Wow. I guess California really is serious about saving energy - I live here, and I had no idea they’re so strict. I can’t say I blame them.
However. If my reading is correct, there is a loophole in the code (for other responders, Sections 150 and 152 are the relevant portion). I have not tried this personally, but I have seen houses in which it has been done, and I can only assume it’s because of the code:
(DISCLAIMER: I am not a building official, nor am I instructing you to do anything that I know to be in violation of the letter of the code. Proceed at your own risk. What is or is not acceptable is entirely up to the inspector, and a lot of the time, it just depends on his own subjective opinion.)
Step 1: Do not install any built-in lighting fixtures of any kind.
Step 2: Instead, install a whole bunch of standard electrical outlets, such that they can be turned on and off by means of a standard wall switch.
Step 3: Pass your building inspection. If necessary, tell the building inspector that you plan to install plug-in fluorescent fixtures. Or even have same installed and plugged in when the inspector arrives. For good measure, have tasty snacks available when the inspector arrives (you think I’m kidding).
Step 4: Go out and buy plug-in fixtures with standard screw-type sockets that aren’t, well, ugly. These are still perfectly legal to purchase.
Step 5: Buy compact fluorescent bulbs to go with them. Saving energy is, after all, a noble goal. But there’s no reason you can’t be stylish at the same time.
I have seen the switched-outlet approach in a number of houses here in CA, and it seems to work just fine. My parents also have some nice, hanging candelabra-style lighting in the kitchen in their 150+ year old house (in Pennsylvania) that plugs into a switched outlet; actually, I think that particular style of lighting complements the old architecture nicely. This also has the added advantage of allowing you to change fixtures with a minimum of effort, should the ones you have break, or grow tiresome.
I can’t speak to the historic building code…with luck, someone else with more experience will be along. One piece of advice though: there are a number of consultants out here who help ordinary mortals negotiate these code issues. You might wish to avail yourself of one; they are usually pretty reasonable, in terms of price.