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Historic District Plans

Historic District Plans and Design standards

The City of Sacramento is in the process of preparing Historic District Plans as required under City Code 17.604.300. This project will involve preparing a single comprehensive document with chapters for each of the city’s historic districts. City Code also requires the plans contain certain elements, including a statement of the goals for review of development projects within the historic district, a representation of historical development of land uses, existing land uses, and any adopted plans for future land uses. Plans will also include each district’s period of significance, the predominant styles of buildings and features within the district, and standards and criteria to be used in evaluating development projects within the district. As part of this process, the city will update the Sacramento Register by surveying many of the City’s original historic districts and determining which resources are contributing resources and which are non-contributing resources. When appropriate, boundaries of the historic districts may be redrawn to better define the historic districts consistent with state and federal guidelines. Use the map below to identify the historic districts. An attempt to adopt a similar document was made in 2007: Historic District Standards 2007

Recent Public Documents & Drafts

Public Meeting

On December 6, 2018, at 6 PM, at CADA Courtyard Building, 1322 O Street, Sacramento, Sacramento’s historic preservation staff and historic consultants Page & Turnbull will provide an overview of the draft document. This public meeting will focus on the draft historic context and historic survey prepared by Page & Turnbull over the past year. Members of the public are encouraged to review and give feedback on this first portion of the document.

The Historic District Plans Overview

The Historic District Plans will be comprised of one comprehensive document with individual chapters for each of the Historic Districts. Historic District Plans will include:

Historic District Plan and Design Standards:

  • Purpose, Goals, and Summary
  • Framework and Regulatory BackgroundHistoric District Plan Map
  • City-wide Historic Context
  • Common Property Types, Architectural Styles and Character-Defining Features
  • Common Preservation Design Standard
  • Appendices, Maps, List of Properties

Individual District Plans:

  • Brief District Historic Context, Significance, Period of Significance
  • Historic District Physical Description and Boundaries
  • Contributing and Non-Contributing Resources (List and Map)
  • Preservation and Infill Design Standards

Consulting Team

Page & Turnbull logo

The City has selected Page & Turnbull, a historic preservation planning consulting firm to assist the city in developing the Historic District Plans document. Page & Turnbull has had a presence in Sacramento since 1976 and has extensive experience developing similar historic district plans, also known as “historic district design guidelines.” Page & Turnbull will begin by developing historic contexts and a statement of significance for each of the historic districts. The historic context of each district will be used to help identify what features and characteristics help characterize the district. Next, where necessary, Page & Turnbull will walk each district and identify the contributing and non-contributing resources, a process known as “historic district survey.” Following the historic district survey effort, Page & Turnbull will develop historic district development standards  for each district.

How the Historic District Plans and Design standards will Benefit the City

Review of modifications to historic buildings and development projects within the city’s historic districts is currently regulated utilizing the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (The Standards), which include 10 broad historic preservation principles. However, The Standards are a series of concepts about maintaining, repairing, and replacing historic materials, as well as designing new additions or making alterations, which are used nationwide to help protect cultural resources. However, the Standards are not specific to the needs of Sacramento’s historic neighborhoods and are essentially silent regarding infill development. The Historic District Plans, and specifically the accompanying Design Standards, will address infill development within historic districts to address elements such as scale, massing, and materials which are appropriate to each district. The subjective nature of the Standards can lead to frustrating delays for property owners. Development and implementation of the Historic District Plans as required by City Code, will bring greater clarity for staff and project proponents about what kind of development is compatible within each historic district.

Public Outreach and Adoption

Beginning in June 2018, staff began a series of stakeholder meetings to introduce the Historic District Plans concept to key stakeholders. Initial feedback will be incorporated into an early draft of the Historic District Plans. A public workshop will be held in November 2018 to present the refined concept to stakeholders and comments will be incorporated into an administrative draft document, which will be presented at a Preservation Commission Meeting in January 2019. From these meetings, a Draft Historic District Plans document will be finalized, and a second public workshop will be held in late February to seek feedback on the draft. The final draft of the Historic District Plans and Development Standards is expected to be complete by late April 2019. Adoption of the Historic District Plans  will extend into late-2019.  


Sign up for City of Sacramento email updates.Project Contact: 

Sean de Courcy, Associate Preservation Planner, Community Development Department


Project Schedule

Historic context and property-by-property documentation will take place throughout the summer of 2018. If you live in a historic district you may see a few people walking around the neighborhood with tablets taking notes, so no need to be alarmed. Development of design standards will extend into the spring of 2019. Public workshops will occur in November of 2018 and February 2019, followed by final ordinance development and public hearings by the City extending into late-2019.

See the current Historic District Plans Project Schedule.

Final Adoption

The Historic District Plans document will require review and recommendation by the Historic Preservation Commission and Planning and Design Commission. Ultimately, the City Council must adopt the Historic District Plans before the document can be utilized by staff to help guide projects within historic districts. The historic resources survey and any historic district boundary changes will require separate ordinances to update the resource category in the Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources. The public hearing process is anticipated to last until late-2019.


Design Guidelines in other Jurisdictions

The following Design Guidelines provide examples of guidelines drafted for other jurisdictions to address a specific historic district. The Sacramento Historic District Plans will include ‘Preservation Development Standards,’ and be structured in a different manner to address multiple historic districts.

Downtown San Jose Historic District Design Guidelines (2001)

Downtown Napa Historic Resources Design Guidelines (2012)

Professorville Historic District Design Guidelines (2016)

Downtown Sonoma Historic Preservation Design Guidelines (2017)

Palo Alto Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines (2018)



Historic District Plan Overview: September 12, 2018