Each of the over 200 designated City Landmarks in San José represents a physical connection with significant persons, activities, or events from our past. In addition to serving as visible reminders of our historical and cultural heritage, City Landmarks contribute to San José's unique character and sense of place. This uniqueness strengthens the local economy by preserving property values, attracting tourists, and encouraging investment.
Any historic property may be nominated for designation as a City Landmark by either the City Council or the Historic Landmarks Commission. A property owner may also apply for nomination, and consideration by the Historic Landmarks Commission. To apply to the Planning Division, the following information is needed:
- Assessor's Parcel number (APN)
- State historic inventory form
- Historic landmark nomination form
- Photographs of the historic resource
- See Historic Preservation Ordinance for nomination process (Municipal Code 13.48.110)
After a historic property is nominated, the Director of Planning begins the process for City Landmark designation by setting a public hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission. The Commission considers the proposed City Landmark and forwards a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council then holds a public hearing to consider the proposed City Landmark.
A designated City Landmark must conform to the General Plan, and have special historical, architectural, cultural, aesthetic, or engineering value of a historic nature. In making a recommendation to the City Council on a proposed City Landmark, the Historic Landmarks Commission may consider many relevant factors such as:
- Site of a significant historical event
- Identification with people who significantly contributed to local culture or history
- Identification with a master builder or architect
- Example of a unique architectural or engineering design
- Representative of an aspect of City history such as agriculture, architecture, commerce, or industry during a specific era from 1777 to the present
The entire process typically takes about four months. The San José Municipal Code requires both the Historic Landmarks Commission and the City Council to hold public hearings on the proposed City Landmark within 120 days of formal initiation by the Director of Planning.