Los Angeles County Approves Mills Act Program for Landmarks

The Denker Estate, a designated historic site by the City of Los Angeles at 3820 West Adams Boulevard.

For years now, rambling Victorian mansions in the West Adams district or the mid-century stretches of View Park benefited from a 1972 state law called the Mills Act that gave tax incentives to preserve historic homes and property.

Unincorporated stretches of Los Angeles County did not have this program available—until now.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to enact a Mills Act Program for homes, buildings and other landmarks as part of an effort to support and encourage historic preservation in the county’s unincorporated areas.

The motion, authored by Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, will ensure that that the county will have a system in place to proactively encourage the preservation of older structures and landmarks that are architecturally or culturally significant. The motion is part of an effort to create a formal and comprehensive program to promote historic preservation throughout our unincorporated communities.

The Mills Act Program, enacted in 1972 by the Californian legislature, allows local cities and counties the authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties. The property owners receive a property tax reduction and must use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their buildings.

Over the past year, the Department of Regional Planning has worked in consultation with the Los Angeles County Historical Landmarks and Records Commission and the Assessor’s Office to initiate the development of a historical preservation ordinance, as well as draft the ordinance for a Mills Act Program.

Chairman Ridley-Thomas introduced similar legislation in 1996, during his tenure on the Los Angeles City Council, to ensure the implementation of a local Mills Act Program. Since then, more than 600 properties have been enrolled in the program.

“The Mills Act Program is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of historic buildings by private property owners,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “Not only does it encourage upgrades to properties but it also stimulates job creation, community revitalization and potentially tourism. This is a win-win for our county’s unincorporated areas.”