Historic Preservation

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Grand Avenue

South San Francisco Historic Preservation

About the Historic Preservation Program

The Historic Preservation Program began in 1986 with the adoption of the Historic Preservation Ordinance. City Council appointed a five-member Historic Preservation Commission to carry out the task of identifying South San Francisco's most important historic sites and structures, and protecting them from needless neglect, exterior alteration that might destroy their historic and architectural value, or demolition.

Historic Resource Designation

The goals are accomplished by designating landmarks as Historic Resources. Specific criteria have been established to define how a property qualifies for nominations as a historic resource. The criteria relate to the property's significance to the heritage of the City, the involvement of important people who may have designed, built, resided in, or worked in the structure, its exemplification of a special architectural style, or its careful attention to detail and craftsmanship. Its relationship to other historic buildings or to a historic district is also considered. If nominated, a public hearing is scheduled and the Historic Preservation Commission reviews the background of the structure or site and determines whether or not to designate it as a historic resource.

Special Status and Recognition

Historic resources have a special status and recognition in the community. Resource owners can be proud that their property is identified and honored for embodying local historical significance. Such structures are important representatives of the past and present spirit of South San Francisco. Once designated, even if the property changes hands, it is afforded permanent protection from misguided alteration or demolition.

South San Francisco Municipal Code (SSFMC)

Historic resources are subject to the State Historic Building Code, which has been written with more flexibility than South San Francisco's local building code. This may facilitate the retention of historical features and reduce expenses for a renovation. Before the owner of a historic resource (or a property on the list of potential historic resources) can alter the exterior of a building or tear it down, the Historic Preservation Commission must issue a Certificate of Alteration. No building permit for a historic resource or a potential historic resource will be issued without a Certificate of Alteration. A Planning Application for a Certificate of Alteration shall be filed with the Planning Division and will be subject to review by the Planning Commission; for further information regarding the Certificate of Alteration, please visit Chapter 2.56 of the South San Francisco Municipal Code. Please note administrative fees are charged to consider such applications.

Historic Resource Designation

Fill out the Application for Historic Resource Designation.

Designation Criteria; 
In considering a proposal for designation as an historic resource, the commission shall apply any or all of the following criteria:

  • Its character, interest, or value as a significant part of the heritage of the City, the state, or the nation
  • Its location as a site of a significant historic event
  • Its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the culture and development of the City, the state, or the nation
  • Its exemplification of a particular architectural style or way of life
  • Its exemplification of the best remaining example of a particular architectural type in the City
  • Its identification as the creation, design, or work of a person or persons whose efforts have significantly influenced the heritage of the City, the State, or the nation
  • Its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to artistic, architectural, and/or engineering design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship
  • Its relationship to any other historic resource if its preservation is essential to the integrity of the other historic resource (for example, it is a clearly identified element of a larger cohesive neighborhood or area whose integrity and character should be protected, such as the civic center, downtown, or a specific residential neighborhood)
  • Its unique location or singular physical characteristics representing an established and familiar visual feature of the City
  • Its potential of yielding significant information of archaeological interest
  • Its integrity as a natural environment that strongly contributes to the well being of the people of the City, the State, or the nation (for example, an area retained in or developed in a natural setting, such as portions of Sign Hill, or some other feature that contributes to the quality of life in South San Francisco)

Marker Program Information

The Historic Preservation Commission created the Historic Marker Program in an effort to identify historically or culturally significant sites throughout South San Francisco. While none of these sites have been designated as Historic Resources, each has been identified for its historic or cultural significance. There are currently 50 such sites, each having a marker that describes it's significance as part of the history of this City.


Marker Sites
The following is a listing and description of all marker sites in South San Francisco.


Historic Walking Tours of South San Francisco

About the Tour Areas
The entire area to tour covers approximately 4.5 square miles and can be walked or driven. East of Highway 101 is an area where industrial companies once flourished. The Grand Avenue and Linden Avenue area includes the old downtown and hotels where early settlers boarded. The greater downtown area includes prominent homes, farms, schools, and other significant locations.

Walking Tour #1
Walk through sites 1-11 and find out a little bit about each of these historical and architectural buildings. The tour is approximately 1.25 miles in length and takes about 45 Minutes to walk. We ask that you not disturb the occupants of private homes. To receive a copy of the Walking Tour #1 Brochure.

Walking #2
Walk through another 11 and find out a little bit about each of these historical and architectural buildings. The tour is approximately 1.25 miles in length and takes about 45 Minutes to walk. We ask that you not disturb the occupants of private homes. To receive a copy of the Walking Tour #2 Brochure.

City Flower on Markers
The City flower, the wild iris, decorates each of the custom-made, multicolored markers. Once growing wild on Sign Hill, the iris has become a symbol for the community and a reminder of its past.


Committee for Green Foothills

San Mateo County has a committee that works on protecting rural coastal lands south of Half Moon Bay.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation strives to save America's historic places and communities.

California Preservation Foundation

Visit the California Preservation Foundation for information on historical locations and workshops throughout California.

Office of Historic Preservation

The OHP is the governmental agency responsible for the administration of the historic preservation program in California.

Additional Information

For additional information on historic resources, you may request access to an individual resource's file, kept at the Planning Department, 315 Maple Avenue.  They can be reached at (650) 877-8535. The History Room at the Grand Avenue Library, 440 Grand Avenue, also has historical materials.