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Historic Resources Survey Program

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Historic Resources Survey Program Contacts:

Tim Frye
Survey Coordinator

Mary Brown

Jonathan Lammers

Susan Parks


Citywide Cultural and Historical Resource Survey

> Survey Frequently Asked Questions
> Current and Upcoming Surveys
> Recently completed surveys

> Non-Planning Dept. surveys
> Inventory of past surveys
> Historic Resources Consultant Pool


Only a small fraction of San Francisco's historic and cultural resources have been identified.

Preservation - Dogpatch

The foundation of a successful preservation program is an understanding of the location, distribution, and significance of historic and cultural resources, which include buildings, sites and/or landscapes. This understanding is achieved through the historic and cultural resource survey process, described in more detail in Preservation Bulletin No.11. In addition to identifying important individual historic or cultural resources and potential districts, a survey can help identify buildings that qualify for local or national preservation incentives or inform the development of neighborhood-specific guidelines that protect neighborhood character.

To facilitate these and other preservation efforts, the Planning Department has established the Comprehensive Citywide Cultural and Historical Resource Survey (Survey Program) to manage and conduct historic and cultural resource surveys. A typical Planning Department Area Plan survey includes the development of a Historic Context Statement, documentation and evaluation of buildings on DPR-523 forms, and identification of potential Historic Districts and individually significant properties. This level of documentation and evaluation helps inform the public, property owners, government officials, and those who do business in San Francisco, making environmental review more transparent.

For information on historic and cultural resource surveys, please see the Survey Program's Frequently Asked Questions, or the Survey Work Plan.

In addition, the Survey Program has recently embarked upon development of the San Francisco Citywide Historic & Cultural Context Statement (SF Context Statement). The SF Context Statement will facilitate and guide the completion of neighborhood and thematic surveys, as well as evaluations of individual properties, in all areas of San Francisco. It will provide a comprehensive framework for surveying, identifying and evaluating San Francisco's historic and cultural resources. For more information, see the SF Context Statement Work Plan.

Current and Upcoming Surveys

The Survey Program has focused its surveys on neighborhoods that are undergoing long-range Planning Department planning efforts (including Area Plans and Better Neighborhoods Plans). Additional surveys include the Inner Mission, the Transbay Terminal, and a survey of automotive support buildings. For a PDF map of all Planning Department survey areas, click here.

Market Octavia Plan

The Market and Octavia survey is part of the larger Market and Octavia Area Plan planning effort. Beginning in 2006, the Planning Department contracted with the consultant firm Page & Turnbull for a survey of 1,563 buildings within the Area Plan boundaries. The 80-block survey area encompasses portions of several neighborhoods including Hayes Valley, Mission, SoMa, Civic Center, Market Street, Duboce Triangle, Lower Haight, Eureka Valley/Castro, and the Western Addition. See the survey map.

The survey focused on buildings constructed in or before 1961 and not previously surveyed. The Historic Context Statement was prepared in conjunction with the survey and was reviewed and endorsed by the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board on December 19, 2007. All 1,563 buildings were documented on DPR 523A forms. Of those, 1,031 buildings were more fully researched and evaluated for historic designation. This research included individual evaluations for 155 buildings on DPR 523B forms, as well as 736 buildings evaluated as part of a group or district on DPR 523D forms. There are also 261 buildings with preexisting survey data, and 68 buildings previously surveyed and reassessed by Page & Turnbull.

In mid-August 2008, owners of all age-eligible properties were mailed a copy of their building's DPR-523A and DPR-523B form documentation. Survey findings were endorsed by the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board at a public hearing and are pending approval at the Planning Commission.

The upcoming survey augmentation phase will entail additional research, documentation, and evaluation.

Japantown ( map )

The Japantown Historic & Cultural Resource Survey is being conducted as part of the Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan, a long-range planning effort undertaken jointly by the Japantown community and the Planning Department. The survey has produced a draft Japantown Historic & Cultural Context Statement and has resulted in documentation of over 500 individual properties on DPR 523A forms. In addition, selected properties within the Japantown plan area received more intensive research, documentation, and preliminary evaluations on draft DPR 523B forms and on a draft DPR 523D form. Currently, the Japantown community and the Planning Department are reviewing the preliminary survey evaluations in order to understand how, through the Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan effort, the essential historic and cultural character of Japantown may be preserved while other community objectives are also met.

