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Historic Designations

Is my property Historic?

For a property to be considered historic, the property had to be listed on the City’s List of Historic Resources prior to September 1, 2003, or surveyed at the intensive level in accordance with the standards set forth by the California Office of Historic Preservation after September 1, 2003, and determined to meet the designation criteria for historic landmarks by the Historic Preservation Subcommittee. These properties are determined to be Eligible Historical Resources. Any area and neighborhood surveyed at the Intensive level in accordance with the standards set forth by the California Office of Historic Preservation, and determined to meet the designation criteria for historic districts by the Historic Preservation Subcommittee is determined to be an Eligible Historic District. To find out whether or not your property is on the list, please contact the Planning Department.

Historic Properties – Can I have my property removed?

Any property / structure that does not meet the criteria in the Historic Preservation Ordinance (Sec 9-1.2615 of the Ontario Development Code) may be removed from the City’s List of Eligible Historic Resources. The criteria are also contained on page 1 and 2 of this checklist.

Historic Landmarks – Can I have my property designated?

Any property / structure that meets the criteria in the Historic Preservation Ordinance (Sec 9-1.2615 of the Ontario Development Code) can be designated a Local Historic Landmark. Neighborhoods that meet the criteria can be designated a Local Historic District. The City has already conducted a Historical Resources Survey. Many of the properties are contained on the City’s List of Eligible Historical Resources. Research on many these properties has already been conducted. If a property is not on the City’s List of Eligible Historical Resources, it can still be designated, if it meets the designation criteria, once the property is surveyed.

Historic Districts – Can I have my neighborhood designated?

Any neighborhood that meets the criteria in the Historic Preservation Ordinance (Sec 9-1.2615 of the Ontario Development Code) can be designated a Local Historic District. Properties that contribute to the significance of the neighborhood are considered contributing structures and are treated just like a local landmark. Newer structures and those that do not contribute to the significance of the neighborhood are considered non-contributing structures. These properties have more flexibility with alterations, but are not eligible for any Historic Preservation incentives. In order for a neighborhood to be designated, a majority of the properties in the proposed district must be contributing structures.

What is the designation process?

All applications are submitted to the Planning Department for review. The Planning Department researches the property, with assistance from the Model Colony Local History Room, to determine the historic significance of the property. A staff report is prepared and taken before the Historic Preservation Subcommittee. The Historic Preservation Subcommittee reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the Historic Preservation Commission. A public hearing is held before the Historic Preservation Commission. Historic Preservation Commission then makes a recommendation to the City Council. City Council holds a public hearing and determines whether to designate the property.

The National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources

What is the California Register of Historic Resources?

The State Historical Resources Commission has designed this program for use by state and local agencies, private groups and citizens to identify, evaluate, register and protect California's historical resources. The Register is the authoritative guide to the state's significant historical and archeological resources. The California Register program encourages public recognition and protection of resources of architectural, historical, archeological and cultural significance, identifies historical resources for state and local planning purposes, determines eligibility for state historic preservation grant funding and affords certain protections under the California Environmental Quality Act. For a copy of the California Register criteria, please call the Planning Department.

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

Created in 1966 by the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Register is a nationwide inventory of buildings, districts, sites, and objects that are important to the history of a local community, the state or the nation. Importance is based on factors such as architecture, culture, archeology, and associations with famous persons or events. The National Park Service maintains the Register. For a copy of the National Register criteria, please call the Planning Department.

What involvement does the City have?

Although the nomination process is through the State Office of Historic Preservation, as a Certified Local Government, the City of Ontario is consulted regarding any application submitted to the state. The Planning Department staff can assist you in preparation of your application, and review it with the Historic Preservation Commission.

Alterations to Historic Properties

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness

A Certificate of Appropriateness is a permit issued by the Historic Preservation Subcommittee for any alteration, restoration, rehabilitation, addition, or relocation to any Eligible Historical Resource. Any Designated Historic Landmark or a contributing structure in a Designated Historic District requires review by the Historic Preservation Commission. The Certificate of Appropriateness is used to insure that any change made to a historical resource preserves the original character and architectural features of that property. The Historic Preservation Subcommittee reviews applications to determine whether or not the proposed changes are appropriate and maintain the original character and features of the historic resource. A Certificate of Appropriateness is required before any other permits can be obtained.

What is the approval process?

