Frequently Asked Questions

How did my home get on the Historic Resource Inventory List?

  • Between 1977 and 1978, the City of Campbell conducted a citywide survey, resulting in a list of 467 potentially historic properties. These properties were then reviewed by a panel of architectural and historic advisors, and rated against state guidelines issued by the Office of Historic Preservation. The Historic Preservation Board (HPB) then reduced the list to 125 properties, based on their survey rating. The initial Historic Resource Inventory was formally adopted by the City Council on August 7, 1984 (City Council Resolution 6793). The City Council also directed the HPB to review and update the HRI every five years. Since 1984, the Historic Resource Inventory has grown to a current list of 147 properties, not including structures that have been demolished overtime, or “eligible resources” that have not officially been designated as historic.

What does it mean to be on the Eligible Resource list?

  • The City’s Eligible Resource list is for planning purposes only. There are a number of homes that are on the eligible resource list, but have not officially been designated as historic. The purpose of maintaining an eligible resource list is to informally identify resources that may be eligible for historic designation. However, structures that are listed on the Eligible Resource list are not subject to the Historic Preservation Ordinance until such time that they are officially designated by the City Council.

What does it mean to be on the Historic Resource Inventory?

  • Homes and other resources listed on the formally adopted Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) are protected by the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance (Campbell Municipal Code Chapter 21.33). While there are some restrictions on changes made to a historic home, there are also many benefits (as briefly described in this FAQ). Otherwise the home is treated the same as any other home in the City of Campbell.

What benefits are available to owners of historic homes?

Owners of historic homes may qualify for reduced property taxes, exceptions to development regulations, and State Historic Building Code allowances as an incentive for maintaining the historic integrity of the home or building. 

  • Reduced Property Taxes: Homeowners may be eligible for reduced property taxes through the City’s Mills Act program. The Mills Act is a state law allowing cities and homeowners to enter into a contract allowing reduced property taxes in exchange for the continued preservation of the property. Property taxes are recalculated using a formula in the Mills Act and Revenue and Taxation Code. Mills Act contracts must be approved by the City Council following a recommendation by the Historic Preservation Board.
  • Zoning Exceptions: A homeowner may be eligible for an exception to the City’s zoning regulations, if the exception helps minimize impacts to the historic character of the home. For example, the City may allow reduced setbacks for an addition to the rear of the home in order to protect he historic characteristics of the front of the home. Another exception might allow reduced parking standards on a historic property with a small lot size.
  • Historic Building Code: The California Historic Building Code (CHBC) provides alternative regulations for the preservation of historic resources. City staff can help answer questions about the CHBC.

Do I need to go through more paperwork or delays if my home is historic?

  • The City of Campbell recognizes that interior and exterior alterations are often necessary to assure a building’s functionality for generations to come. It is important, however, that these alterations do not distract from the defining features of a historic home. 
  • The Historic Preservation Ordinance  was recently revised to make it easier to update a historic home. Routine maintenance of a historic home (e.g., replacement of a roof or a window with equivalent materials) has the same requirements as a non-historic home. Otherwise, work that modifies the exterior appearance of a historic home generally falls under one of two levels of review. Changes to a Structure of Merit that are consistent with state guidelines for historic preservation can generally be approved under the same process as non-historic homes. If your home is a Landmark or is located in the Alice Avenue Historic District, your proposal will be reviewed by the HPB at their next available meeting on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Significant changes that are not consistent with historic guidelines will most likely require review by the HPB, the Planning Commission, and the City Council. Hiring a designer or architect who has experience with historic homes is recommended to help homeowners design an addition that meets the criteria for approval. City staff can help if you have any questions about the historic guidelines.

Will I be prevented from remodeling or upgrading the interior of my historic home?

  • No. Changes to the interior of a historic home have the same requirements as a non-historic home.

Can I add solar panels to my historic home’s roof?

  • Yes. Adding solar panels to the roof of a historic home has the same requirements as a non-historic home. If possible, it is preferred that the solar panels not be visible from the public street.

Can I paint my historic home’s exterior any color?

  • Yes. It is preferred that the color be consistent with the historic character of the home. Fortunately, many of the paint color manufacturers have historic color palettes with a variety of colors to suit most people’s preferences.

Can I make my historic home larger?

  • Yes, so long as the addition meets the City’s residential development standards, and so long as the addition is consistent with Campbell’s Historic Design Guidelines and state guidelines for historic preservation.
  • There are many techniques that a homeowner can use to successfully obtain approval of an addition to a historic home. Locating the new addition at the rear or on an inconspicuous side elevation of a historic home can help retain its historic character as viewed from the street. Likewise, new additions should not make it difficult or impossible to differentiate the old from the new or to recognize what part of the historic building is genuinely historic. At the same time, the new addition should maintain a compatible relationship with the historic portion of the home in size, scale, materials, craftsmanship, and overall visual appearance. Hiring a designer or architect who has experience with historic homes is recommended to help homeowners design an addition that meets the criteria for approval.

Can I change the exterior architecture of my historic home?

  • Changes that significantly alter the characteristic architecture of a historic home are generally not allowed. However, there are many ways to increase a historic home’s functionality and living space without radically altering its defining architectural features. To the greatest extent possible, alterations to a home should repair rather than replace deteriorated historic features and avoid removal or significant alteration of distinctive materials, features, finishes, and spatial relationships that characterize the historic home.

Can I demolish my historic home and rebuild a new one?

  • The purpose of the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance is to preserve and protect culturally and historically significant resources in the City. However, demolition of a historic structure is not outright prohibited. Demolition may be possible if the home no longer meets the City’s historic designation criteria. Likewise, demolition may be permitted if necessary to correct an unsafe or dangerous condition or upon demonstration of substantial hardship. However, if the home still meets the criteria for historic designation, then California law requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Report to assess the feasibility of alternatives to the demolition