Historic Preservation Element or Plan | Los Angeles Conservancy
Belmont Heights, Long Beach. Photo (cropped) by Ken Lund on Flickr

A Historic Preservation Element or Plan is a document that outlines preservation-related goals to guide a community’s efforts in protecting its cultural resources. It describes the various components of an effective historic preservation program and serves as a useful roadmap for charting future progress.

For jurisdictions that are just establishing a historic preservation program, such a document can be invaluable as an educational tool for both planning staff and local residents.

A Historic Preservation Element is generally an optional component of a jurisdiction’s General Plan. As mandated by state law, every city and county is required to adopt a General Plan that serves to guide a jurisdiction’s future development.

Seven required elements address topics including land use and housing. Although one of these required elements is conservation, this element generally encompasses community character and the natural environment, not the built environment.

A Historic Preservation Element is intended to establish a long-range vision for the protection of historic resources in a jurisdiction. It sets forth a series of goals, objectives, and policies to accomplish that vision over time.

For jurisdictions that have adopted Historic Preservation Elements, it is often suggested that they integrate language about historic preservation into other General Plan elements, such as land use and housing, to ensure compatibility among elements.

A Historic Preservation Element is a strong indicator of a jurisdiction’s commitment to establishing or strengthening a historic preservation program. While a Historic Preservation Element is part of a General Plan, a Historic Preservation Plan is a similar yet independent document existing outside a jurisdiction’s General Plan.