About Us

Our Mission

The Santa Monica Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to promoting widespread understanding and appreciation of the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits of historic preservation.

How do we accomplish our goals?

  • We educate the community through tours, lectures, workshops, webinars and other programs;
  • We advocate for saving and landmarking historic buildings that connect us more closely to our community’s heritage;
  • We work closely with residents to preserve and protect historic homes and buildings;
  • We encourage the City to improve incentives and benefits for preservation, and simplify the regulatory processes for landmarking and adaptive reuse.

Our Origins

The Santa Monica Conservancy was founded in 2002 after a successful grassroots effort by residents who defeated a ballot measure that would have significantly impaired the City’s landmarks ordinance. Conservancy founders recognized the ongoing need for a community-based, non-governmental source of information and education about historic places and preservation.

Over the next 20 years, with the generous support of our members, donors and volunteers, we went on to:

  • Partner with local neighborhood organizations and advocate at Landmarks Commission and City Council meetings, tripling the number of Santa Monica’s landmarked properties and creating three new historic districts
  • Quadruple our membership and develop a talented cadre of committed volunteers
  • Enlighten more than 70,000 residents and tourists about Santa Monica’s history through our many walking tours and educational programs
  • Establish the Preservation Resource Center in the city’s last intact shotgun house
  • Commit to centering preservation of the heritage of our historically underrepresented communities and to valuing a diversity of voices throughout the whole organization
  • Hire our first paid Co-Executive Directors, Kaitlin Drisko and Allison Sampson, who will lead this organization into a new era of growth

We couldn’t have accomplished any of this without our membership community, and we are so grateful for your ongoing commitment and support.  As part of our celebration, we will be adding a Top 20 Achievements page to our site and we invite you to share your stories with us in the coming months. Watch for these Top Twenty Achievements and sharing opportunities in our bi-weekly e-newsletters and on our website. Sign up here.

Our Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Santa Monica Conservancy Board has resolved to strengthen its commitment to preserving and amplifying a more inclusive history that represents the many diverse people of Santa Monica and its environs.

The Conservancy was founded in 2002 and has worked to save some of Santa Monica’s most iconic historic buildings, promote historic districts, and develop many educational programs and tours to increase public appreciation for Santa Monica’s heritage.

But the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the nationwide social upheavals for racial justice have opened our eyes to the deficiencies in our work. Our focus has been far too narrow. We now see the urgency of widening our attention to recognize the places that reflect our diverse populations and their stories.

We must dig deeper to learn the places that were meaningful to the African Americans, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Americans and others who helped to create the Santa Monica we live in today, and to tell their unique stories.

We commit to becoming an anti-racist preservation organization, by taking these steps:

  • We will integrate a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens into all aspects of our current strategic plan and all of our programs.
  • We will expand outreach efforts to people of color and increase support for community-driven preservation.
  • We will increase the representation and engagement with people of color in our membership, volunteers, staff, board and leadership.
  • We will seek out the untold stories of place and make them more visible.

While this is just a beginning, we will listen and learn from our community to make the Santa Monica Conservancy a model of truth-telling.  We will seek out the places important to all our residents and ancestors, revealing a far more inclusive history of Santa Monica than ever before.

Our Commitment to Education

We are dedicated to preservation education and envision a community where:

  • Community members can identify historic places and architecturally significant structures in neighborhoods with an understanding of adaptive reuse and a sensitivity to modification to accommodate changing needs;
  • School children learn about the city’s architectural heritage and historic places and why they are important to preserve;
  • Public officials support enactment and implementation of effective preservation incentives;
  • Owners know whether their property has potential historic value, appreciate its special attributes, understand that interior as well as appropriate exterior modification is possible even for landmarked structures, and are aware of incentives available to landmark owners.
  • Realtors and developers highlight attributes that make a property a potential landmark in marketing, have working knowledge of the federal, state and local tax and fee incentives that are associated with landmarked structures, and understand that historic places retain their value and help to maintain desirable neighborhood character;
  • Architects include successful adaptive reuse projects in their portfolios, help clients understand environmental and other benefits of preservation, and take advantage of incentives that encourage adaptive reuse to give properties that are potentially landmark worthy contemporary relevance and utility.
  • Visitors, local and foreign, cite Santa Monica’s historically significant structures and places, gracious neighborhoods and parks, shopping streets, historic hotels and pier as highlights of their stay and a reason for return.