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Historic Preservation


Glendale's Historic District Initiative

The City of Glendale is committed to the preservation of its historic buildings, neighborhoods, and sites as part of its overall goal of planning for the future. By looking back and preserving key places that contribute to the shared history of all city residents - past, present, and future - we establish a framework that allows the city to develop, grow, and prosper without erasing the heritage that helps define Glendale and its people.

Basic Info

Frequently Asked Questions


  • What, exactly, is a historic district?
    A historic district is a geographically definable area with a concentration of properties that have some link, continuity or thematic relationship that unifies them aesthetically by historical or physical development. Usually more than 60 percent of the properties in the defined area must contribute to this definition. A historic district creates an “overlay zone” on top of the existing zoning, such as R-1. Within this zone, the guidelines will supplement zoning rules and take precedence over existing design guidelines.
  • What does the historic districting ordinance do?
    The ordinance does two things: it creates city-wide design guidelines applicable to any adopted historic district in Glendale. The ordinance also creates a standardized, transparent, city-supervised process by which historic districts can be proposed by and voted upon by residents. The ordinance does not itself create any historic districts.
  • Why do we need historic district guidelines if we already have design review?
    Other existing design guidelines are very general and sometimes hard to interpret. While the current design review system has helped, experience has shown that DRBs are still approving mini-mansions and remodels that are incompatible with the neighborhood. In a historic district, the guidelines are more precise and geared towards preserving historic styles. Glendale’s historic neighborhoods are changing every day and there is, unfortunately, unpermitted remodeling and building taking place that destroys the physical character of the neighborhood. This can also lead to devaluation.
  • Where do the historic district guidelines apply?
    They apply only in designated historic districts. However, they are an excellent guideline for anyone living in an older home of a defined architectural style.
  • What do the guidelines cover?
    The guidelines apply only to alterations to single and multi-family residences visible from the street and cover: Siding and exterior finishes Doors and windows Roofs and porches Garages and outbuildings Streetscapes
  • What do the guidelines not cover?
    The guidelines do not apply to: Commercial properties Alterations not visible from the street Interiors and color Routine maintenance and repair
  • What is a “historic resources survey?”
    Before a district can be considered, a historic resources survey is required to determine if there are enough historic homes in a proposed district. A survey classifies homes as being “contributing” (historic) or “non-contributing” (not historic), usually because of prior alterations. At least 60% of the homes in a proposed district must be contributing. A historic resources survey has been completed for each of the designated historic districts in Glendale and can be reviewed by contacting the City of Glendale Planning Department.
  • What if my home isn’t “historic?”
    If the historic resources survey determines that your home is non-contributing, you will not be required to conduct remodeling in keeping with the original design or within guidelines related to design of other styles of houses. If you decide to remodel, you are encouraged to stay within the framework of the house’s style and help maintain the visual coherence of the district.
  • Will I ever be forced to remodel if I live in a historic district?
    No. You will never be forced to remodel your home if you are in a historic district.
  • Will remodeling cost more in a historic district?
    Unless you were going to remodel your home “on the cheap” in the first place, remodeling your home in a historically sensitive way should not be more costly than it would be outside of a district. The design guidelines were written with cost in mind.
  • Can I add to my home?
    Yes. The historic design guidelines do not prohibit you from enlarging your home.
  • If I remodel, will I be forced to remodel more than I want to?"
    No. The guidelines only apply to items reasonably related to your proposed project. For instance, if you remodel your windows, you will not be required to remodel your roof.
  • The guidelines seem huge. How do I use them?
    The guidelines cover many home styles and types of alterations. Despite their length, you will only need to refer to a few pages for any one project. Here’s how they work: Determine the scope of your project- say you are remodeling your roof. Read only those sections applicable to roofs- the roof guidelines common to all styles (4 pages), and the roof guidelines specific to your style of home (1/2 page)- a total of 4-1/2 pages in all.
  • Are there more bureaucracy or fees to remodel my home in a historic district?
    No. Historic districting does not add any layer of bureaucracy. You already must go through design review for most alterations on a home in any neighborhood in Glendale. Instead of being reviewed by the Design Review Board (DRB), your project will go to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for review. The guidelines do not apply to routine maintenance and repairs that don’t affect the character of a home. In fact, because the guidelines are more detailed than the existing design guidelines, getting though design review should be easier, more fair, and more predictable within the framework of a historic district. Fees will not be more in a historic district.
  • What have other cities done and where does Glendale stand?
    Glendale was one of the last cities in the Los Angeles area to adopt historic districts. There is a long tradition in most all cities in Southern California with older neighborhoods of protecting them by using the historic districting process. Cities that do have districts continue to create more.
  • How do you form a district? Will I ever be forced to join?
    A historic district can only be formed when a simple majority of the neighbors approve of it (within the defined boundaries). The City Council has the final vote. For those within the boundaries of a proposed district who oppose formation, the process gives those individuals an opportunity to voice opposition in a public forum on several occasions. If the defined boundaries are approved and the historic district is adopted by City Council, then every house within these boundaries is part of the historic district.
  • Will historic districting increase the value of my home?
    It is commonly accepted that homes in historic districts fare relatively well with respect to property values, compared to their non-district counterparts. At best, property values may be higher and at least, they tend to be more stable in a down market. Across the country, studies indicate that historic districting increases property values. This happens because homebuyers are assured that the unique character that makes their neighborhood attractive and “valuable” will be preserved in the future.
  • Do the guidelines protect trees?
    Yes. The guidelines encourage maintaining and protecting healthy, mature trees. The guidelines also contain other limited landscaping and streetscape elements.
  • My neighborhood isn’t “historic,” so why does a historic district make sense?"
    Your neighborhood may not be “historic” by worldwide standards or by your personal definition. The important thing that defines “historic” is the context the term is used in. For example, within the context of the United States Department of the Interior’s definition and the State of California’s Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), it may be historic. The purpose of the ordinance is to empower neighbors to voluntarily work together to preserve the character of their home and the neighborhood. It empowers a neighborhood and serves as a local preservation ordinance. Unless our neighborhoods are preserved now, they will never have the chance to become historic.
  • I’ve heard that there are tax benefits. Is that true?
    No. Although there are some tax advantages for landmark homes listed on the Glendale through The Mills Act, state or national registers, there are currently no tax advantages for simply being within a historic district. Taxes will not increase, either.
  • Where can I get more information?
    For more information, you can contact the City Historic Preservation Planner at (818) 548-2140 or visit the city website at:

Historic Restoration Resources

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