Landmark, Structure of Merit, and Historic District Designation

The designation process is initiated with an application for designation and typically takes a minimum of three months to complete. The following summarizes some of the key steps in the process:

  1. Application for designation is filed by any member of the public.
  2. Property owner(s) and property tenants are notified of the designation application. Property owner consent of a landmark designation or structure of merit is not required.  
  3. Upon filing of a Landmark designation application, no alteration, restoration, construction, removal, relocation, or demolition of the proposed landmark may occur and no permits may be issued for the property.
  4. Evaluation of property by third party historic consultant and City Staff is completed at City's expense.
  5. A public hearing before the Landmarks Commission and decision on designation.
  6. The Landmarks Commission decision may be appealed to City Council if filed within 10 days.

Landmark Designation Criteria

 

A building, structure or object may be designated as a city landmark if it meets one or more the following criteria, at the discretion of the Landmarks Commission or City Council, on appeal. 

 

  1. It exemplifies, symbolizes, or manifests elements of the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the City.
  2. It has aesthetic or artistic interest or value, or other noteworthy interest or value.
  3. It is identified with historic personages or with important events in local, state or national history.
  4. It embodies distinguishing architectural characteristics valuable to a study of a period, style, method of construction, or the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship, or is a unique or rare example of an architectural design, detail or historical type valuable to such a study.
  5. It is a significant or a representative example of the work or product of a notable builder, designer or architect.
  6. It has a unique location, a singular physical characteristic, or is an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community or the City.

Structure of Merit Designation Criteria

 

A building, structure or object may be designated as a Structure of Merit if it meets the following criteria at the discretion of the Landmarks Commission or City Council, on appeal. 

 

  • Identified in the City’s Historic Resources Inventory, or
  • 50 years of age or more and meets one of the following criteria:
    • A unique or rare example of an architectural design, detail or historical type
    • Representative of a style in the City that is no longer prevalent
    • Contributes to a potential Historic District
         

Historic District Designation Process and Criteria

The process for Historic District designation places the Landmarks Commission in an advisory role to the City Council, with the Council approving district designations through adoption of an ordinance. In contrast to the other designation procedures, some minor alterations or repairs may be permitted while the District is under consideration. Currently the only designated Historic Districts in Santa Monica are the Third Street Historic District, the Bay Street Craftsman Cluster, and the San Vicente Boulevard Courtyard Apartments Historic District.
A geographic area or a noncontiguous grouping of thematically related properties may be designated a Historic District if the City Council finds that such area meets one of the following criteria:

  • Any of the criteria for a Landmark designation
  • A concentration of historic, scenic or thematic sites, which contribute to each other and are unified aesthetically by plan, physical development or architectural quality
  • Significant geographical patterns, associated with different eras of settlement and growth, particular transportation modes, or distinctive examples of park or community planning

Apply for Designation

Submit a completed Historic Designation Application Form at the Public Counter or mail the application to City Hall care of the Planning Department, and pay applicable fees, if required.

The applicant, representative, or legal owner familiar with the project is encouraged to be present at the Landmarks Commission meeting. A decision on the  designation is rendered at the hearing. All decisions by the Landmarks Commission are subject to a 10-day appeal period.