Archaeologists & Cultural Resource Consultants

Historic, Archaeological, Paleontological & Native American Studies, Reports & Monitoring

The City of San Juan Capistrano City Council has adopted a policy that provides for the identification, protection, preservation and mitigation of cultural prehistoric, historic, archaeological and paleontological resources: Council Policy 601 (PDF).

Cultural Resources Assessments

Sometimes the City notifies property owners or applicants that their remodel or development project has to assess whether any pre-historic, historic, archaeological or paleontological resources might be present on the site for the project's environmental evaluation. The links to consultants in the various sections of this page may be used for these purposes.

Monitoring of Ground-Disturbing Activities

Development projects, landscape improvements and new infrastructure in culturally sensitive areas ranging from utility and retaining wall trenching to major new commercial or residential developments are required to include archaeological, paleontological and/or Native American monitoring during grading and construction. The City identifies when this is required either through the environmental evaluation of a development project, or through the grading or building permit plan check process.

When a condition of approval for a development project or a permit states that archaeological, Native American and/or paleontological monitors are required to be retained by the applicant, there are certain standards or guidelines that apply.

Archaeological & Paleontological Monitoring

The supervising archaeologists and paleontologists for project monitoring must be certified by the County of Orange. The Orange County Public Works website link is here for any information needed, you can call Orange County Public Works (855.886.5400) for the certified lists of archaeologists and paleontologists. The City Community Development Department also has hard copies available at the Planning Counter.

Native American Monitoring

There is no "certified list" of Native American monitors. However, the State of California established the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) in 1976, which is the appropriate source of information before an owner/developer or their representative (archaeological firm) selects a Native American monitor for a project. There are over 150 federally-recognized and non-federally-recognized tribes in California. The Native American tribe indigenous to the Capistrano Valley region and surrounding areas since before the Mission was established is the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation. Upon request by an owner/developer or their representative, the NAHC will provide a list of culturally affiliated Juaneño Native American contacts to consult with for environmental evaluations before a project is approved and for monitoring services during development. See the NAHC website.

Identification & Modification of Historic Sites

In order for a site to be voluntarily designated as a historic site, it must be identified as historic and listed on the City's Inventory of Historic and Cultural Landmarks (IHCL); for more information about that process, see Understanding the Inventory of Historic and Cultural Landmarks. Sites that are on the IHCL can have modifications made to them as long as the changes meet certain standards and are approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission or the Development Services Director for minor changes. Cultural Heritage Commission review is done through the Site Plan Review application process (see Site Plan Review Brochure [PDF]). For assistance from historic preservation firms on the preparation of historic reports in order to be listed on the IHCL, or for modifications to a site that is already listed on the IHCL, Council Policy 601 (PDF) establishes credentials that professionals should have when they are going to be hired to do this work.

The California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS) maintains a searchable database of architectural and historian firms that work in the Orange County area and which meet the credentials in Council Policy 601 (PDF). You may search the database by selecting a professional discipline and selecting Orange County in the two dropdown menus. These professionals may be retained by property owners to conduct historic research, prepare cultural resource reports for IHCL designations or environmental review, or prepare plans for projects involving historic properties. Additional consultants may be utilized if approved by the Development Services Director. But please remember that if you select an archaeologist from this database, they need to be certified by the County of Orange (see Archaeological and Paleontological Monitoring paragraph above). Additional questions about qualified professionals may be directed to the American Institute of Architects, or you may email the CHRIS South Central Coastal Information Center at Cal State Fullerton.