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Historical Ordinance

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Informational Guide To: The City of Costa Mesa Historic Preservation Ordinance


Preserving historic properties in Costa Mesa is important to residents and businesses alike. Not only do historic properties provide us with a sense of place and a unique identity, but cities that take pride in their heritage are known to prosper both financially and culturally.

The City Council recognizes the importance of preserving historic structures and developed a voluntary Historic Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance offers incentives to property owners in an effort to encourage them to add on, remodel and rehabilitate places in a manner consistent with the structure's original architectural integrity.

Back in 1997, a survey was conducted of all structures located within the City. In addition, building permit files, historical documents and aerial photographs were evaluated in an effort to establish a list of properties considered to be historically significant. That list was adopted along with a Citywide ordinance in October, 1999.

This pamphlet is intended to provide a brief overview of the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to answer some of the more frequently asked questions.

Why Is Historic Preservation Important?

The Costa Mesa City Council recognizes the importance of protecting historic resources for the following reasons:

  1. To encourage public knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the City's past.
  2. To foster civic and neighborhood pride and a sense of identity based on the recognition and use of cultural resources;
  3. To preserve diverse and harmonious architectural styles and design preferences reflecting phases of the City s history and to encourage complementary design and construction;
  4. To enhance property values, and to increase economic and financial benefits to the City and its inhabitants; and
  5. To protect and enhance the City's attraction to tourists and visitors, thereby stimulating business and industry.

What Does The Historic Preservation Ordinance Do?

The ordinance allows the City to establish a Local Register of Historic Places which is created based on a formal designation and application process requiring the property owner's consent. It is important to note that structures cannot be randomly placed on the Local Register and be subject to the ordinance unless a formal application is submitted and approved. The City may initiate a formal application, but the property owner's consent is still required.

What Are The Advantages of Being On The Local Register?

There are a number of incentives identified in the ordinance which the City Council is intending to offer. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Mills Act Contracts (allows for tax deductions for home improvement/remodeling costs);
  2. Application of the State Historic Building Code;
  3. Application of the Marks Historical Rehabilitation Act;
  4. Assistance in processing applications for nominations to the National Register of Historic Places (if applicable);
  5. Plaques, awards or other symbols of recognition of exemplary rehabilitation;
  6. Grants and loans including, but not limited to, funds from the Community Development Block Grants; redevelopment financing programs; economic development programs; Small Business Administration Loans; Commercial Rehabilitation loans; Economic Development Administration programs; Industrial Development Bonds; Investment Tax Credits; Urban Development Action Grants for rehabilitation of residential, commercial and industrial buildings;
  7. Variances, including, but not limited to: building setbacks and parking requirements for rehabilitation projects;
  8. Relief from Building Permit and Planning Application fees;
  9. Transfer of Development Rights.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Being On The Local Register?

If the property owner of a structure listed on the Local Register wishes to restore, rehabilitate, alter, develop, construct, demolish, remove, or change the appearance of the structure, a Certificate of Appropriateness must be obtained from the Planning Commission. Details pertaining to the Certificate for Appropriateness are outlined in the ordinance. It is important to note that there is no fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

How Is A Structure Placed On The Local Register?

A list of the 29 most significant historic properties within the City of Costa Mesa was adopted with the ordinance in October, 1999. These properties are identified on the back of this brochure. All of these structures are automatically eligible for placement on the Local Register. Some of them are even eligible for placement on the National Register, which means they have greater historic significance than those that are eligible for placement on the Local Register.

To place a structure on the Local Register, the property owner must file an application and/or provide written consent. There are no application fees. The application is then reviewed by the Planning Commission and ultimately decided upon by the City Council.

If you have an older structure (over 45 years old), but it is not identified on the list, your property may still be eligible for placement on the Register if it meets the criteria established in the ordinance.

The City of Costa Mesa encourages you to consider the benefits of preserving your historic property and is here to assist you with your efforts in any way possible. If you have any additional questions regarding the Historic Preservation Ordinance, please call the City's Planning Division at (714) 754-5245. 

City of Costa Mesa Historic Resources Survey

Sites Eligible for Placement
on the National Register

  • 420 W. l9th St. - Methodist Church
  • 1900 Adams Ave. - Diego Sepulveda Adobe
  • 3315 Fairview Rd. - Segerstrom House
  • 3315 Fairview Rd. - Segerstrom Barn
  • 2150 Newport B1. - Stationmaster House

Sites Eligible for Placement
on the Local Register

  • 123 E. 18th St.
  • 127E 18thSt.
  • 179 E. 18th St.
  • 565-567 W. 18th St.
  • 1534 Adams Ave.
  • 147 Albert Place
  • 195 Albert Place
  • 1293 Baker St.
  • 1950 Church St.
  • 1817 Fullerton Ave.
  • 137 Magnolia St.
  • 200 Magnolia St.
  • 208 Magnolia St.
  • 301 Magnolia St.
  • 2180 Newport B1.
  • 1734 Orange Ave.
  • 1835 Orange Ave.
  • 2048 Orange Ave.
  • 2172 Orange Ave.
  • 2519 Santa Ana Ave.
  • 2529 Santa Ana Ave.(Relocated)
  • 1549 Tustin Ave.
  • 88 Fair Dr.
  • 2701 Fairview Rd.