As a Historic District, California Heights is subject to guidelines and standards for any work done on the homes. These guidelines are administered by the office of Historic Preservation in Development Services and the Cultural Heritage Commission. California Heights has a specific ordinance and is also subject to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.
When doing any work in California Heights, or any Historic District in the City, a Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) is required. Even work that does not require a building permit, per se, requires a C of A. This process assures residents of the Historic Districts that the historic fabric and character of their neighborhood is protected and preserved.
You can access the Historic District Guidelines and the California Heights Ordinance at the Long Beach Development Services website.
It is very helpful for residents, and their contractors, to familiarize themselves with the history and the process. Application forms for a C of A can also be downloaded from the website. Researching the guidelines prior to designing an addition will make the process much easier. Residents can also reach out to Staff in Development Services for more specific questions on a project.
At one point in time, California Heights was zoned R-2 (residential, two units per lot). This up-zoning began to negativity impact the neighborhood and residents petitioned to have the neighborhood down-zoned to R-1 (residential, one unit per lot). After the success of the down-zoning, the next step was to become a Historic District. California Heights was the fourth Historic District designated in Long Beach. There are now 17 Districts, with California Heights being the largest. It was a challenge to accomplish, but the results have been very positive.
The design guidelines have protected the neighborhood from the over building that older communities such as Manhattan Beach and Corona Del Mar have experienced. Cal Heights has maintained its original charm and it has been enhanced by residents restoring their properties and supporting the restoration of our vintage lampposts. Residents appreciate the tree lined streets, the vintage lampposts, the charming architecture and the true sense of community in Cal Heights.
The many years of volunteer work in our community has paid off, both in our quality of life and our property values. It is a proven fact that property values are higher in Historic Districts compared to other areas and that in a downturn, they maintain their value better and recover quicker. Despite the limitations on what you can do to your property as far as additions, changes, etc. the benefits outweigh the restrictions. Cal Heights is a very desirable area to live and this had been enhanced by the Historic District designation. It is up to all residents to follow the guidelines for our neighborhood. In doing so, you enhance your property and your neighborhood.