It's not uncommon for prospective buyers of homes in Old Towne Orange to make comments along the lines of:
- "Aren't there a lot of Historic Society rules that we would have to follow", or
- "Because these houses are all on the National Register, do we have to get permission from the Historic Preservation Society to make any changes to the house?"
What they are likely referring to is the Old Towne Preservation Association (aka OTPA) which is an oversight organization that exists to insure that construction and rehabilitation projects in Old Towne Orange conform to local, State, and Federal standards that are already in place. The misconception is that OTPA has enforcement capability or rules -- they do not.
OTPA works with the City of Orange Planning and Building Departments, and the Design Review Committee (DRC) to determine if local projects follow the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines (aka CEQA - pronounced "SEE-QUH"), The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings, and/or the Historic Preservation Design Standards for Old Towne Orange (which should incorporate the Secretary of the Interior's Standards). Click on any of the orange titles above to link to the respective document.
Note that in the list of guidelines/laws above (local, State, and Federal) there are no "Old Towne Preservation Association/OTPA Rules" -- it's because they don't exist! Also note that while there are specific buildings and houses within Old Towne Orange that are independently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the majority of pre-1940's homes/buildings in the district are simply referred to as "contributing structures" within the National Register Historic District (and are not on the National Register of Historic Places individually) -- a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. It is also important to understand that contributing structures and independently listed structures are both subject to the same review process outlined above.
- There are no OTPA "Rules"
- Local Guidelines - Historic Preservation Design Standards for Old Towne Orange / Orange Municipal Code
- State Guidelines - California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
- Federal Guidelines - Secretary of the Interior's Standards
Considering buying or making changes to the exterior of your historic home? Check with the City of Orange, call the OTPA Hotline 714.639.6840, or email info@OTPA.org before you begin your project!