Balboa Park

The Balboa Park survey is part of the greater Balboa Park Station Area Plan effort. It is located at the convergence of several neighborhoods: Ingleside, Westwood Park, Sunnyside, Excelsior and the Outer Mission. The survey focused on buildings located along and off the spine of the Ocean Avenue corridor. See the survey area map. The history of Balboa Park's development is found in the draft Balboa Park Historic Context Statement. This survey documented 66 properties with DPR-523A forms, 15 properties with the more intensive DPR-523B forms, as well as DPR-523D (District) forms for the Ocean Avenue commercial corridor and for Balboa Park.

Results from this survey are expected to go before a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board in Fall 2008. In conjunction with the survey, a consultant-team is currently developing draft design guidelines for new construction and adaptive re-use of commercial and mixed-use properties along Ocean Avenue. These guidelines are expected to be completed in Fall 2008.

Inner Mission North ( map )

The Inner Mission North Survey is being conducted by Planning Department staff as one of several planning studies that will be used to inform the implementation of the Mission Area Plan. The Inner Mission North Survey includes documentation and assessment of more than 2,000 individual buildings and several historic districts that are located within the area that is bounded approximately by Duboce Avenue and Market Street to the north, 20th Street to the south, Folsom Street to the east, and Dolores Street to the west. The Inner Mission North is scheduled to be completed and presented to the Historic Preservation Commisson for adoption in May 2011.

Click here to go to the Inner Mission North Historic Resource Survey page.

South Mission ( map )

The South Mission Survey was conducted by Planning Department staff, with assistance from the historic architecture firm of Page & Turnbull, as one of several planning studies that will be used to inform the implementation of the Mission Area Plan. The South Mission Survey resulted in documentation and assessment of approximately 3,800 individual buildings, including nearly 1,000 individual historic properties and contributors to 13 historic districts. The South Mission Survey included the area that is bounded approximately by 20th Street to the north, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, Potrero Avenue to the east, and Guerrero Street to the west. The South Mission Survey was adopted by the Historic Preservation Commission on November 17, 2010.

Click here to go to the South Mission Historic Resource Survey page.

Showplace Square ( map )

The Showplace Square Survey is focused on the primarily industrial area of two adjacent planning efforts: the Northeast Mission portion of the Mission Area Plan and the Showplace Square / Lower Potrero Hill Area Plan. This area contains thematically connected industrial and warehouse buildings, which are proposed for rezoning under the Eastern Neighborhoods Area Plan as one of the following: Production, Distribution, Repair (PDR), Urban Mixed Use, Design and Showroom District, and Arts and Technology District. A reconnaissance survey produced 610 DPR 523A forms.

Survey and evaluation will determine whether the area contains one or more eligible historic district(s) and/or individually significant historic resources. To that end, several DPR 523B forms are being drafted for individual property evaluation, and at least two DPR 523D records are planned to document and evaluate potential historic districts. Determinations of eligibility for both districts and individual resources are based on National Register, California Register, and local significance criteria. A draft historic context statement is available for review. The expectation is that Showplace Square and the Northeast Mission comprise a single contextual unit with a shared development history and contain primarily similar office, commercial, and industrial building stock.

Click here to go to the Showplace Square/Northeast Mission Survey page.

South of Market Area ( map )

The South of Market survey area is roughly Market Street to Townsend Street, between 1st and 13th Streets, and contains approximately 1,650 properties constructed in or before 1962. The Department contracted a single survey for South of Market, which includes the separate planning areas of East and West SoMa. The area of East SoMa is generally made up of the same building stock and context as Western SoMa, per a study by the Western SoMa Citizen's Planning Task Force – and it is the same as many elements of the adjacent Mid-Market Redevelopment area. The results of the single survey will benefit all planning efforts. While much survey work has been done South of Market, none has yet to look at the area comprehensively. A historic context statement for SoMa has been completed and reviewed by the Landmarks Board. This context statement has identified a West SoMa Light Industrial & Residential District, which is currently undergoing further documentation, as are several other potential districts. Individual property documentation is in process for over 100 individual properties on DPR 523B forms. The consultant will revise the context statement if additional substantive information comes to light during the process of surveying the area.

