Preservation Myths and Facts

Myth #1: “Historic designation will reduce my property values.”

Fact: Study after study across the nation has conclusively demonstrated that historic designation and the creation of historic districts actually increase property values. Why? Historic designation gives a neighborhood or an individual historic site a uniqueness that many buyers seek and a buyer the assurance that the very qualities that attracted them will endure over time.

Myth #2: “Preservation is only for the rich and elite.”

Fact: Today’s preservation movement is increasingly diverse. In Los Angeles, the two newest Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) are in Pico-Union and Lincoln Heights, home to economically and ethnically varied populations.

Myth #3: “Historic preservation is bad for business.”

Fact: Historic preservation is at the very heart of our nation's most vibrant economic development and business attraction programs. In Southern California, think Old Pasadena or San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Myth #4: Old buildings are less safe.

Fact: Although historic structures do sometimes require structural retrofits or the addition of fire sprinklers to enhance safety, historic buildings typically perform better than newer construction in earthquakes and other natural disasters. What determines the safety of buildings is the quality of construction, not age, and, in many ways, “they just don’t build‘em like they used to.”

Myth #5: Preservationists are always fighting new development and only care about the past.

Fact: Historic preservationists do care deeply about the past -- not to wallow in a bygone era, but to anchor ourselves as we move confidently into the future. Historic preservation is not about stopping change or blocking creative new architecture and development. Preservation allows us to retain the best of our shared heritage to preserve sites of unique quality and beauty, revitalize neighborhoods, spur economic development, and, quite simply, create better communities.

Excerpted from “The Top Ten Myths about Historic Preservation “by Ken Bernstein, director of Preservation Issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy.