The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) Every civilization defines itself in part by its past, and an understanding of its past helps determine its basic values and future aspirations. Understanding of the past is strengthened and deepened through contact with the buildings, physical places, and artifacts of earlier times. Through learning this past, our young and future generations come to better understand the society in which they live and to better understand themselves.
(b) As America's physical culture and built environment become remarkably similar throughout the country, it is left to the natural environment and the structures of the past to give a unique sense of place to our communities. Preserving these structures is becoming increasingly compelling as the homogeneity of our physical culture increases.
(c) The buildings, other structures, and artifacts that embody California's past are in escalating danger of being redeveloped, remodeled, renovated, paved, excavated, bulldozed, modernized, and lost forever.
(d) For history to be part of our lives, we must include it in our daily lives, through the adaptive reuse of historic structures in our older commercial districts and inner cities.
(e) California has one of the most diverse populations on earth and its cultural and historic preservation program should reflect that fact. Early cultural and historic preservation efforts often focused on the structures and activities of our European ancestors. Without minimizing their contribution, it is important to pursue other historical threads that are important to California's Latino population, to African-Americans, to Asians and Pacific Islanders, to Native Americans, to Jewish persons, and to many other groups of peoples with uniquely identifiable cultures and histories. It is increasingly important to preserve the physical and cultural history and folklife of these many groups' presence and contributions to California's history.
(f) Historic preservation should include the contributions of all Californians. The study of history once focused largely on the actions and works of wealthy, powerful, noble, brilliant, or famous persons. More recently, historians have tried to increase understanding of how more ordinary people lived and thought. California's historic preservation efforts should allow its citizens and visitors to experience something of the physical world of both.
(g) In 1997, California's Statewide Historic Preservation Plan was prepared pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and includes seven statewide goals, including the goal to promote the preservation and stewardship of cultural resources among a diversified state population representing all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum.
(h) California's retained past certainly includes sites important to its prehistoric and later Native American people, and the remaining great structures of the 19th century. But the state also needs to consciously preserve selected remnants of the 1930s, of California's great role in World War II, as well as representative structures and sites that were culturally or economically important during the 1950s, 1960s, and, in some cases, even more recently.
(i) California's historic missions are among California's most evocative historical structures. Their continued protection and restoration should continue to have high priority.
(j) California's museums are among the most important and cherished repositories of the state's cultural and historical heritage.
(k) California's partnerships with federal, state, and local governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations have helped us understand the range and diversity of California's history and historic and cultural resources and artifacts and have helped develop a better understanding of the educational, environmental, and economic benefits of, and tools available for, the preservation and interpretation of historic and cultural resources and artifacts.
(Added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1126, Sec. 1.)