Mills Act Incentive Program
The Mills Act Historic Property Contracts Program is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners.
This state law allows local jurisdictions to enter into contracts with private property owners to guarantee the preservation of designated historic sites or structures.
Property owners who participate in the Mills Act program make a contractual agreement with their respective jurisdiction to adhere to a schedule of maintenance repairs and upkeep on their historic property for the duration of the contract, which spans ten years and self-renews at the end of each year.
In exchange, the property owner is entitled to an alternate evaluation of the property for tax purposes, which usually results in a reduced property tax bill.
Despite its clear and considerable value, the Mills Act had been implemented by only twenty-five Los Angeles County jurisdictions as of March 2014: Beverly Hills, Bradbury, Burbank, Calabasas, Claremont, Glendale, Glendora, Huntington Park, La Cañada Flintridge, La Verne, Lawndale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Pasadena, Pomona, Redondo Beach, San Dimas, San Gabriel, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, West Hollywood, and Whittier. The County of Los Angeles is currently in the process of establishing a Mills Act program.
Since the Mills Act is typically the only economic incentive tool available to local jurisdictions, the existence of a program at the local level is a good indicator of a particular jurisdiction’s commitment to historic preservation.
In most Los Angeles County jurisdictions that have implemented the Mills Act program, properties eligible for participation must either be designated as a local landmark or be a contributor to a locally designated historic district.
Many more property owners will initiate or approve the designation of their properties if they can reap tax savings through the Mills Act program.