You may have come to this site because you are considering a project and need to know more about the historic review process. This page is intended for you.
Before you begin the historic review process, you may want to discuss your desires with a member of your neighborhood advisory board (HZAB). If so, please click here to provide your contact information to and you will be contacted. All HZAB members are unpaid volunteers so there may be a small delay in the response. A productive discussion early in your planning can save time, money and frustration. (Updated 03/24/2018)
When you are ready to begin the historic review process, call Michael Taku (520-837-4963) to make an appointment to discuss and possibly begin your official review. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Before you see Michael, you may want to read the information below so that you will ask the right questions and better understand the answers. (Updated 03/24/2018)
Any exterior alteration of a structure in an HZAB will require a historic review. The board’s decisions and advice are based on federal, state and city standards with the last being the most important. Since Tucson’s historic standards are part of its zoning code, they are enforceable law supplemented by technical standards and guidelines. As the first level of the review process, the board will decide on a recommendation for your project. The board may recommend approval, approval with conditions or disapproval. The next level is at the City/County Historic Commission which will consider your desires and the recommendation of the HZAB, and then make a recommendation to the PDSD director who makes a decision. During a 14 day appeal window, the director’s decision can be appealed to the Mayor & Council.
There are three kinds of historic reviews.
Courtesy Review – Also called an informal review, this is an opportunity to discuss your project with the advisory board before you have spent a lot of money and effort. You can get a better feel for how your project can achieve your objectives while complying with historic standards. This review can be accomplished before starting the official review process or paying a fee. You can have multiple reviews until you are ready to move on to one of the following.
Minor Review – These are the criteria for a minor review:
- Minor or necessary repairs to a structure
- Emergency repairs provided that repairs involve replacement with materials of identical or historically accurate design, size, and color to those being replaced
- The change in copy of a sign
- Any alteration that does not require a permit involving the modification, addition, or moving of any part of an existing structure that would affect the exterior appearance. Alteration include, but are not limited to, fences and walls, except those alterations that PDSD Director determines shall be approved under the full review process due to the cumulative effect of phased work that would normally be subject to the applicability of the HPZ review
- Installation of solar panels or cisterns or installation of or repairs to a roof.
To see the flow of this review process, click on this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tv7e7oVzImsBDulc8rB7BmkpJxrwh5kU (Updated 02/21/2018)
The maximum time allowed for this review is 45 working days or approximately nine weeks.
Major Review – If your project does not meet one or more of the above criteria or falls into any of the following criteria, you will need a major review.
- Grading or erection or construction of new structure
- Permit for any alteration involving the modification, addition, or moving of any part of an existing structure, including signs, that would affect the exterior appearance, except those covered under Minor Review.
- Minor changes part of a phased project that would normally require full review.
- Construction or enlargement of a parking lot
To see the flow of this review process, click on this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=15U-rE9MKbj1zQkkYgFQUvO2cbl9v_rG8 (Updated 02/21/2018)
The maximum time allowed for this review is 90 working days or approximately 18 weeks.
Most reviews take less than the allowed time. The better prepared you are and the better your proposal complies with historic standard, the faster the review can be completed.
Each HPZ has some specific standards or guidelines. You can view them here.
Tucson has general standards which are applicable to all HPZs:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AtKvpLyNKvK6HcQbuDQ7IOGFILV2zQURq38Dmpu6p9c/edit?usp=sharing (Updated 02/21/2018)
This link can connect you to other sources for historic standards and outlines the federal standards underlying historic preservation programs:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QUDOmbI1Ybbns1p0N46Lp7x6-4oQwsxx (Updated 02/21/2018)
Boards are responsible only for applying historic standards to proposed projects but many board members are very experienced with other aspects of the permitting process and may offers suggestions. If a building permit is required for your project, that is an entirely separate process which can begin after historic review is completed. PDSD staff who work in historic review and building permits staff are not expert in the other’s process. They will try to be helpful but be sure to ask your questions in the proper area. You can ask questions of staff at any time during or before the process. Here is some PDSD contact information:
Public Works Building – 201 North Stone Avenue
Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Contact Us & Hours of Service
(Page updated 04/17/2018)