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Landmarking Your Home

The leaders of our City realized that our inventory of vintage homes and buildings could be in jeopardy if something wasn’t done to safeguard them from demolition. The City of Monrovia adopted the current Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1995 and began landmarking historic structures soon thereafter. Currently there are over 50 landmarked buildings, and more are on the way.

Any owner of historic property can apply to landmark their home or building. The Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council must both find that the application meets one or more of the criteria and standards for the designations of a landmark, as follows:

  • It is identified with persons or events significant in local, regional, state, or national history.
  • It is representative of the work of a notable builder, designer, or architect.
  • It contributes to the significance of an historic area.
  • It embodies one or more distinctive characteristics of style, type, period, design, materials, or craftsmanship.
  • It has a unique location or physical characteristics or represents an estab-lished and familiar visual feature of neighborhood, community, or the City.
  • It incorporates elements that help preserve and protect an historic place or area of historic interest in the City.
  • It has yielded, or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history.

At the same time an owner applies for landmark status with the City, they can also apply for the Mills Act Contract. This is a ten-year contract, renewable every year, that allows a property owner significant tax savings in exchange for maintaining the historical and architectural character of the property in accordance with the City’s regulations and conditions.

Landmarked property covered by the Mills Act uses three different methods for assessment valuation. The first number is the Proposition 13 value increase, which can’t go up more than 2% a year. The second number is the estimated current fair market value of the property. And the third number is the Mills Act Appraised Value. Under the provisions of the Mills Act, the Assessor is required to review the assessed values annually and enroll the lowest of the three values indicated. The Mills Act assessment fluctuates every year based on the rental value and the capitalization rate that is release yearly by the State Board of Equalization.

To give you an idea on how significant these tax savings can be, consider that a recent historic property that I listed sold for $725,000, and the Mills Act value is $190,700. These owners are enjoying big savings by owning a landmarked structure!

Shouldn’t you consider landmarking your home?

Buying or owning an older home doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Some people want a home that’s already been “fixed up,” while others are looking for a home to make their very own restoration project. Regardless of your reasons for wanting an older home, you may be interested in knowing some of the advantages of older construction vs. newer.

Builders in days past showed great pride in craftsmanship. Many times, these homes were built by someone who did much of the work himself, instead of sub-contracting bits and pieces.
Electricians, plumbers and other tradesman took their time doing things to be sure they were done right.
Special touches were typical of older home construction. Things such as crown molding, wainscoting, inlaid hardwood accents in flooring, and built-ins made significant contributions of the appeal of these homes.

Vintage homes are very much in demand today due to their timeless style and beauty. Congratulations on owning one of these gems.

Here are some of my favorite websites that focus on history, preservation and restoration:

Monrovia Old House Preservation Group
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Preservation Action
California Preservation Foundation
State of California Office of Historic Preservation
Los Angeles Conservancy
Historical Society of Southern California
National Register of Historic Places

If you know of others, I’d love to hear from you!


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