What is a historic district?

The National Park Service defines a historic district as a “significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects, unified by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical developments.”  This means that historic districts have numerous components that, when considered together, represent the social, cultural, economic, and/or architectural history of a community.  Individual properties within a district may not be able to express those same patterns when viewed on their own. Historic districts can take many forms. In communities like San Mateo, historic districts often are groupings of buildings in a commercial area—such as the Downtown Historic District—or homes in a residential neighborhood, such as the Glazenwood Historic District.

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1. What is a historic district?
2. What are contributors and non-contributors within a historic district?
3. How is a locally designated historic district different from one listed in the California Register of Historical Resources or the National Register of Historic Places?
4. Can a property owner in a proposed historic district oppose designation?
5. What may property owners do to a district contributor and non-contributor properties?
6. Are there added permits or construction requirements that could increase costs for a proposed project affecting a contributor to a historic district?