Click here to go to the SoMa Historic Resource Survey page.

Automotive Support Structures

This survey is not associated with a specific neighborhood Area Plan; rather, it will document a unique and vulnerable property type – early automotive support structures. Set to begin in Fall 2008, this survey will focus on automotive support structures located along the multi-block Van Ness Avenue corridor, from Mission to Pacific Streets. These often low-rise buildings are located in an area facing increased development pressures. A goal of this survey is to identify, document, and evaluate buildings related to the early age of automobility. Approximately 125 buildings will be researched and documented.


Recently Completed Surveys

The Planning Department recently completed two large-scale Area Plan historic and cultural resource surveys:

Central Waterfront Survey ( map )

The Central Waterfront Area Plan boundary is from Mariposa Street south to Islais Creek and from the I-280 east to the Bay. The Planning Department and the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association surveyed the plan area in 2000 and 2001. The two surveys together generated DPR 523A and DPR 523B forms for all properties built before 1956 within the Central Waterfront Plan Area. A significant residential enclave has since been listed in Article 10 of the Planning Code as the Dogpatch Historic District. The Port of San Francisco has independently opted to seek consultant services to focus on Pier 70 Port-owned properties for more intensive historical analysis. The Department's 2001 survey was updated in 2007 and 2008 to include the completion of a historic district record for the industrial area outside of both Pier 70 and Dogpatch, and several updates to DPR 523B forms where the State Office of Historic Preservation retired certain status codes, leaving properties without a current evaluation.

Transbay Survey
( map )

Completed in 2008, the Transit Center District Survey (Transbay Survey) is part of the larger Transit Center District Plan. The survey focused on the section of South of Market bounded by Market, Main, Tehama, and New Montgomery Streets. At its center is the 1939 Transbay Terminal, a commuter bus station slated to be demolished and replaced with a new office tower and multi-modal transit center. Focused on an area with increasing development pressure, the Transbay Survey identified and documented historic resources, and helped inform decision-making on increased height districts. The surveyed buildings were documented with DPR-523A forms, and one potential California Register Historic District -- the New Montgomery, Mission and Second Street Historic District -- was identified.

To learn more about the history of this financial and manufacturing hub, see the Transit Center historic context statement. On August 20, 2008 the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board endorsed the Context Statement and survey findings.


Non-Planning Department Surveys and Historic Context Statements:

Several non-Planning Department surveys are currently planned or underway, including:

  • Hunter's Point Shipyard Context Statement and Survey / San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
  • North Beach Context Statement and Survey / Northeast San Francisco Conservancy
  • Russian Hill Context Statement and Survey / Northeast San Francisco Conservancy
  • Oceanside Context Statement and Survey / Sunset-Parkside Action Committee (SPEAK) and Sunset Architectural and Historical Resources Committee (SAHRIC)
  • Parkside Context Statement and Survey / Western Neighborhoods Project
  • Mission Dolores Neighborhood Survey (Vol. 1)/ Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association
    Mission Dolores Neighborhood Survey (Vol. 2)/ Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association
    A printed copy of the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Survey is available for public review at the Planning Department
  • Lower Russian Hill - Aquatic Park Survey / Aquatic Park Neighbors
  • Bernal Heights Survey / Bernal Heights Neighborhood Association


Past Surveys:

Survey's of San Francisco's architectural or cultural heritage have been conducted for over 40 years. Many of the following surveys can be found in the Planning Department's preservation library.

  • 1968 Junior League Here Today survey
  • 1976 Department of City Planning Architectural Survey
  • Hayes Valley
  • Beiderman Place
  • Buena Vista North
  • Central Freeway Area Plan survey
  • Central Waterfront
  • Chinatown
  • Dogpatch
  • Downtown Plan
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • Hayes Valley
  • Inner Mission
  • Inner Richmond
  • Jackson Square
  • Lower Nob Hill Apartment Hotel survey
  • Lyon Street Survey
  • Market Street Theater and Loft
  • Mission Theater
  • North Beach
  • South of Market Area Plan survey
  • Tenderloin
  • Unreinforced Masonry Building Survey
  • Van Ness Area Plan survey

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Last updated: 9/11/2014 3:43:03 PM