Historic Preservation

Arched entrance sign over street to San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter with slogan "historic heart of San Diego."

San Diego to Update Historic Preservation Program

The city wants to identify new areas for preservation while streamlining processes to promote adaptive reuse of historic properties.

January 24, 2024 - Times of San Diego

Close-up of historic building with green facade and curved windows in San Francisco, California.

Op-Ed: A ‘Culture of Preciousness’ Undermines Historic Preservation

A focus on historic materials could foster inequity and obscure the important social and historical meanings of a structure.

January 11, 2024 - Next City

Aerial view of houses against partly cloudy sky in San Mateon County, California.

California Cities Cite Historic Preservation to Block Development

Are some cities using historic designations disingenuously?

December 7, 2023 - Mercury News

Newly constructed houses in Tempe, Arizona.

Tempe Historic Preservation Proposal Could Make it Harder to Build New Homes

Proposed changes to the city’s preservation ordinance would make two-thirds of the city’s housing stock eligible for preservation.

October 2, 2023 - The State Press

Teal and blue two-story houses in Seattle's historic Queen Anne neighborhood

Opinion: Form-Based Codes Could Harm Seattle’s Housing Affordability

Form-based zoning codes can encourage mixed-use development and walkable neighborhoods, but focusing too much on aesthetic elements can drive up the cost of housing.

July 27, 2023 - The Urbanist

Google street view of historic one-story Chase Bank building (now PNC Bank) in Washington, D.C. with drive-through banking kiosk

D.C. Preservation Board Includes Parking Lot in Historic Designation

The decision to protect a non-historic parking lot as part of designating an adjacent historic bank building is being derided by critics as another form of exclusionary zoning.

June 5, 2023 - Greater Greater Washington

Blue Art Deco 13-story tiled Eastern Building in downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Reveals New Citywide Adaptive Reuse Proposal

An adaptive reuse ordinance limited to the city’s downtown core helped create roughly 12,000 units of new housing.

May 25, 2023 - Los Angeles Department of City Planning

Graphic with Sara Bronin headshot superimposed on photo of historic rowhouse building and "Historic Preservation with Sara Bronin" text

Save the Clocktower! Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chair Sara Bronin Joins The Planning Commission Podcast

Sara Bronin was recently appointed by President Biden to chair the ACHP. In this episode she takes us back to the future on what historic preservation means to American cities and what planners can do to balance preservation with contemporary needs.

May 12, 2023 - The Planning Commission Podcast

Restored white two-story historic home with black trim in Roanoke, Virginia

Restoring the Vacant Middle: Creating Middle Housing Through Historic Preservation

How flexible zoning in historic districts can support preservation and create affordable housing.

April 24, 2023 - Maribeth Mills

Former auto showroom converted to apartments in Oakland, California with vintage facade and new tower rising above

‘Facadism:’ Historical Preservation, Fakery—or a Little of Both?

Developers in cities like Oakland, California are turning to vintage architectural elements to inform building renovations, but this repackaging is far from traditional preservation work.

April 6, 2023 - San Francisco Chronicle

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7, 2023 - The Urbanist

Google Street view of 250 Water Street parking lot with tall buildings in background

Manhattan Preservation Groups Block New Development—On a ‘Historic’ Parking Lot

A judge ruled against a decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to approve a 324-tower in the South Street Seaport Historic District, highlighting the tensions in a city facing a dearth of affordable housing.

February 1, 2023 - The New York Times

Close-up of green street sign at Heights Blvd and 8th Street in Houston, Texas with "Historic District" and star logo

Proposed ‘Conservation Districts’ Could Change Preservation in Houston

The proposed model could be a new tool for preserving historic neighborhoods with more flexibility and with a focus on reducing displacement and addressing community concerns.

January 8, 2023 - Urban Edge

A row of Victorian homes in San Francisco, California

Whose History Is Being Preserved, Exactly?

As the housing crisis continues, advocates are increasingly wary of historic preservation efforts that serve to perpetuate historic inequities and keep housing costs high.

July 26, 2022 - San Francisco Examiner

"You are entering Jackson's downtown historic district" brown sign

What Is an Overlay District?

A zoning overlay district superimposes an additional set of regulations over an existing zoning district, or multiple zoning districts.

June 15, 2022 - Diana Ionescu

Cottages on Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Redevelopment Threatens Iconic, Affordable Chicago Homes

The ‘workers’ cottages’ are being replaced with larger, more expensive homes, threatening one of the city’s original forms of affordable housing.

May 16, 2022 - WTTW

Kennebec River

Maine Passes Zoning Reform Laws

The state legislature passed two bills, one supporting accessory dwelling units and another incentivizing adaptive reuse, aimed at boosting housing affordability.

May 3, 2022 - Maine Beacon


Another Silicon Valley Town Tries To Sidestep State Density Law

Palo Alto could designate more than one hundred properties as historic in an attempt to prevent lot splitting permitted under a new state law designed to lightly increase residential density.

March 23, 2022 - The Mercury News

Multi-Family Housing

How Cities Are Resisting State Efforts To Increase Density

Cities are attempting to wrest back local control over land use and zoning via some ingenious—and sometimes disingenuous—strategies.

March 1, 2022 - Diana Ionescu

Old houses with large porch and colorful siding

Opinion: New Construction Is Safer, Better for the Environment

The emotional attachment to old homes can obscure the benefits of new buildings, which consume less energy and provide more amenities for residents.

January 14, 2022 - The Atlantic

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