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The processes involved in designating historic properties have become increasingly participatory over the past quarter century, allowing more diverse publics to ascribe value to and preserve places. However, it is unclear whether such processes can ensure just and inclusive engagement and outcomes for the populations of historic districts post-designation and for other publics with a stake in preservation's effects. This paper examines the issue of exclusion through the lens of preservation as a form of public policy. It specifically investigates the societal aims-cum-benefits that preservation is intended to achieve through legislative mandates; how regulatory criteria address these public policy aims; and how/if these aims are shared by communities. By exploring how preservation success is defined through both public policy (comparative policy review) and the public eye (online survey), this research seeks to identify opportunities for and barriers to policy reform.