or rear elevation so that the new work does not result in a radical change to the form and character of the historic building

  • Setting an infill addition or connector back from the historic building wall plane so that the form of the historic building – or buildings – can be distinguished from the new work

  • Setting an additional story well back from the roof edge to ensure that the historic building’s proportions and profile are not radically changed.

  • Limit the size and scale of the addition so that is does not diminish or overpower the original building and/or the character of the historic district.

Scale is an important character-defining attribute of historic buildings and one of the unifying factors in historic districts. In order to protect both the original character of the historic property and the visual consistency of the neighborhood, additions that are over 50% in size (square feet) to the original house will be carefully scrutinized by the CHC. The intent will be to minimize the visual impact of the larger additions in order to maintain the character of the district.

Identify & Preserve Character-Defining Features

Each of the properties on the historic resources inventory is recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use.

In the spirit of preserving the historic fabric, the City encourages the preservation of distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that serve to characterize and define properties of historic significance. Likewise, the City discourages the addition of inappropriate features or architectural elements from other buildings.

New additions and alterations should be designed and constructed so that the character-defining features of the historic building are not radically changed, obscured, damaged, or destroyed.

Features that may be important in defining the overall historic character of the building include:

  • Siding: Clapboard, weatherboard, shingles, and other siding and decorative elements – both functional and decorative.

  • Windows: Functional and decorative features or windows that define the overall historic character of a building (e.g., a decorative window with an unusual shape, glazing patterns, or color; historic window types; window proportions).

  • Entrances and porches: Entrances and porches, particularly when they occur on primary elevations.

  • Roofs: Such roof features as roof shape, dormers, cupolas, eaves and chimneys, as well as the size, color, and patterning of the roofing material.

  • Architectural features: Trim details, treatment of gables, overhangs.

Reference the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation for additions and rehabilitation of historic buildings.

The Long Beach Municipal Code Section 2.63.070 contains the following standards for review and approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness:

  • The proposed change will not adversely affect any significant historical, cultural, architectural or aesthetic feature of the concerned property or of the historic district in which it is located, and is consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter;

  • The proposed change is consistent with or not incompatible with the architectural period of the building;

  • The proposed change is compatible in architectural style with existing adjacent contributing structures in a historic district;

  • The scale, massing, proportions, materials, colors, textures, fenestration, decorative features and details proposed are consistent with the period and/or compatible with adjacent structures.

It is advisable to homeowners considering significant alterations and additions to contact the Historic Preservation Officer to discuss the proposed project. Preliminary plans and concepts can be reviewed for compatibility with the CHC guidelines and the Municipal Code .

The Review Process

A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for all exterior changes, even those that do not need building permits, such as repainting. Ordinary maintenance and repair are excluded. The Preservation Officer reviews applications for changes. Minor changes that meet the design guidelines are approved immediately. Major projects and applications that are inconsistent with the design guidelines are scheduled for a CHC meeting. Applicants may appeal decisions to the Planning Commission (PC).