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The purpose of Certificates of Appropriateness (C of A’s) are to conserve and enhance historic buildings, sites and neighborhoods, and encourage compatible rehabilitation and new construction. Properties may be designated as Landmarks, Neighborhood Conservation Properties or otherwise be listed on the City’s adopted Historic Resources Inventory or “HRI”. Click on any of the links below for an overview of the application or review process, or for further definitions of property designations.

How to Apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness

When applying for a C of A, submit the following to the Planning Department:
1. Planning Application Form  - completed and signed by all property owners holding a title interest.
2. Fee/Initial Deposit – City Fee Schedule charges staff time and materials. The deposit for staff level review is $750 and $1,000 for review by the Cultural Heritage Commission, check payable to the City of Napa. There is a $100 flat fee for staff level review of HRI property “demolitions” with a Map Score of “3” (select “Historic Resources Inventory” at left for further explanation of Map Scores).
3. Written Description (part of Planning Application Form) – shall describe the historic rating of the property, its location, and how the proposal meets applicable Certificate of Appropriateness findings for approval. Applicants should refer to the City’s Design Guidelines for Historic Districts (originally entitled "Design Guidelines for the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park Historic District", April, 1998) for specific guidance.
4. Mailing Labels – For projects reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission, provide a 300+ foot radius mailing list and mailing labels for public hearing notice per 17.68.070.
5. Applicants shall use the Design Review submittal forms for site plan drawings and other materials (including “Additional Submittal Requirements in Certain Circumstances”) for Certificates of Appropriateness.

o Residential alterations/demolitions will typically use the Residential Administrative Design Review submittal checklist;
o Nonresidential alterations/demolitions will typically use the Nonresidential Administrative Design Review checklist; and
o Major new construction on historic properties will use the Major Design Review checklist.
Note that if the project is reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission, 15 copies of Site Plan Drawings and Building Elevations, rather than 2 copies, must be submitted.

Property Designations
Certificates of Appropriateness (C of A’s) are required by the City of Napa before rehabilitation, remodeling or demolition of the following property types:

Individual Landmark properties and properties located in a Landmark District are subject to the same policies and standards in the Historic Preservation Ordinance [link]. Hence review procedures are the same for both.

C of A is required for:
1. Any new construction
2. Any restoration, rehabilitation, alteration, addition or change in appearance to a Landmark or Contributing Resource in a Landmark District
3. Any alteration or addition to a Non-Contributing Resource in a Landmark District.
4. Changes to major interior architectural features of a publicly-owned Landmark
5. Demolition of a building or structure

FINDINGS (see NMC 15.52.050.C):
1. For Applications Pertaining to a Landmark:
• Proposed project preserves, enhances or restores, and shall not damage or destroy, the exterior architectural features of the Landmark (and for certain publicly-owned Landmarks, its major interior architectural features);
• Proposed project will not adversely affect the special character or special historic, architectural or aesthetic value of the Landmark and its site, as viewed both in themselves and in their setting, nor of the Landmark District in applicable cases.
2. For Applications Pertaining to a Contributing Resource in a Landmark District:
• Proposed project preserves, enhances or restores, and shall not damage or destroy, the exterior architectural features of the contributing resource, considering the degree of its compatibility with the character of the Landmark District, the feasibility of rehabilitation and other pertinent factors.
3. For Remodeling or Other Proposed Exterior Changes to a Non-Contributing Resource in a Landmark District:
• Such remodeling or exterior change is compatible with the character of the Landmark District as described in the designating resolution and shall not adversely affect the special character of historic, architectural or aesthetic interest or value of the Landmark District.
4. For New Construction:
• The new construction is compatible with the character of the Landmark district as described in the designating resolution and an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness for new construction must be approved if such compatibility exists.
5. General Findings for Landmarks and Landmark Districts:
• Site development and design issues are satisfied, when applicable:
a. Architectural Design—A building shall appear compatible in form and detail to the tradition of the district or surrounding buildings and structures. Buildings and structures shall be visually compatible with older, surrounding buildings and structures.
b. Mass and Scale—A building shall be compatible in mass and scale with the Landmark structure or contributing resource in a Landmark District.
c. Building Form—A building shall have basic roof and building forms that are similar to those seen traditionally in the Landmark District.
d. Construction Materials—Building materials shall contribute to the visual continuity of the Landmark District.
e. Building Orientation—The traditional pattern of building orientation shall be maintained.
f. Building Alignment—The distance from the street or property line to the front of the building shall be similar to that established historically in the Landmark District.
g. Parking—The visual impacts associated with parking shall be minimized, as shall the number of curb cuts seen along the street.
h. Landscaping—Landscaping shall be used to create continuity among buildings, especially in front yards and along the street edge. Landscaping shall be selected that is adapted to the Napa climate, and consideration shall also be given the future care and maintenance of these materials.
i. Signs—A sign shall be subordinate to the overall character of the area and be subordinate to the individual buildings to which they are related.
j. Street Furniture—Street furnishings, including bicycle racks, waste receptacles and light standards, shall not impede one’s ability to interpret the historic character of the area.
6. Any special guidelines prepared and adopted to assist in the above review, as well as the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation [link] shall also be considered. Check with staff for copy of these Standards.

