National City is characterized by a rich historical past spanning over a 100 years. The contribution of early visionary leaders of National City is embodied in the historical buildings and landscape dotted throughout the City. The historic buildings are evidence of the past contributing to the cultural fabric of National City today. Such historical resources provide continuity with our past and enhance our quality of life.
In order to recognize those properties that have historical significance, a historic sites list has been developed over time. The Council has the option of placing additional properties on the List of Historical Sites (PDF) in National City – refer to Chapter 18.12.160 of the Land Use Code. A property owner may request a Mills Act Contract (See below) to reduce property taxes in exchange for ongoing maintenance and improvements of a property on the historic sites list.
Property owners who own historic structures should consult the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of historic structures prior to conducting any renovations. The guidelines provide recommendations for maintenance and rehabilitation of historic structures. The guidelines are available through the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service.
Chapters 18.12.160 (C) and 15.34 of the City’s Municipal Code govern the relocation or demolition of any historic structure listed on the national, state of local historical register or office inventories.
On May 7, 2002, the City Council authorized a Mills Act program, allowing the City to enter into contracts with owners of historic properties. These contracts allow property tax reductions for owners who agree to restore and preserve their historic structures. The tax reduction is calculated by the County Assessor, and is generally in the range of 15 to 60%. Any historic structure on the City's adopted "List of Identified Historic Sites in National City" is eligible for a Mills Act contract. Applications can be obtained from the Planning Department at 1243 National City Boulevard.
Other opportunities exist to recognize those structures that clearly embellish the historic attributes of the early development of National City. California Historical Landmarks (CHLs) are buildings, structures, sites, or places that have been determined to have statewide historical significance by meeting at least one of the criteria listed below.
- That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
- That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
- That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
- That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
The resource also must be approved for designation by the Council, be recommended by the State Historical Resources Commission, and be officially designated by the Director of California State Parks. CHLs are automatically listed in the California Register of Historical Resources.
The mission of the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC), in partnership with the people of California and governmental agencies, is to preserve and enhance California's irreplaceable historic heritage as a matter of public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, recreational, aesthetic, economic, social, and environmental benefits will be maintained and enriched for present and future generations. Additional information may be obtained through the OHP website at ohp.parks.ca.gov.
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The process for requesting nomination to the National Register may be obtained from www.nps.gov.
There are several properties within National City that are listed on the National Register. These include:
- Brick Row located at 909-940 A Avenue, 45 E. Plaza
- St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church located at 521 E. 8th Street
- Granger Music Hall located at 1615 E. 4th Street
- Santa Fe Depot located at 900 W. 23rd Street.
The National Register's standards for evaluating the significance of properties were developed to recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have made a significant contribution to our country's history and heritage. The criteria are designed to guide State and local governments, Federal agencies, and others in evaluating potential entries in the National Register.