Historic preservation and cultural heritage
Policies and procedures
Historic structures and landscapes are important, tangible reminders of the city’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. They provide a sense of our past and contribute in many ways to our quality of life. Yet, urban growth and new development pose threats to many of these heritage resources. The City has developed many programs and inducements aimed at protecting and preserving these resources such as the new historic district tax incentive and a tax incentive to reward substantial rehabilitation. Additionally, Federal and State programs provide property owners with financial incentives and offer cities preservation tools. We need to work with residents to guide them through these processes and ensure that all our residents have access to these tools.
The City has developed many programs and inducements aimed at protecting and preserving these resources such as the new historic district tax incentive and a tax incentive to reward substantial rehabilitation. Additionally, Federal and State programs provide property owners with financial incentives and offer cities preservation tools. We need to work with residents to guide them through these processes and ensure that all our residents have access to these tools.
The City can ensure that the development review and permitting process is clear and transparent, and easily processed by the public. We must strengthen outreach to clarify procedures and protocols and streamline the permitting process as much as possible. These processes and procedures, along with the formal policies and strategies, should be regularly evaluated to ensure they are meeting citywide goals and measurable targets.
San Antonio’s Preservation Program
Historic Survey and Designation
The designation of individual landmarks and historic districts is a zoning overlay that is an effective tool for preserving the character and aesthetic of important sites and neighborhoods. Designation of properties protects them from hasty demolition and promotes alterations and new construction that is compatible with the landmark or the district. The comprehensive survey and designation initiative known as ScoutSA works to proactively identify significant resources and designate those that the community wishes to protect.
New construction, additions, modifications, signage, and other site elements must follow our historic preservation design guidelines when the property is designated a historic site or the property is within one of our 27 historic districts. The guidelines give property and business owners direction for how to preserve and maintain the character and use of historic structures, while allowing for necessary upgrades required by current building and safety regulations. The intent of the guidelines is to provide additional clarity, consistency, and predictability to the design review process.
Education and Outreach
OHP established the Preservation Academy to host training, workshops, events, and other activities to promote the value and importance of preservation in the community and to provide citizens with tools and resources to maintain historic properties. Outreach initiatives include youth education programming and service-learning opportunities through Students Together Achieving Revitalization (S.T.A.R.). The Rehabber Club initiative also provides technical training and certification for contractors and other preservation trade practitioners in topics such as window restoration.
Additional Zoning Overlays
The River Improvement Overlay, Viewshed Protection districts, the Mission Protection Overlay District, aim to protect and enhance the overall character of the San Antonio River and safeguard San Antonio's heritage by preventing the despoliation of views of areas and buildings that reflect important elements of the city's cultural, natural, historic and economic fabric.
Since the city has seen human habitation since the last phase of the Pleistocene, over 11,200 years ago, there is definite potential for historic resources to exist both above and hidden below ground. We provide direction to developers in specific areas of the city where potential projects require Archaeological Surveys to identify and preserve cultural resources. If the site might contain significant cultural resources, we advise on the appropriate next steps and necessary actions required.