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How to become an advocate for historic preservation

Being an advocate for our heritage does not require academic knowledge in local history and architecture. All it requires is caring about saving, protecting and preserving San Diego's culture and a willingness to donate time, effort, or financial help.

Joining SOHO is the first step to advocacy in San Diego county because the fact is that political leaders and policy makers notice numbers. Your participation as a member enables us to function with a powerful voice with policy makers, developers, and others who make decisions about the community's historic environment.

Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I'll understand.
- Chinese proverb

There are a few steps to take that will empower you.

Educate yourself
SOHO provides you the information you need to be informed through our website, Our Heritage magazine, programs and lectures, and preservation action alerts by email.

  • Research local laws, planning and development regulations, preservation ordinances, and other regulatory measures established in the city and state.

Knowing the law and the ways it protects (or doesn't protect) historic resources is one of the first steps to advocating effectively for the preservation of the built environment. The City of San Diego's Department of Planning and Development and Department of Neighborhoods post agendas for Historical Resources Board meetings and other agency activities that will help you to track reviews of individual projects. See and search for the relevant department.

Learn more about local history

  • Visit San Diego's many historic sites to educate yourself about the history of your community or the larger region. Observing and recording the history of your own home and neighborhood not only keeps a record for family, friends, and neighbors; it also makes you a more effective advocate for preservation.
  • Attend lectures on community history; it's fun and educational too.
  • Join a neighborhood group or community planning group and get to know the local leaders, organizers of neighborhood watchdog groups, and other community activists.

Most neighborhoods in San Diego support such organizations, which serve as an important liaison between the community and city officials. Knowing how these networks operate, and bringing preservation issues to the attention of these groups and individuals is a great way to get others involved in advocating for local and city-wide heritage resources, and can help protect the unique character of your neighborhood. Taking a leadership role in one of these groups is an even more effective way to enlist the help of city representatives in promoting your cause. One such is the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Coalition. To learn more go to

  • Join in hands-on preservation efforts such as the restoration of a historic house, church, or school for community, museum or other use. Adobe U is one such example of a hands on approach to getting involved. Hands-on experience gained in a group restoration project can be a valuable asset in sensitively renovating your own historic home too.

Make your voice heard
Use the knowledge you have gained about preservation issues, and the tools and techniques you've learned to effectively voice your support for preservation in your community. Become familiar with your local, state, and national representatives, and share your concerns with them on a regular basis. Using concise, accurate examples of the importance of historic sites and structures can bolster your case and is more persuasive than a simple request for attention or expression of concern. Keep your correspondence short and to the point.

Larger issues of economic development, housing, and transportation have very real effects on preservation in San Diego, and your vote for elected officials and ballot initiatives can make a difference. Learn more about local politics and the connection to preservation, and make your vote count.

Invest in our historic communities
Patronize locally owned establishments and companies that occupy and care for historic buildings, such as those in Old Town San Diego, North and South Park, Balboa Park, Julian, Ramona, Del Mar, etcetera.

Join your voice with those of the larger preservation community
Become a member or contribute to SOHO. SOHO is devoted to the preservation, protection, and use of our regions historic resources; your contribution of time, money, research materials, or other resources will bolster these efforts and extend the power of your advocacy to make a significant difference.

Thanks to Historic Seattle's Advocacy Program Christine Palmer and Kathleen Durham for their step-by-step advocacy guide from which we borrowed liberally.

2009 - Volume 40, Issue 1


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From the Editor

2009 People In Preservation Award Winners

Historic Preservation & Environmental Conservation

The Green Game

Making your historic home more energy efficient
Your home's landscape is green in more ways than one

San Diego Trust & Savings Bank Building

Black Gold in San Diego

2009 Most Endangered List of Historic Resources

Tragedy Unfolds

Preservation Community



The Whaley House Porch Returns

Museum News: Marston House

Borrego Springs Modern lll

Borrego's future lies in its past

Adobe University

An Enchanted Evening at PIP

Looking for historic homes, gardens or commercial sites

Help Us

Lost San Diego

Strength in Numbers


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