Historic preservation and cultural heritage
Goals and policies
We will continue to make decisions that protect and preserve our historic and cultural resources for future generations. Preserving and reinvesting in our historic sites, objects, structures and landscapes will continue to strengthen our communities and neighborhoods, improve our economy, grow local tourism and conserve our natural resources. Even more importantly, they inform and educate our youth about the important events and places that shaped the San Antonio of today. The goals and policies will continue incorporating innovative programs and opportunities to preserve our historic assets and cultural heritage, showcasing these important resources to the world, and allowing our community to easily reinvest and protect our historic buildings, objects, sites, traditions and customs.
The seven Historic Preservation and Cultural Heritage goals address the key issues identified above and provide the framework for the policies and actions the City will take as a result of the SA Tomorrow process. The policies are not associated with specific goals, but are grouped by common themes.
Historic Preservation and Cultural Heritage Goals
- HPCH Goal 1
San Antonio’s zoning and design review processes and procedures promote clear and effective historic and cultural preservation decisions.
- HPCH Goal 2
Historic preservation policies, initiatives and incentives are regularly reviewed to enhance performance and effectiveness and are incorporated into elements of all City plans.
- HPCH Goal 3
San Antonio is a national leader in recognizing and protecting the tangible and intangible attributes of its diverse cultural heritage.
- HPCH Goal 4
Historic and cultural preservation is effectively used as a tool for economic development in San Antonio.
- HPCH Goal 5
Innovative technology and robust education and outreach programs actively engage the public in the appreciation and preservation of historic and cultural assets.
- HPCH Goal 6
San Antonio strategically incentivizes reinvestment in and reuse of landmark buildings and districts to protect those historic resources in accordance with established zoning and design guidelines.
- HPCH Goal 7
The City uses innovative tools and approaches to protect the World Heritage designated San Antonio Missions.
- HPCH Goal 8
San Antonio should develop design guidelines for each historic district that reinforces their unique character.
Historic Preservation and Cultural Heritage Policies
HPCH P1: Maintain and update as needed the Strategic Historic Preservation Plan (2009) which consolidates the City’s official vision and policies for historic preservation.
HPCH P2: Continue to incorporate historic preservation elements in all citywide, district and neighborhood planning initiatives.
HPCH P3: Continue to promote preservation as a tool for cultural, economic and environmental sustainability.
HPCH P4: Work with community groups and organizations to identify and promote key historic areas of the city and create policies which protect their integrity.
HPCH P5: Continue to review the Unified Development Code (UDC) to improve the effectiveness of codes related to historic preservation as well as the Code’s overall readability.
HPCH P6: Continue to use the Historic Design Guidelines (2012) to facilitate OHP and HDRC reviews of public and private development initiatives. Work with historic districts to develop district-specific guidelines.
HPCH P7: Provide regular training for the City's planning and development related boards and commissions, staff and the public to increase awareness of regulations and design, planning and zoning guidelines and best practices.
HPCH P8: Work with Development Services Department and historic neighborhoods to ensure that underlying zoning supports the desired character of the district.
HPCH P9: Protect well-established neighborhoods by strengthening Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCD) to address the appropriateness of new and infill construction through enforceable design standards that allow neighborhoods to define unique character and features and promote compatible infill development.
HPCH P10: Enhance the effectiveness of existing historic preservation incentives and create additional city-wide programs that encourage reinvestment in historic resources, such as programs that support the neighborhood single-family housing stock.
HPCH P11: Target incentives that stimulate reinvestment in neighborhoods and encourage preservation, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of existing community assets.
HPCH P12: Streamline and expand promotion of preservation programs and incentives to property owners, builders, developers and investors.
HPCH P13: Identify and remove disincentives and obstacles to preserving and reusing historic resources.
HPCH P14: Expand incentives and programs to encourage the rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of historic structures while preventing unwarranted demolition, including programs for low-income property owners who may not otherwise be able to preserve their historic structure.
HPCH P15: Promote historic preservation as a strategy for maintaining diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.
HPCH P16: Continue to promote and expand the findings of the Economic Impact of Historic Preservation (2015) study.
HPCH P17: Promote the use of available incentives for rehabilitation such as the Historic Tax Credits or funds for the rehabilitation of endangered sites.
HPCH P18: Create new preservation initiatives that facilitate rehabilitation and reuse of historic resources including owner occupied single-family housing stock, revitalization of neighborhoods and commercial districts, and creation of new jobs and small businesses.
HPCH P19: Continue to employ a comprehensive outreach effort to increase awareness of the tremendous value of San Antonio’s architectural, cultural, and archaeological resources, and the inherent benefits of historic preservation.
HPCH P20: Harness public and private resources to market the numerous incentives and programs available to property owners, builders, and developers.
HPCH P21: Develop innovative ways to engage and educate students and young people.
HPCH P22: Utilize an “early warning” system to encourage advocacy and communication within the community to better protect endangered sites, buildings, landscapes and view sheds.
HPCH P23: Utilize technology to capture new audiences and expand the overall reach of historic preservation programs and efforts.
HPCH P24: Proactively work with property owners and community groups, especially those in historically underserved areas, to designate new historic landmarks and districts that are valuable to the city.
HPCH P25: Define and communicate a broader definition of cultural heritage to the community that includes tangible and intangible resource of architectural, historic and cultural significance.
HPCH P26: Develop a formal process to recognize properties/assets of cultural significance.
HPCH P27: Establish methods for the identification, recognition and awareness of intangible cultural and social heritage.
HPCH P28: Utilize technology to expand survey areas and make survey information more accessible to the public to promote a greater understanding of significant historic and cultural resources, such as the development of a cultural map.
HPCH P29: Continue to facilitate public discourse and education relating to cultural heritage.
HPCH P30: Continue public engagement activities to identify and document the attributes which create the Outstanding Universal Values identified in the UNESCO inscription.
HPCH P31: Enforce and evaluate the Mission Protection Overlay Districts; explore the effectiveness of additional design review tools or changes to underlying zoning.
HPCH P32: Utilize tools which evaluate potential impacts to the Outstanding Universal Values (as defined by UNESCO) within the designated Missions of San Antonio area and the buffer zone.
HPCH P33: Partner with stakeholders to promote heritage tourism.
HPCH P34: Develop strategies and incentives which protect and enhance the authenticity of the designated area.