All applications are submitted to the Planning Department for review to determine if the proposed alteration is in keeping with the character of the Historical Resource. A staff report is prepared and taken before the Historic Preservation Subcommittee. The Historic Preservation Subcommittee holds a public hearing and determines whether to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness. For Designated Landmarks and Contributing Structures in Designated Districts the Subcommittee makes a recommendation to the Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission holds a public hearing and determines whether to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness.

Demolition of Historic Properties

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?

A Certificate of Appropriateness for demolition is a permit issued by the Historic Preservation Commission for any demolition to any Eligible Historical Resource. The Certificate of Appropriateness is used to address the impact to the historic resource. A Certificate of Appropriateness is required before any other permits can be obtained.

What is the approval process?

All applications are submitted to the Planning Department for review to determine if the proposed demolition meets the requirements in the Development Code. A staff report is prepared and taken before the Historic Preservation Subcommittee. The Historic Preservation Subcommittee makes a recommendation to the Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission holds a public hearing and determines whether to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness.

What are the requirements for demolition?

The Development Code requires the following:

Documentation: All historic buildings are required to be documented provide a record of the Historic Resource prior to their demolition. The documentation can include Plans such as a site plan, floor plans, elevations, detail drawings of character defining features, such as moldings, stairs, etc.; and / or photographs shall include the exterior, interior, and interior and exterior character defining features, such as moldings, light fixtures, trim patterns, etc.

Replacement Structures: The Code also requires the approval of replacement structures on the site before a Certificate of Appropriateness can be approved and a permit issued for their construction prior to the demolition permit being issued.

Salvaged Features and Artifacts: In an effort to preserve features and artifacts from historic structures, a determination of whether items within or on the building should be salvaged must be made by the Planning Department and may include the local historical society prior to the issuance of the demolition permit.

Mitigation Fee: A mitigation fee must be paid to the Planning Department in accordance with the requirements of Section 9-1.2633, prior to the issuance of a demolition permit. The Fee for Tier I and II structures will be determined through the environmental review process. The fee table for Tier III buildings has been included on page 5 of this application.

Is there an environmental review required?

Yes, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that any proposed alteration or demolition be reviewed to determine if there is a significant adverse effect on the environment. A demolition may be determined to have a significant adverse effect on the environment, requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Mills Act

What is a Mills Act Contract?

A Mills Act Contract is a contract between the owner of a designated historical resource and the City of Ontario. All properties within the City of Ontario that have been designated as Local Historic Landmarks, contributing structures in Designated Local Historic Districts and properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register of Historic Resources are eligible for Mills Act Contracts, pursuant to the provisions of Article 12, Section 50280 through Section 50289, Chapter 1, Part 1, Title 5, of the California Government Code are.

The purpose of a Mills Act Contract is to provide property tax relief for historic properties in return for the owners of the property maintaining and preserving the historic character of the property. Mills Act contracts are for a period of 10 years and are automatically renewed unless a notice of non-renewal is submitted. With a notice of non-renewal the contract will be terminated at the end of the 10 year period. Any cancellation of a Mills Act contract is subject to a penalty of 12½ percent of the assessed market value of the property.

What is the approval process?

All applications are submitted to the Planning Department for review. A staff report and draft contract are prepared and taken before the Historic Preservation Subcommittee. The Historic Preservation Subcommittee reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the City Council. City Council makes a determination to enter into the contract. Within 20 days of an approval, the contract must be filed with the County Recorder’s office. A recorded copy of the contract is then sent to the County Assessor’s office.

When will the savings be reflected in by Tax Bill?

It can take up to 18 months from the time the application is submitted until you see the savings. All contracts recorded during the Calendar Year (from January 1st until December 31st) goes into effect during the next year’s tax cycle. For example, if a contract recorded in 2003, the savings will show up on your 2004 tax bill, typically mailed sometime after June.

Historic Plaques

Can I purchase a plaque for my property?

A Plaque can be purchased for any designated Local Historic Landmark or Contributing Structure in a designated Local Historic District. The plaques are designed by the City and approved by the property owner. Once the location is approved and the plaque created, the plaque contractor will install the plaque at the City’s expense. The City of Ontario does not pay for the cost of the plaque, only the cost of installation. In order for the plaque to be installed, the contractor must have access to the location in which the plaque is to be located.

Can the plaque be placed anywhere on the property?

The City of Ontario Planning Department requires all plaques to be visible from the street. Typically, a plaque would be placed on the front wall of the house next to the main entrance. Both the Planning Department and the owner of the property must approve the location of the plaque.


Last updated: 7/3/2014 9:00:21 AM