Historic Preservation Element (Public Hearing Draft, 5/1/13)
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General Plan > Elements > Historic Preservation Element > Cultural Resource Preservation
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Historic Preservation

Incorporated in 1928, the City of San Clemente was among the first master planned communities in the U.S. built from open grazing land. Before erecting a single structure on the rolling coastal hills, the City’s founder, Ole Hanson, laid out a detailed plan, based on his vision of a Spanish Village by the Sea. His plan was to create a town which followed the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style and which promoted the area’s natural gifts and recreational opportunities. It included restaurants, a clubhouse, residences, public parks, a public pool, a fishing pier, and even equestrian trails. This was truly a vision of a place which celebrated beauty, mild Mediterranean climate and its stunning coastal setting.

Over time, Hanson’s carefully planned “Village” grew and changed, often in a manner that contrasted sharply with Hanson’s Vision. By the 1980s, the City had already lost several Hanson-era buildings and citizens were beginning to recognize the value of its historic buildings. The City’s 1982 General Plan first recognized the importance of maintaining San Clemente’s historic image as the “Spanish Village by the Sea”, and the 1993 General Plan established the framework for a new historic preservation program.

San Clemente strengthened its commitment to the restoration and preservation of historical resources in 1996 when it became a Certified Local Government pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act. In 2006, San Clemente was federally recognized as a Preserve America City. The City’s Cultural Heritage Subcommittee of the Planning Commission advises citizens, City advisory bodies and the City Council on historic and cultural preservation matters. The City maintains a Designated Historic Resources List and a Landmark List that identify historic buildings, features, sites and districts worthy of preservation. The City offers incentives for historic preservation, such as special zoning standards for historic buildings and the Mills Act Program. Historic properties are protected through the review and issuance of Cultural Heritage Permits.

San Clemente citizens recognize the value of preserving their heritage through the Cultural Resource Preservation Element’s goals, policies and related implementation measures. While there is value in preservation for preservation’s sake, historic preservation benefits extend to the community’s economic and physical well-being. San Clemente’s historic and cultural resources are major components of the community’s quality of life and critical to the City’s ability to attract residents, businesses and visitors.


To preserve, rehabilitate, restore and adaptively reuse buildings, features, sites, and districts with archaeological, historical, architectural, or cultural significance to San Clemente.

  1. Use Historic Preservation as a tool to foster tourism and local economic development.
  2. Recognize Historic Preservation as a form of sustainable development by supporting adaptive reuse of historic buildings.
  3. Recognize historic and cultural resources as essential aspects of the City’s character and heritage.
  4. Provide incentives to encourage historic preservation.

  1. Heritage Promotion
  2. Historic Preservation Standards and Regulations
  3. Preservation Incentives
  4. Historic Preservation for Economic Development
  5. Historic Preservation Implementation Measures


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Historic Preservation Sections

Focus Areas

Implementation Projects

Miramar Theater & Bowling Alley

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