Landmark FAQs

(This information is provided by the Urban Conservation Section of the Planning Divisions, City of Pasadena)

Q. What is a landmark district?

A landmark district is an area which possesses character, interest, or value as a part of the heritage of the City. A landmark district, as is Washington Square, may also be the location of structures that embody elements of outstanding attention to architectural or landscape design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship.

Q. What is the purpose of a landmark district?

The purpose of the district is to preserve the historic qualities of the area and to deter demolition, destruction, alteration, misuse, or neglect of architecturally significant buildings that form an important link to Pasadena’s past.

Q. How does a neighborhood become a landmark district?

Residents of a proposed landmark district first develop a conservation plan, which sets forth the goals and objectives of the proposed district. They then petition the City for designation as a landmark district. Signatures from at least 51% of the property owners within the district must accompany the petition. The Board of Directors must vote for final approval of the petition before an area can be designated as a district. Washington Square became the City’s third landmark district in 2003.

Q. How does designation as a landmark district affect my property?

Exterior alterations to architectural features on buildings, new construction, and demolitions require review aid a “Certificate of Appropriateness” if open to public view. Once an application for the certificate is filed, the Urban Conservation city staff performs initial reviews and some minor approvals before a Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. Major projects are referred by the city staff to the Landmark District Review Commission for approval prior to a Certificate of Appropriateness being issued. Items such as interior alterations, house painting, landscaping, and routine maintenance are exempt from review. The city staff is available to help you with the application and review process and to provide technical project assistance from staff members rained in architecture and preservation.

Q. What is the Landmark District Review Commission?

The Landmark District Review Commission is a six-member board appointed by the Board of Directors. Its members are representatives of the Design Commission, the Cultural Heritage Commission, the Planning Commission, a realtor, an architect and a property owner within the district. The Commission meets monthly, every third Thursday, in room 214 in City Hall. The meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. and are open to the public.