We’ve been asked how a local Historic District is different than a Homeowner Association (HOA). They aren’t the same and a District won’t affect a property owner at all unless they decide to make changes to the exterior of their home. Here’s a summary of the differences.

What Do HOA Rules Cover?

Covenant guidelines cover a broad range of restrictions, including:

  • Home paint color
  • Type and height of fence
  • Basketball goals
  • Shingles
  • Treehouses and swing sets
  • Pets
  • Satellite dishes
  • Flags, emblems and mailboxes
  • Rentals and in-home businesses
  • Parking
  • Patios , pools, and landscaping
  • Number and size of buildings on property
  • Common areas
  • The ability to have chickens, goats or bees

How are HOAs Governed?

HOA’s are typically organized and set up by developers upon selling lots/houses in subdivisions. They are governed by an elected board that enforces covenants and collects fees, which pay for common expenses such as trash collection, street maintenance, landscaping and irrigation, etc. Their covenants are included as deed restrictions that affect every property. The HOA boards frequently review and approve such things as paint colors and landscaping plans if included in the covenants.

HOA’s are a means of residents sharing property in common as well as having rules over the use and look of their own personal property.

Failure to pay HOA fees can result in a lien against private property.

Homeowners are affected by HOA rules at all times and can receive a notice from the HOA whenever the board feels like a property owner is out of compliance with the rules.

What Do Historic District Rules Cover?

District standards only cover the exterior appearance of buildings including:

  • Home paint color
  • New construction or demolitions
  • Materials used
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Porches
  • Roofs


How Are Historic Districts Governed?

Historic districts do not have an ongoing governing organization nor do they collect fees. Only proposed changes on the exterior of landmarked or contributing buildings are reviewed for approval by either City employees or the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC), as appropriate. Any member of the historic district can apply to be on the Landmark Preservation Commission, but it is not required.

Small changes such as paint color are reviewed and signed off on by city staff, much like a building permit. More substantive changes such as additions are usually reviewed by the LPC, which is an appointed board of local residents (including architects and developers) knowledgeable in historic preservation.

In a historic district, residents do not own any property in common. The purpose of the historic district is to preserve the history and character of an area while still allowing for new development that remains in keeping with that historic character.

Property within a historic district may be eligible for State income tax credits and interest free loans from the City for maintenance and rehabilitation projects.

Homeowners are only affected by district standards when exterior changes are proposed to the property.