Citywide Cultural Resources Survey
The San Francisco Citywide Cultural Resources Survey (SF Survey) is underway! SF Survey aims to identify places and resources of cultural, historical, and architectural importance to San Francisco's diverse communities. Cultural resources may also qualify for historic preservation incentives.
The San Francisco Citywide Cultural Resources Survey (SF Survey) is a multi-year effort supported by the San Francisco Planning Department to identify and document places and resources of cultural, historical, and architectural importance to San Francisco’s diverse communities. These places and resources include tangible aspects of our environment, such as buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts, as well as intangible aspects, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, festivals, and traditional crafts. SF Survey is taking steps to center preservation in racial and social equity, better reflecting the dynamic cultural resources that make San Francisco unique. The findings of SF Survey will help guide the Planning Department’s work on future landmark designations, heritage-based initiatives, environmental review, new development projects, area plans, and building permit applications.
San Francisco is a culturally layered and dynamic place. The transmission of knowledge across generations brings continuity to the way of life and culture of communities. A deeper understanding of our histories and the contributions of those who came before us enhances our collective sense of belonging and agency in our communities. By bringing people together through community programming and by acknowledging all forms of cultural heritage, SF Survey will help contribute to sustaining San Francisco’s diverse cultures.
SF Survey will assist in building a foundation for future cultural heritage strategies and provide community and neighborhood recognition through the Intangible Cultural Heritage Methodology.
SF Survey will also lead to a more comprehensive understanding and recognition of San Francisco's history as told through the built environment. Survey results will make determinations on the historic resource status for all those parcels which haven’t benefited from previous survey efforts.
This includes turning properties with a Planning Department Historic Resource Status of Category “B - Unknown / Age Eligible” as indicated in the San Francisco Property Information Map (PIM) to either:
- “A - Historic Resource Present,” or
- “C - No Historic Resource Present”
Or, making the unknown known. This amounts to evaluating approximately 120,000 parcels. These determinations will help streamline California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, new development projects, area plans, and building permit applications.
The public will have access to survey results and shared knowledge through the online, living Cultural Resources Inventory. Cultural resources may also qualify for historic preservation protections and incentive programs, such as tax credits and Mills Act. SF Survey will help flag additional places for designating as future San Francisco Landmarks.
Find out more on the components of the survey.
|Citywide Historic Context Statement||2020 to 2025|
|Intangible Cultural Heritage Methodology (research approach)||2021 to 2025|
|Fieldwork, Research, and Evaluation||2022 to 2027|
|Findings and Adoption||2023 to 2027|
|Community Engagement||2022 to 2027 and beyond|
|Cultural Resources Inventory||2027 and beyond|
|SF Survey Overall||2020 to 2027 and beyond|
SF Survey is an intensive, historic context-based cultural resources survey that will result in the identification, documentation, and evaluation of the tangible and intangible aspects of San Francisco’s cultural heritage. This effort strives to evaluate in consultation with community members for properties with cultural associations.
SF Survey will be completed through five interrelated components that build off one another: Community Engagement; the Citywide Historic Context Statement; Fieldwork, Research, and Evaluation; Findings and Adoption at the Historic Preservation Commission; and the culminating Cultural Resources Inventory.
Many of the components of the survey will take place in tandem and will see us through the next several years as shown in the diagram.
SF Survey will heavily rely on dialogue with community members. In keeping with Planning’s previous cultural heritage based-work, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Methodology, capacity-building, and implementing a multi-media approach to outreach, critical consultation with the community will be key for developing inclusive findings. Through this level of engagement, Planning will ensure that aspects of the City’s history important to respective communities are shared according to the wishes of those communities.
The Community Engagement Strategy Framework aligns with the Historic Preservation Commission’s racial and social equity resolution,forging civic partnerships to include and engage communities typically underrepresented in historic preservation.
Citywide Historic Context Statement
The Citywide Historic Context Statement, framework established in 2020, forms the foundation for future fieldwork and decision making for SF Survey. It builds upon the department’s past historic context and survey efforts and incorporates recently completed and in-progress historic context statements. The Citywide Historic Context Statement aims to determine historic significance and rarity more accurately by examining sites thematically and on a citywide scale.
