Frequently Asked Questions
Included on this page are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked by our constituents. We hope these answer any questions you may have as well, and lead you to additional helpful information.
Don't see your question here? Send it to us and we will get the answer back to you!
Where can I find out which staff member to contact for assistance?
Our Staff Directory lists contact information for Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) staff by Unit assignment and also alphabetically. Staff contacts also are listed on each of our main program pages.
Where would I find information about protecting historic resources during disasters?
Visit our Disasters and Historic Resources page for information and links to resources related to disaster planning, response, and recovery. Additionally, the OHP has created a disasters task force to provide assistance to those dealing with the impact of disasters on historic resources. The task force coordinator, Tim Brandt, can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (916) 445-7049.
Where would I find information on historic resources in California?
The California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS), through its database and regional Information Centers (ICs), maintains and manages a wide range of documents and materials relating to California’s historical resources. Take a look at our Registration Programs page, as well, to find out if a particular historic resource is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources, or is a California Historical Landmark. Your local history museum, historical society, or college archive also may provide information on historic resources in the area.
What is a historic resource survey and where would I find information about it?
A historic resource survey is a process used by agencies, local governments, non-profits, and others to identify and document historic resources within a community, neighborhood, project area, or region. For additional information and guidance on the use of historic resource surveys, visit our Historic Surveys and Contexts page.
How can I find out if my property is historic?
A good first step is to check with your local government's planning office and/or historic preservation office to see if your property has any kind of local historic designation. Historic property activity or designation information also may be found by researching the inventory of the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). You also may want to check the National Register Information System (NRIS) to see if your property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
What kind of funding is available to fix up my historic property?
Fundng for historic preservation projects can be challenging due to often limited funding options. For information on some of the options that are available, visit our webpages for the Mills Act, Grants, Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, and Potential Funding Sources for Historic Preservation.
What is the Mills Act and where would I find more information about it?
The Mills Act is state enabling legislation that allows local governments to enter into a contract with owners of a "qualified historical property" to restore, rehabilitate, or maintain their property in exchange for potentially significant property tax savings. Each local government can adopt a Mills Act Program that meets the needs of their individual community so long as it follows the state statute found in the California Government Code Article 12 Sections 50280-50290. For more information and to determine if your local government participates in the program, visit our Mills Act page.
What is the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program and what kind of historic properties and projects qualify?
The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program provides a 20% federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of income producing, certified qualified historic buildings, and a tax deduction for easements on certified historic properties. For tax credit projects, the rehabilitation must be substantial and must involve a depreciable building. Regulations and restrictions apply. Additional information can be found on our Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program page.
How do I nominate a property for listing on the California or National Registers?
Each registration program is unique in the benefits offered and procedures required. If a resource meets the criteria for registration, it may be nominated by any individual, group, or local government to any program at any time. Information about the nomination process for the California Register, National Register, and other registration programs is available through our Registration Programs page.
Where would I find information on what is listed on the California or National Registers?
Historic property designation information may be found by researching the inventory of the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). For National Register of Historic Places listings, you also may want to check the National Register Information System (NRIS) or the NPS Focus Digital Asset Search. Recently listed properties also can be found on the National Register Weekly Listings site. The California Register of Historical Resources (California Register) includes buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts significant to the collective heritage of California. Listed resources can be found on our Listed California Historical Resources page (Note: This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the California Register and does not reflect resources listed by consensus determination). To obtain a complete list of resources listed in the California Register, please contact the appropriate regional Information Center of the California Historical Resources Information System.
How do I nominate a property as a California Historical Landmark?
Our California Historical Landmarks Registration page provides designation criteria, step-by-step procedures, technical bulletins, and required forms for the nomination process.
Where may I get information on California Historical Landmarks?
General information about the Landmarks program is available on our California Historical Landmarks Registration page. For information on specific California Historical Landmarks (CHLs), visit California Historical Landmarks by County (Note: information is added to this page on a periodic basis, so it may not yet contain the most recent CHLs). Historic property activity or designation information also may be found by researching the inventory of the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS), and local designations may be confirmed by checking with your local planning office or historic preservation office.
What are DPR 523 forms and where would I find them?
The DPR 523 series of forms are used for recording and evaluating historic resources and for nominating properties as California Historical Landmarks, Points of Interest, and to the California Register of Historical Resources. Visit our Forms page to download the forms and instructions.
How may I get a plaque for my historic property?
Owners of registered historic properties may purhcase a marker or plaque from one of several manufacturers. Neither the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) nor the National Park Service (NPS) promotes or recommends any particular type of marker or plaque. There are no requirements regarding inscriptions on plaques for properties listed on the National Register, the California Register, or as a California Point of Historical Interest. Please see our Registration Programs page for specific requirements regarding plaques for registered California Historical Landmarks (CHLs). An offical state landmark plaque is the standard marker used for CHLs.
What is the State Historical Resources Commission?
The State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) is a nine-member board appointed by the Governor with responsibilities for the identification, registration, and preservation of California's cultural, historical, and archaeological heritage. Among the SHRC duties is reviewing and voting on nominations for the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historical Resources, California Historical Landmarks, and California Historical Points of Interest.
