Development Services

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation is important because various styles of architecture from our past tell a story about the cultures and values that serve as the building blocks of our City today. That’s why the City Council designates historic landmarks, districts, and objects by city ordinance if they have historical or architectural value and have preserved the integrity of the original exterior and materials.

To serve this purpose, the City has adopted design guidelines for designated buildings to guide rehabilitation and additions in order to retain the building’s original design features and ensure compatibility between the old and the new. Known as the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, these guidelines are used in local communities throughout the country.

In addition, with the help of the community, the City is developing historic district design guidelines that impact how you care for, remodel, or possibly expand your home. We welcome your participation as we strive to protect the character of our historic districts. To date, the Cultural Heritage Commission has adopted design guidelines for 16 historic districts throughout the City.

Study Session to Consider Policy Update Regarding Whether to Allow Substitute Materials

On April 26, 2022 will hold a continuation of the Study Session to continue discussion on the use of substitute materials for historic properties. The Cultural Heritage Commission has held two study sessions related to discuss the matter. During the study sessions, the Commission was provided feedback from property owners, neighborhood historic preservation groups, various residents and stakeholders in the community. The Commission gave direction to staff and to return to the commission with a memo to memorialize the discussion. The memo is linked here for review:

Written comments may be submitted to

For more information on how to participate in this meeting, please visit:

On the March 29, 2022, the Cultural Heritage Commission will hold a continuation of the Study Session previously held at last month’s meeting. To view the presentation for the upcoming Study Session, please click on the link: Historic District Repair and Replacement Guidelines

On February 22, 2022, the Cultural Heritage Commission held a study session to consider a potential policy update to allow substitutes for historic material requirements for windows and siding. The Planning Bureau has heard the concerns brought forth by residents and would like to consider changes to these standards, due to multiple factors, such as: increases in material prices, supply chain impacts such as the lumber shortage, maintenance challenges and environmental impacts. To learn more, please feel free to review the presentation in advance. CHC Study Session on Historic Materials for Windows and Siding on 2-22-22.

Reminder For Historic Properties & Landmarks

Historic Landmark-District Annual Postcard

The Historic Preservation office sends an annual postcard to historic landmark properties and historic district properties. The purpose of the postcard is to be an annual reminder to property owners to check with our offices prior to initiating any projects on your historic homes and landmark buildings.

Any exterior changes to a historic landmark or property located within a historic district must be approved through a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before starting any work, even if a building permit is not required.

Common projects requiring a COA include:

  • Changes to windows and/or doors
  • Building repairs and additions
  • Re-painting
  • Re-roofing
  • Solar panel installations

You can also find more information using the links below:

For more information about this postcard or questions, please contact the Development Services Department's Historic Preservation staff at: 562.570.6194 or
We value historic landmarks that honor original materials and designs as well as historic building elements.

Here are some recommended practices for making changes to a historic landmark: 

  • Repair is preferable to a replacement for deteriorated original materials and features. If replacement is necessary, the replacement should replicate the original visual design and appearance.
  • Alterations should avoid the removal of features and spaces that characterize the property.
  • New additions or related new construction should be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features of the original structure but could be visibly differentiated from the old. Exact imitation of the original is not required.
  • Demolition of historic buildings is discouraged by the delay in issuance of permits of six months to one year and by the environmental review. Demolition permits may be obtained only after completing all City review requirements.

The State Historical Building Code allows alternatives to current building codes to preserve original building materials and design features. These alternatives can substantially reduce rehabilitation costs.

What You Need to Do

In order to make exterior changes on a historical landmark —  even those that do not need building permits, such as repainting — you must fill out a Certificate of Appropriateness. Ordinary maintenance and repair are excluded. Typically, a City Preservation Officer will review applications for changes, but minor ones may be approved by staff. Applications for Certificates of Appropriateness are due two weeks prior to a Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commission meeting.

The Cultural Heritage Commission consists of 15 members — many of whom are professional experts in architecture, construction, and design. They can provide property owners with technical assistance. The Commission meets on the third Wednesday morning of each month.

Under the Mills Act Historical Property Act, a contract between the property owner and the City can lead to a reduction in property taxes. Sometimes, a comprehensive historical rehabilitation can take advantage of federal investment tax credits. In order to qualify, the building must be listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Contact our Historic Preservation staff for more information on any of the following:
  • How to designate a building as a landmark or historic district
  • The current inventory of historic landmarks and historic districts
  • Advice on rehabilitation guidelines and technical assistance
  • Applications for Certificates of Appropriateness
  • Sources to research the history of buildings in Long Beach
  • Information on the State Historic Building Code and the Mills Act Historical Property Contracts

Quick Links

Existing Conditions Report summarizes Long Beach’s preservation efforts to date.
Historic Preservation Element, as adopted in the 2030 Long Beach General Plan