As a society, we are always striving toward growth, progress, innovation, and change. But sometimes it’s important to look back at where we were and what we came from.
California has a rich architectural history, and in an effort to preserve the state’s heritage, California has adopted several initiatives to protect historically relevant buildings, homes, and public spaces. One such program is the California Mills Act, aimed encouraging the preservation and restoration of private historical residences.
What Is The Mills Act?
The Mills Act is an important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners. The Mills Act was established in 1972 as a state-wide initiative, implemented by local governments. The Mills Act legislation grants participating local governments (cities and counties) the authority to enter into contracts with owners of “qualified historic properties.” In exchange for property tax relief, private property owners actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their historic properties.
What Is A Mills Act Contract?
A Mills Act Contract is between a private property owner and the local government (city or county) in which the historic property resides. Mills Act contracts are for 10 years initially, with yearly automatic extensions.
Owners of historic buildings or residences may qualify for property tax relief if they pledge to rehabilitate and maintain the historical and architectural character of their property for at least a 10-year period.
What Is A Qualified Historic Property?
Qualified historic properties are properties that are listed on any federal, state, or county registers, including the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historical Resources, California Historical Landmarks, State Points of Historical Interest, and locally designated landmarks. Owner-occupied family residences and income-producing commercial properties may qualify for the Mills Act program, subject to local regulations.
What Are The Benefits To Homeowners?
If a private homeowner’s property has been deemed historical, and a Mills contract has been entered into with the local government, the homeowner may receive a substantial property tax savings each year (about 40%-60%). The homeowner must pledge to rehabilitate and maintain the historical and architectural character of the property for the life of the contract.
What Are The Terms Of The Contract?
Property owners agree to restore, maintain, and protect the property in accordance with specific historic preservation standards and conditions identified in the contract. Periodic inspections by City and County officials ensure proper maintenance of the property. The City may impose penalties for breach of contract or failure to protect the historic property.
What If I’m Buying A Mills Act Property?
Mills Act contract are transferrable. Subsequent owners are bound by the contract and have the same rights and obligations as the original owner who initiated the contract. Terms are negotiated with local governments independently, so it is important to contact your local government to determine the rights and obligations a Mills Act contract creates.
Does My Property Qualify For The Mills Act?
To find out if your property qualifies for the Mills Act, use the Mills Act Contacts list to see which California local governments are currently participating in the Mills Act Program, the local criteria, and the application process.
Los Angeles Mills Act Information
For Los Angeles residents, a qualified historic property is a property listed as a locally-designated Historic-Cultural Monument or Contributing Property to an approved Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. Additionally, single-family residences (with a property tax value assessment of not more than $1,500,000) and income producing multi-family/commercial/industrial properties (with a property tax value assessment of not more than $3,000,000) are eligible to apply. Property values in excess of these limits may apply for an exemption if they meet certain criteria.
The City will be accepting applications for properties that need significant rehabilitation or restoration work. The work needed to rehabilitate or restore the property shall be pending or not completed. Applications will be prioritized based on how the Mills Act will be used to assist the viability of the project.