When will the State Historical Resources Commission hold their next meeting and what nominations will the SHRC be considering?
The SHRC holds meetings on a quarterly basis and all meetings are open to the public. Locations, dates, times, and agendas can be found on the SHRC Meeting Schedule and Notices page. Meeting notices and agendas are posted ten days prior to the meeting date. A list of the nominations up for consideration can be found on the Pending Nominations page.
Is it possible to comment on a registration nomination (California, National, Points of Historical Interest, California Historical Landmarks) prior to the State Historical Resources Commission meeting?
Written comments regarding nominations may be submitted to California State Parks, Attn: Office of Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Officer, 1725 23rd Street, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95816. It is requested, though not required, that written comments be received by the Office of Historic Preservation fifteen (15) days in advance of the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) meeting so as to allow the SHRC adequate time to consider the comments.
How do I initiate a Section 106 SHPO consultation?
Visit our Section 106-Federal Agency Compliance page for information and guidance to help federal agencies understand their responsibilities for complying with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The OHP also provides a Section 106 Submittals Checklist to help ensure that all necessary information is included in submittals to our office.
What is a "status code" and where would I find more information about it?
California Historical Resource Status Codes are part of a hierarchical system that reflects the level of identification, evaluation, and designation of a cultural resource. Because the assigned status code reflects an opinion or action taken at a specific point in time, a resource's status may change based on its integrity, significance, and age. More information on status codes can be found on our Publications and Technical Bulletins page, and in Technical Assistance Bulletin 8.
Where would I find information about preparing an archaeological report?
Please see the OHP document Archaeological Resource Management Reports for useful guidance on preparing and reviewing archaeological survey reports. Before conducting any archeological excavation, investigators should prepare an archaeological research design to guide the scope of study. OHP Guidelines for Archaeological Research Designs
How do I find an appropriately qualified archaeologist?
The CHRIS Historical Resources Consultants List provides a listing of consultants in a number of disciplines. The list is searchable by county, discipline, and consultant’s name.
How do I record an archaeological site or historic structure?
Anyone can record a cultural resource, be it a site, building, structure, object, or district. An instruction manual and DPR 523 Forms are available on our website. We recommend that the forms be filed with the appropriate regional Information Center of the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS).
What is a Tribal Cultural Resource (TCR)?
According to state law, a TCR may be "a site, feature, place, cultural landscape, sacred place, or object with cultural value to a California Native American tribe" (Public Resources Code section 21074). Visit the Native American Heritage Commission website for information about TCRs. The Governor's Office of Planning and Research provides a technical advisory on AB52.
What should I do if I find an artifact?
If you encounter an artifact, leave it in place! Archaeological sites and artifacts are best understood when studied within their original context. Additionally, state and federal laws prohibit the removal of archaeological items from some locations. So, if possible, please return any found artifacts to the location from which they were removed. If the artifact cannot be returned, consider contacting a qualified archaeologist, a Native American group local to the area where it originated, or the Archaeology/Anthropology department of a local university to determine how to appropriately handle the item. The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) does not have an artifact repository so please do not send artifacts to the OHP.
What should I do if I am concerned about project impacts to an archaeological site?
Our office does not issue permits for construction projects and does not have the authority to halt any construction. If you are concerned about an archaeological resource that is or may be affected by a proposed project, please contact your local government first to determine what local or state laws concerning cultural/archaeological resources apply to the location of the resource, or to identify the agency that is permitting or overseeing the work. If you know the agency that has permitted the work, start by contacting that agency to register your comment or request additional information.
Does CEQA apply to historical resources?
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires state and local agencies to identify the environmental impacts of proposed discretionary activities or projects, determine if the impacts will be significant, and identify alternatives and mitigation meaures that will reduce or eliminate such impacts. Historical resources are considered part of the environment, and a project that may adversely affect the significance of a historical resource is a project that may have a significant effect on the environment. Resources listed in or eligible for listing in the California Register must be given consideration in the CEQA process. Visit our CEQA and When Does CEQA Apply webpages for addtional information regarding historic resources and CEQA.
Where would I find OHP Technical Assistance Bulletins?
Office of Historic Preservation Technical Bulletins are located on our Publications and Technical Bulletins page. Bulletins related to Registration programs can be found on the webpages for the National Register, California Historical Landmarks, and California Points of HIstorical Interest.
Where can I find workshop materials including PowerPoint presentations?
Current training and learning opportunities are listed on our Training and Workshops page. Materials and presentations from past trainings can be found on the Training and Workshops Archive and Webinar Archives webpages.
How do I make a Public Records Act Request?
Public Records Act (PRA) requests may be made orally or in writing. The OHP recommends that all PRA requests for records be in writing so that we can more accurately identify the records sought and process the request more quickly. When making your request, be sure to state: 1) Whether you are requesting to inspect records, or obtain copies of public records under the PRA; 2) A clear and specific description of the information you are requesting (if possible, identify dates, subjects, titles, and authors of the records you are requesting); 3) Contact information so we can clarify information if needed and send you a response and/or copies of records. For more information, please review the California Department of Parks and Recreation Public Records Access Guidelines. To acquire information about a specific property, contact the appropriate Information Center of the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS).