Learn how to apply for a permit to make exterior alterations to a City Landmark, Structure of Merit, or Historic District.
Some properties in the City of Berkeley are designated as City Landmarks, Structure of Merit and Historic Districts. These properties exhibit cultural significance due their design or connections to important historical events and/or persons, and shall be protected in accordance with established preservation practices. Prior to building permit consideration, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) must approve a Structural Alteration Permit for any proposal that would alter or demolish a designed property.
If the list of designated landmarks PDF is older than one month, the property you are researching is not listed, or you have reason to be concerned that the property may be a designated landmark, please check with the zoning staff or the Landmarks Preservation Commission Secretary to confirm the status of the property.
Work on Landmarks needs an Alteration Permit
Applications must be filed in person at the Permit Service Center, and must include all of the applicable requirements listed in the submittal requirements. Minimum requirements include (but are not limited to):
- Application fees
- Application form with owner's signature
- Color photographs
- Written description of project including a statement of how the project adheres to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards
- Site plan, floor plans, and elevations
- Colors and Material Board
Depending on their level of complexity, Structural Alteration Permit applications are typically processed in 3 to 12 months when they are submitted with complete information and do not require major revisions or mediation.
Landmark alteration permits require public hearings
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) holds public hearings on applications for Structural Alteration Permits. The public hearing notice is posted at least 10 days before the hearing and is mailed to all property owners and residents within 300 feet of the project site. Neighbors are welcome to submit written comments to staff at any point during the process. Written comments provided by 5 p.m., eight days prior to the public hearing will be distributed to Commission members. Verbal testimony can be provided at the meeting.
If a Structural Alteration Permit proposal also requires a Use Permit (UP) or an Administrative Use Permit (AUP), then a separate UP or AUP application must be submitted. Staff will coordinate review to ensure that necessary information is available for all decision-makers.
Following the LPC decision, staff will mail a Notice of Decision, which starts a 15-day appeal period. If appealed, City Council consideration would be scheduled within two or three months. The City Council has the following options:
- Affirm LPC action, or
- Remand to LPC for reconsideration, or
- Set for public hearing at City Council
The City Council will receive the entire record for the project. Additional written information may be submitted and will be provided to the Council; however, public testimony is not taken at the meeting when the City Council decides between these options.