What is the value of historic preservation?

It is generally acknowledged that historic preservation increases the aesthetic and quality-of-life benefits to any community. We all enjoy visiting historic neighborhoods and sites on our travels. The preservation of Yakima’s historic properties and neighborhoods will greatly enhance our community. The City of Yakima established the Historic Preservation Program in early 2005 so that we can be proactive in our efforts to revitalize downtown, assist property owners of potentially historic properties in their rehabilitation efforts, formally recognize those properties and neighborhoods that contribute to our cultural and architectural heritage, and take advantage of financial tax incentive programs such as Special Valuation.

What is the purpose of Yakima’s Historic Preservation Ordinance?

The purpose of the Yakima Historic Preservation Ordinance (Ord. No. 2005-02, Chapter 11.62 of the Municipal Code) is to provide for the identification, evaluation, designation, and protection of designated historic and prehistoric resources within the boundaries of the City of Yakima and preserve and rehabilitate eligible historic properties for future generations. Among the goals of the Historic Preservation Program are to:

  • Safeguard the heritage of Yakima as represented by those buildings, districts, objects, sites and structures which reflect significant elements of Yakima history;
  • Foster civic and neighborhood pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past, and a sense of identity based on Yakima history;
  • Stabilize or improve the aesthetic and economic vitality and values of historic properties;
  • Encourage capital investment in the rehabilitation of real property and assist in strategic economic development through the creation of jobs, construction spending and physical improvement within Yakima;
  • Assist, encourage and provide incentives to private owners for preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, redevelopment, and use of historic buildings, districts, objects, sites and structures.

What is the Yakima Historic Preservation Commission?

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) consists of seven members who are residents of the city of Yakima and are appointed by the Mayor with the approval of City Council. All members of the Commission must have a demonstrated interest and competence in historic preservation, history, urban planning, or architecture and possess qualities of impartiality and broad judgment.

What is the Yakima Register of Historic Places?

The Yakima Register is our local government’s official list of properties that have contributed to the community’s history. Any building, structure, site, object, or district may be designated for inclusion in the Yakima Register if it is significantly associated with the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or cultural heritage of the community; if it has integrity; is at least forty years old, or is of lesser age and has exceptional importance; and if it falls in at least one of the following categories:

  1. Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of national, state, or local history.
  2. Embodies the distinctive architectural characteristics of a type, period, style, or method of design or construction, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
  3. Is an outstanding work of a designer, builder, or architect who has made a substantial contribution to the art.
  4. Exemplifies or reflects special elements of Yakima’s cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering, or architectural history.
  5. Is associated with the lives of persons significant in national, state, or local history.
  6. Has yielded or may be likely to yield important archaeological information related to history or prehistory.
  7. Is a building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the only surviving structure significantly associated with an historic person or event.
  8. Is a birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance and is the only surviving structure or site associated with that person.
  9. Is a cemetery which derives its primary significance from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events, or cultural patterns.
  10. Is a creative and unique example of folk or vernacular architecture and design created by persons not formally trained in the architectural or design professions, and which does not fit into formal architectural or historical categories.

How can I nominate a property to the Yakima Register of Historic Places?

Anyone can nominate a building, structure, site, object, or district by submitting a completed nomination form to the Historic Preservation Program. The designation process consists of nomination, designation, and adoption of a resolution by the Yakima City Council.

What kinds of changes can be made to a property listed on the Yakima Register of Historic Places?

Protection of designated historic properties is provided by review and approval of modifications to the exteriors and, where designated, the interiors of buildings. There are design review standards and a process for applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness to make changes. Consult the Historic Preservation Program for more information or if you plan to make a change to your designated property.

How is the City’s Historic Preservation Program administered?

The Historic Preservation Program, part of the Department of Community and Economic Development, oversees historic preservation. Its primary objectives are to encourage the rehabilitation and reuse of historic properties for public and private use; to promote the recognition, protection and enhancement of Yakima Register properties of historic, architectural and cultural significance in Yakima; and to identify, protect, preserve and perpetuate the cultural, economic, historical and architectural qualities of historic properties and districts throughout the City.


Please contact the Planning Division at (509) 575-6183 or email to: ask.planning@yakimawa.gov.