The Citywide Historic Context Statement is organized within three broad categories of Architectural, Cultural, and Thematic contexts. Each context statement will provide an evaluative framework that will establish significance, based on the California Register and National Register criteria. Each context’s evaluative framework will also provide an integrity analysis to guide future determinations, such as allowing for lower integrity if a property is associated with significant events (particularly cultures and/or cultural events) and/or persons.
As components are complete, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will review at public hearings. At each hearing, the HPC may elect to immediately adopt the findings with or without modifications, or they may take no action and direct the team to incorporate revisions or provide additional information. It is anticipated that the Citywide Historic Context Statement becomes final, telling the diverse story of San Francisco’s built environment, after all portions are completed (which means adopted by the HPC and forwarded to the Office of Historic Preservation). Learn more about completed and in-progress context statements.
Fieldwork, Research and Evaluation
Staff will gather and collect information, conduct research, and refer to the Citywide Historic Context Statement to determine historic resource status for all previously unevaluated, age-eligible properties across the city (45 years or older at the conclusion of the SF Survey). This includes approximately 120,000 parcels.
Survey efforts are three-fold: pre-survey, in-field, and in-office data collection. Individual buildings, objects, structures, and sites, along with cultural landscapes and districts will be evaluated and assigned a historic resource status. SF Survey will occur throughout the entire city, with a focus on areas not previously surveyed. Phasing is based on priorities for racial and social equity, existing and planned historic contexts, and staffing capacity. In areas of the city with previously adopted historic surveys and evaluations, staff has been auditing findings to ensure accuracy and conformance with current standards.
Findings and Adoption
Ultimately, all surveyed properties will be assigned a California Historical Resource Status Code, which determines eligibility for listing on National or California registers. The HPC will hold public hearings on adoption of components of the Citywide Historic Context Statement and on adoption of draft and final survey findings for individual properties in phases throughout the life of the survey. At each hearing, the HPC may elect to immediately adopt the findings with or without modifications, or they may take no action and direct the team to incorporate revisions or provide additional information.
Prior to those hearings, the SF Survey team will conduct outreach and discuss parts of the context statement and/or draft findings of historic resource status with the community. Once the HPC adopts all portions of the Citywide Historic Context Statement, draft survey findings will become final, and the findings will be forwarded to the California State Office of Historic Preservation and formalized.
Cultural Resources Inventory
All of SF Survey’s components require consistent and streamlined management of information. To accomplish this, a customized web-based cultural resources management platform has been developed using Arches, a cultural heritage-focused data management platform. This robust tool will ultimately be used to not only collect and maintain the data both internally (staff) and externally (community engagement), but also to provide a public website for sharing the results of SF Survey and information gathered. The inventory will house Draft and Final Findings, and supporting information, such as historic research, community-submitted details, photographs, and will interface with existing systems like the San Francisco Property Information Map. The platform will serve as San Francisco’s living Cultural Resources Inventory, the culmination of the SF Survey project. It is intended to allow for future additions and changes to the City’s cultural resources over time.
Share Your Story
Everyone has a role in sharing and sustaining culture. If you see us in identifying SF Survey gear, feel welcome to come out, meet us, and share any photos or memories that you feel are important to the story of your community, neighborhood, or San Francisco. Staff will be collecting information on survey devices, or you can share by contacting staff.
Subscribe to receive SF Survey updates, Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Hearing presentations, and learn about programmed SF Survey community events.
|September 21, 2022||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission and 2022 SF Survey Progress Report|
|June 23, 2022||Planning Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission
|May 4, 2022||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||Citywide Historic Context Statement||Executive Summary to the Commission
Architecture, Planning, & Preservation Professionals: A Collection of Biographies Supporting Documents
|April 20, 2022||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||Community Engagement||Memo to the Commission
|March 16, 2022||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission
|November 17, 2021||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission
|November 17, 2021||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||Citywide Historic Context Statement||Memo to the Commission
Earthquake Shacks Theme Presentation
|April 7, 2021||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||Citywide Historic Context Statement||Memo to the Commission
Residence Parks Supporting Presentation
|April 7, 2021||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission
|November 18, 2020||Historic Preservation Commission Hearing||General SF Survey Update||Memo to the Commission
|February 1, 2022||All||Community Engagement||Survey Launch Postcard|
|April 1, 2022||All||Community Engagement||Draft Community Engagement Framework|
Get in touch by emailing CPC.Survey@sfgov.org or leaving a voicemail at (628) 652-7573.
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