LANDMARKS & LANDMARK DISTRICTS REVIEW AUTHORITY
Cultural Heritage Commission:
• Demolitions of buildings and structures
• Demolitions of garages; alterations to existing garages; new garages.
• Additions or major alterations visible from the street, including porches.
• Additions to the rear elevation that exceed the existing height of a house or exceeds 100 sq. ft.
• Alterations or changes to the roof shape and materials (except re-roofing and skylights)
• New construction
• Relocations of houses and other structures.
• Substantial exterior rehabilitation (including additions) which may involve the installation of new exterior cladding, infilling of open porches, or substantial changes to openings for windows and doors.
Planning staff:
• Rear additions that do not exceed the existing height of the roof ridge or do not exceed 100 sq. ft.
• Replacement of or minor* alterations to windows & doors; minor changes to openings for windows & doors
• Replacement of or minor* alterations to materials (siding & trim) on exterior walls, replacement chimneys & foundations
• Re-roofing using the same materials and pattern.
• Replacement of existing skylights or installation of new skylights.
• Front yard and side yard fences and walls (including retaining walls).
• Mechanical equipment in front of house or on roofs (such as solar collectors).
Restoration of historic features (including removal of asbestos, vinyl or aluminum siding).
• Signs
• Awnings
• Street furniture
• Paving and driveway expansion
• Tree cutting and landscaping
Refer to the City’s Design Guidelines for Historic Districts (originally entitled "Design Guidelines for the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park Historic District", April, 1998)

(formerly :HP or :HPR) and Neighborhood Conservation Area(s)
C of A is required for:
1. Any substantial construction visible from a public way. (e.g., new construction with a floor area of more than 100 square feet.)
2. Any substantial alteration or addition visible from a public way. (e.g., expansion or reduction of the exterior envelope of a building/structure of more than 100 square feet; or the addition, enclosure or removal of a porch; or other change as may be defined in any adopted design guidelines for a Neighborhood Conservation Area)
3. Demolition of a building or structure. (Demolition = complete destruction of a building or structure; the permanent or temporary removal of more than 30% of the perimeter walls; or removal of any portion of street-facing façade.)

FINDINGS (see NMC 15.52.050.D):
1. Mass and Scale—The traditional mass and scale of the area shall be maintained.
2. Building Form—A building shall have basic roof and building forms that are similar to those seen traditionally in a neighborhood.
3. Construction Materials—Building materials shall contribute to the visual continuity of the neighborhood.
4. Building Orientation—The traditional patterns of building orientation shall be maintained.
5. Building Alignment—The distance from the street or property line to the front of the building shall be similar to that seen traditionally in the neighborhood.
6. Project Context—The project shall be compatible with those neighborhood characteristics that result from common ways of building. This sense of setting shall be preserved.
*The Commission has suggested that the City Council also adopt a design guideline for these properties, including language that “The proposed alteration or addition will not destroy existing major character-defining features of the building.”

REVIEW AUTHORITY
Cultural Heritage Commission:
• Any substantial construction visible from a public way.
• Any substantial alteration or addition visible from a public way.
• Demolition of a building or structure.
Planning staff:
• Rear additions that do not exceed the existing height of the roof ridge or do not exceed 100 sq. ft.
• Replacement of or minor* alterations to windows & doors; minor changes to openings for windows & doors
• Replacement of or minor* alterations to materials (siding & trim) on exterior walls, replacement chimneys & foundations
• Re-roofing using the same materials and pattern.
• Replacement of existing skylights or installation of new skylights.
• Front yard and side yard fences and walls (including retaining walls).
• Mechanical equipment in front of house or on roofs (such as solar collectors).
• Restoration of historic features (including removal of asbestos, vinyl or aluminum siding).
• Signs
• Awnings
• Street furniture
• Paving and driveway expansion
• Tree cutting and landscaping
Refer to the City’s Design Guidelines for Historic Districts (originally entitled "Design Guidelines for the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park Historic District", April, 1998).

C of A required for:
1. Demolition.
(Demolition = the complete destruction of a building or structure, or the permanent or temporary removal of more than thirty percent (30%) of the perimeter walls, or removal of any portion of street-facing façade.)

FINDINGS shall be made regarding each of the following factors (see NMC 15.52.050.D):
1. The architectural significance of the building or structure;
2. The historic significance of the building or structure;
3. The structural integrity of the building or structure;
4. The location of the building or structure within or in close proximity to a Landmark or Landmark District;
5. The economic feasibility of rehabilitating the building or structure including the economic return on the property after rehabilitation has been completed; and
6. The applicant’s plans for the property if the Certificate of Appropriateness is approved.

REVIEW AUTHORITY
Cultural Heritage Commission:
• Demolitions of HRI properties assigned a “1” or “2” Map Score, plus those rated “3” located in a potential historic district. For more information on the designation of property levels, click here.

Planning Staff:
• Demolitions of Inventory properties assigned a “3” Map Score and not located in a potential historic district.
Notes:
Properties rated “3”, and part of a potential historic district, are checked by staff to see whether the property still has the visual integrity to meet the Secretary’s Standards and whether the surrounding area appears to qualify as a potential historic district. If so, the demolition is referred to the CHC. If not, staff documents property conditions and approves the demolition.
The number of staff-approved demolitions may average 3 per year.
Refer to the City’s Design Guidelines for Historic Districts (originally entitled "Design Guidelines for the Napa Abajo/Fuller Park Historic District", April, 1998).

Click here for a PDF version of the above Certificate of Appropriateness Submittal Requirements.

Review Process
Once all materials have been submitted to the Planning Department as outlined in the section How to Apply for a C of A, the review process is as follows:

  1. Planning Department will complete a staff level review and make a recommendation to the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) whether to approve or deny the C of A. This review typically requires at least two weeks.
  2. Upon completion of staff level review, the property owner(s) will be asked to appear before the CHC at one of their regularly scheduled meetings to make any additional clarifications regarding the request and be available for questions from the Commission and the public.
  3. Following presentations by staff and property owner(s), and any follow up questions or comment from the CHC and public, the CHC will officially close public comment, discuss any issues/concerns and formally vote to approve or deny the C of A.