For Property Owners
If you're an owner of a residential or commercial historic property in Orange County the information found here can guide the choices you make in managing your historic asset. The information in this section is up-to-date and reflects the state-of-the-art in preservation locally and nationally.
Mills Act: The Best Incentive for Residential Property Owners
The State of California offers a property tax rebate program to owners of historic homes under the Mills Act. If you live in one of the nine cities in Orange County that have Mills Act contracts with the state then you may be eligible for a reduction in your property tax in exchange for a commitment to maintain your home. For more information about your city’s program, select one of the links below. Do you own a historic home in an Orange County city that does not have the Mills Act and would like to become an advocate? Learn more.
Mills Act Cities in Orange County
Smart Guidelines for Restoring and Renovating
If you’ve read your city’s Design Guidelines or Historic Preservation Ordinance, they likely make reference to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. These standards are applied by owners of historic places- public and private, residential and commercial- all over the US. If you want to "rehabilitate" or make changes to your historic property follow the example of hundreds of thousands of historic properties throughout the country. In the language of the Secretary of the Interior, emphasize "repair over replacement" and "limited rather than wholesale change to accommodate new uses."
About Those Windows
Nothing takes up more air time in discussions among historic home owners and city planners than the subject of window replacement. Before contacting your city planning department, consult some of this great background material from expert resources.
- 10 Reasons to Repair Your Old Windows: City of Anaheim
- 13 Things You Should Know About Retrofitting Historic Windows: National Trust for Historic Preservation
- The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows: National Park Service
- Saving Windows, Saving Money
Incentives for Commercial Property Owners
The rehabilitation of an historic building that is income producing can be eligible for the Federal Historic Tax Credit. Since 2002, only one building in Orange County- the Old City Hall in Santa Ana- has taken advantage of the tax credit. If you are converting a historic building such as a train station, warehouse or school into a new use such as a condominium residence or a mixed-use facility, your project may be eligible.
For owners of a historic property in California, another incentive to restore or adapt it to a new use while meeting the state’s health and safety laws is to follow the California Historical Building Code.