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?

Local, state, and federal laws establish different historical registers that have their own designation processes and types of review or protection. Listing in one register does not prevent a district from being listed in another. Some historic resources, including districts, are listed in all three. Note that the different historic registers correspond to the laws that created them, rather than the significance of the resources they include. For instance, the National Register was established by federal law but still contains many properties that have local- and state-level significance, in addition to nationally significant resources. 

San Mateo’s Historic Building Survey completed in 1989 identified two historic districts: the Downtown Historic District and the Glazenwood Historic District. The Downtown Historic District, which is focused along South B Street and 3rd Avenue, has particular importance in the history of San Mateo because it has long served as the city’s commercial heart. It maintains much of its historic character from the early decades of the twentieth century. The residential neighborhood of Glazenwood is a unique early 1920's development of Spanish Colonial Revival homes. Currently, the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance establishes a review process that applies only to the Downtown Historic District.

The California Register of Historical Resources (California Register) is administered by the State of California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP, sometimes also referred to as the State Historic Preservation Office). For a property to be listed in the California Register, nomination materials are submitted to the local government for comment, and then to OHP for staff review. OHP notifies property owners in the district and then brings the nomination before the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC), an appointed review body, for a public review hearing. During the hearing, the SHRC votes on whether to approve the nomination. 

The National Register of Historic Places (National Register) is administered by the National Park Service in coordination with state governments. The nomination process for the National Register is similar to the process for the California Register. In California, OHP reviews the completed National Register nomination and notifies property owners before it is heard by the SHRC, who may vote to send it to the National Park Service for final approval. All districts that are formally listed in the National Register are automatically listed in the California Register.

Show All Answers

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?