Substantial improvement" means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, or any accumulation thereof occurring after July 23, 1980, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value or square footage of the structure either:
1. Before the "start of construction" of the improvement or in the case of cumulative improvements before July 23, 1980; or
2. If the structure has incurred "substantial damage" and is being restored, before the damage occurred. For the purposes of this definition, "substantial improvement" is considered to occur when the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of the structure commences, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the structure.
This term does not, however, include either:
1. Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations or comply with state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
2. Any alteration of a "historic structure" provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a "historic structure."
A change from nonresidential to residential structure use shall constitute a "substantial improvement" for the purpose of bringing the structure under consideration into conformance with Fresno County Ordinance Chapter 15.48. The addition or improvement of a basement shall constitute a "substantial improvement."