Historic Preservation Program


Photo of Redlands Bowl and fireworks

The City of Redlands has a long and rich history, and its citizenry has always been concerned with preservation of its history by maintaining its architectural and scenic resources.

In 1986, the City adopted an ordinance that created the Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission which has responsibility over historic resources. The Commission has seven citizen members, all with special expertise and experience in history, architectural history, planning, historic preservation, and related professional fields.  The Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission meets on the first Thursday of each month in the City Council Chamber located at 35 Cajon Street. Planning Division staff are responsible for providing support to the Commission, and can respond to questions regarding historic and scenic preservation.

Images of historic A.K. Smiley Public Library

Why is historical preservation important to city planning? The video ”Keeping the Promise That Is Redlands” (click here) was featured at the Mayor’s State of the City Address on June 22, 2018, and illustrates why we continue to implement good Historic Preservation practices.


The Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission is authorized by City Council to preserve, protect, and promote the City’s historic and scenic resources. The Commission may make recommendations, decisions, and determinations concerning the designation, preservation, protection, enhancement and perpetuation of these historical, scenic and cultural resources which contribute to the culture and aesthetic values of the city (Redlands Municipal Code Chapter 2.62).

The City of Redlands is proud to be a “Certified Local Government” (CLG) in cooperation with the National Park Service as well as the State Office of Historic Preservation in the interest of historic preservation goals. 

Birdseye View Redlands 1888

Resources & Documents

2020 Historic and Scenic Preservation Schedule & Calendar
List of Designated Historic Resources
2019 Schedule and Calendar of Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission Meetings
Historic Design Manual
Historic Context Statement
Draft Historic Design Guidelines  - proposed (not yet adopted)
Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties


The Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission has responsibility for the following functions. 

I. Formation of Historic Districts

The Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission has the primary responsibility of making a recommendation to the City Council on the formation of a Historic District. A Historic District is a geographical area that has a significant architectural enclave of historic buildings or scenic vistas. Applications for the formation of a District can be made by the City or from an individual.

II. Designation of Historic Resources

Application for Historic Designation 

DPR Form 523A

DPR Form 523B

DPR Form 523L

The Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission has the primary responsibility of making a recommendation to the City Council on the designation of an individual structure as a Historic Resource. A structure with aesthetic, architectural, or historical value which is 50 years old or more may be designated as a Historic Resource. A structure with exceptional aesthetic, architectural, or historical value can be designated as a Landmark Resource.

Image of Redlands Bowl and fireworks

Image of historic Santa Fe Depot

III. Certificates of Appropriateness

Application for Certificate of Appropriateness

A Certificate of Appropriateness is an application upon which the Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission makes a decision to alter, demolish, move, or subdivide a building/property which has been designated Landmark or Historic Resource or within the boundaries of a Historic District designated by the City Council. This means that any modification to the outside of the structure (subsequent to formal designation) must be approved through this COA application.  Changes to the exterior of a building need to be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

IV. Demolition Review of Designated Resources and Structures Over 50 Years Old

Application for Demolition Permit 

Any structure designated as a Historic or Landmark Resource by the City must have a Certificate of Appropriateness for demolition approved by the Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission. This involves a public hearing and the Statement of Findings as defined by the Redlands Municipal Code. Demolition of any structure over fifty (50) years old needs to have approval from the Historic and Scenic Commission regardless of whether it is designated or not. If you are unsure of the age of the structure please check with City staff.

V. Mills Act Applications

Mills Act Application

The Mills Act is an incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of designated historic buildings by private property owners. A Mills Act Contract grants a reduction in local property taxes in exchange for an agreement to actively participate in the restoration, rehabilitation, repairing and preserving of their historic property.  The Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission reviews and provides guidance on 10-Year Rehabilitation Plans that are part of a requested Mills Act Contract, and make a recommendation on the application to the City Council. Please contact Planning staff to discuss how a Mills Act Contract might be beneficial to your property, or for further information about obtaining a Mills Act Contract.  You may also visit the Mills Act Contract webpage (click here) for further information. 

VI. Environmental Review

Some projects, especially demolitions, may require environmental review depending on the structure and the type of changes being proposed. This would mean that if a significant impact to historic resources were identified, either an Initial Study would be prepared to identify the impact and determine if the impact could be mitigated.

Facts about Historic Preservation in Redlands

Some projects do not require review from the Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission, but instead may be approved by staff. However, it is best to communicate with staff and coordinate your project before proceeding forward. The following is a list of projects which do not typically require review from the Historic & Scenic Preservation Commission:

  • Alterations to the inside of any structure, including designated structures.
  • Landscaping unless specifically designated.
  • Outside alterations to structures which are less than fifty (50) years old.
  • Outside alterations to structures over fifty (50) years which are not designated and not located in a district; however, it is best to consult with staff as to the sensitivity of older structures.
  • Re-Painting of a building in the same colors

Again, it is best to discuss your project with Planning staff and confirm if your project qualifies for an exemption from review, prior to proceeding with your project or any structure/property modifications. This is a brief introduction to historic presentation principles,  and does not explain every detail that may affect your property. For this reason, it is very important to coordinate with Planning staff on any potential project. Our staff is dedicated to serving the public and we are here to help. Please feel free to contact any staff member with questions or concerns.

Historic Context Statement

In 2016, the City of Redlands received a Historic Preservation Fund Grant from the State Office of Historic Preservation to produce a “Historic Context Statement” document. A Historic Context Statement is a narrative report that provides the framework for identifying potential historic resources and evaluating their historic significance and integrity. This report identifies important themes relevant to the history and development of the City of Redlands, including: significant property types; time periods of historical significance; and character-defining features of important architectural styles. This rich document provides guidance to residents, City staff, Commissioners, and historic preservation professionals. The Historic Context Statement was approved by the City Council on September 19, 2017. ​

Historic Context Statement – September 19, 2017
Community Meeting, June 12, 2017 – Powerpoint Presentation - ”What is a Historic Context Statement?”