Community Development

Historic District Design Guidelines

The City is in the process of developing Historic District Design Guidelines for each of its 17 historic districts, in addition to style guides for each major historic architectural style. The guidelines are intended to provide an instructive framework for sensitive changes to historic properties, such as the restoration, remodel, or possible expansion of your property. The guidelines also assist property owners in understanding and appreciating the historic character of the buildings and districts in which they are located.


Design Guidelines and Architectural Style Guides

  1. Chapter 1 - Purpose, Procedures, Overview of Program - Adopted
  2. Chapter 2 - Guidelines for Maintenance, Repair and Minor Alterations - Adopted
  3. Chapter 3 - Design Guidelines by District
    3.1 Belmont Heights - Adopted
    3.2 Bluff Heights - Adopted
    3.3 Bluff Park - Adopted
    3.4 Brenner Place - Adopted
    3.5 California Heights - Adopted
    3.6 Carroll Park - Adopted
    3.8 Eliot Lane - Adopted
    3.9 Hellman Street Craftsman - Adopted
    3.10 Linden Ave - Adopted
    3.11 Lowena Drive - Adopted
    3.12 Minerva Place - Adopted
    3.13 Rose Park - Adopted
    3.14 Rose Park South - Adopted
    3.15 Sunrise Boulevard - Adopted
    3.16 Wilton Street - Adopted
    3.17 Wrigley - Adopted
    Coming soon: Drake Park/Willmore City
  4. Chapter 4 - Architectural Style Guide
    4.1 American Foursquare: 1894-1910 - Adopted
    4.2 Colonial Revival: 1876-1965 - Adopted
    4.3 Craftsman: 1902-1925 - Adopted
    4.4 Folk Victorian: 1870-1910 - Adopted
    4.5 French Eclectic: 1915-1942 - Adopted
    4.6 Mediterranean Revival: 1919-1950 - Adopted
    4.7 Minimal Traditional: 1930-1950 - Adopted
    4.8 Prairie Style: 1900-1942 - Adopted
    4.9 Spanish Colonial Revival:1915-1942 - Adopted
    4.10 Streamline Moderne: 1934-1945 - Adopted
    4.11 Tudor Revival: 1900-1943 - Adopted
    Coming soon: Other architectural style guides will be developed through this process, such as Midcentury Modern (1945-1970s), Neoclassical (1900-1930), Queen Anne (1885-1910)
  5. Chapter 5 - Resources
    5.1 Paint Samples for Craftsman, Colonial Revival and Victorian
    5.2 Resource List: A referral list from Long Beach Heritage, including architects, contractors, painters, roofers etc.
    5.3 Window Referral List

Response to Comments:
Click below to review the public feedback for each of the adopted and proposed historic district design guidelines and a response to each comment, indicating if and how the comment was incorporated into the adopted design guidelines. Changes to the final guidelines also reflect feedback from the Cultural Heritage Commission; you can view video the Commission discussions by clicking here.

The fabric of our historic districts is made up of the materials, details and scale of each individual home and structure. Additions to homes in historic districts should be designed and constructed so as to preserve the significant materials, architectural features, and overall historic character of the home as well as the district. Changes in scale and massing can affect the overall unity, consistency and cohesion of the streetscape and the district. In reviewing the Certificate of Appropriateness for additions, the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) must take into account the effect the proposed addition has on both the home and the historic district. The review process addresses scale, materials, setbacks, massing, sightlines, architectural style, historic features and design. The CHC will review each submission on a case-by-case basis using the following as a guideline.
Additions should be designed to preserve, as much as possible, the original scale and overall character of the structure.

Some of the ways this can be accomplished include:

  • Placing the new addition on an inconspicuous side or rear elevation so that the new work does not result in a radical change to the form and character of the historic building
  • Setting an infill addition or connector back from the historic building wall plane so that the form of the historic building - or buildings - can be distinguished from the new work
  • Setting an additional story well back from the roof edge to ensure that the historic building's proportions and profile are not radically changed.
  • Limit the size and scale of the addition so that is does not diminish or overpower the original building and/or the character of the historic district.
Scale is an important character-defining attribute of historic buildings and one of the unifying factors in historic districts. In order to protect both the original character of the historic property and the visual consistency of the neighborhood, additions that are over 50% in size (square feet) to the original house will be carefully scrutinized by the CHC. The intent will be to minimize the visual impact of the larger additions in order to maintain the character of the district.
Each of the properties on the historic resources inventory is recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use.

In the spirit of preserving the historic fabric, the City encourages the preservation of distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that serve to characterize and define properties of historic significance. Likewise, the City discourages the addition of inappropriate features or architectural elements from other buildings.

New additions and alterations should be designed and constructed so that the character-defining features of the historic building are not radically changed, obscured, damaged, or destroyed.

Features that may be important in defining the overall historic character of the building include:

  • Siding: Clapboard, weatherboard, shingles, and other siding and decorative elements both functional and decorative.
  • Windows: Functional and decorative features or windows that define the overall historic character of a building (e.g., a decorative window with an unusual shape, glazing patterns, or color; historic window types; window proportions).
  • Entrances and porches: Entrances and porches, particularly when they occur on primary elevations.
  • Roofs: Such roof features as roof shape, dormers, cupolas, eaves and chimneys, as well as the size, color, and patterning of the roofing material.
  • Architectural features: Trim details, treatment of gables, overhangs.

Reference the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation for additions and rehabilitation of historic buildings.

The Long Beach Municipal Code Section 2.63.070 contains the following standards for review and approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness:

  • The proposed change will not adversely affect any significant historical, cultural, architectural or aesthetic feature of the concerned property or of the historic district in which it is located, and is consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter;
  • The proposed change is consistent with or not incompatible with the architectural period of the building;
  • The proposed change is compatible in architectural style with existing adjacent contributing structures in a historic district;
  • The scale, massing, proportions, materials, colors, textures, fenestration, decorative features and details proposed are consistent with the period and/or compatible with adjacent structures.

It is advisable to homeowners considering significant alterations and additions to contact the Historic Preservation Officer to discuss the proposed project. Preliminary plans and concepts can be reviewed for compatibility with the CHC guidelines and the Municipal Code.