Historic Site Board
Continued Historic Site Board Meetings During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, the County of San Diego has been conducting Historic Site Board meetings using virtual programs. The access information to attend virtual meetings are found on the agenda for a Historic Site Board meeting. Please contact staff if you have any questions regarding attending a virtual meeting.
Summary of Historic Site Board
The Historic Site Board (HSB) is an advisory board to the decision makers of the County of San Diego. The HSB reviews historic resources (including archaeological resources) for landmarking, participation in the Mills Act, and conformance with the Secretary of Interior Standards. The HSB considers project design and mitigation measures for resources identified during environmental review of discretionary permits. In addition, the HSB reviews legislation and the various cultural resource programs that are proposed for the County of San Diego.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When does the Historic Site Board meet?
A: The Historic Site Board generally meets on a quarterly basis at least four times a year. Historic Site Board meetings occur at 6:30 PM at the County Operations Center Hearing Chambers at 5520 Overland Avenue, San Diego CA 92123. A special meeting may be scheduled regarding Historic Site Board site visits or other circumstances resulting in a total of more than four meetings.
How do I know if I can make changes to a property that is under a Mills
Act Contract or on the Local Register of Historic Places?
A: In some circumstances, Planning & Development Services Staff will require the proposed changes to be heard by the Historic Site Board in order to obtain a recommendation and to find any proposed changes in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards Treatment of Historic Properties. A historic property that is listed on the Local, State, or National Register of Historic Resources shall be maintained with the property’s applicable designation and any changes shall be in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards Treatment of Historic Properties which can be found at the following link:
What is the Mills Act?
A: The Mills Act is an incentive program that encourages the maintenance, restoration, and preservation of historical resources. The County of San Diego has adopted a Mills Act Contract Program where owners of eligible historic resources can enter into the tax incentive based program. Mills Act Contracts require designation to the County of San Diego Local Register of Historical Resources.
See Ordinance No. 9425 for more information at the following link:
How do I know if my property is Historic or qualifies for a Mills Act Contract?
A: Generally, properties that are 50 years or older have the potential to be considered Historic. A property or potential resource less than 50 years old may be considered for listing in the Local Register if it can be determined that sufficient time has passed to understand its historical importance. However, there are explicit criteria outlined in Ordinance No. 9493 that determines if a property is eligible for listing on the Local Register of Historic Resources. The main four criteria for evaluating the significance of historical resources are:
1.) Is the resource associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of San Diego County’s history and Cultural heritage?
2.) Is the resource associated with the lives of persons important to the history of San Diego County or its communities?
3.) Does the resource embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, San Diego County region, or method of construction, or represents the work of an important creative individual, or possess high artistic values?
4.) Has the resource yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history?
A Historic Evaluation/Survey prepared in accordance with the Office of Historic Preservation’s “Instructions for Nominating Historical Resources to the California Register” is utilized to determine the significance of a potentially historic resource. In some circumstances, a property may already be listed on the State or National Register of Historical Resources.
See Ordinance No. 9493 for more information regarding the Local Register of Historical Resources:
How long is the contract and is it cancelled if I sell the property?
A: The term of the contract is ten years; however, it is automatically extended every year unless the property owner cancels the contract. The new owner would receive the full benefit of the contract because the contract goes with the property. It is the responsibility of a new property owner to ensure that the historic resource is maintained and all future rehabilitation/maintenance/restoration work outlined in the contract is completed.
Is the property owner required to open the property to the public?
A: No, the law was revised in 1985 when new legislation removed the requirement to have a property under a Mills Act Contract open to the public. Prior to that time, any property under contract had to be open to the public for tours, etc.
How are my taxes affected by the Mills Act Contract Process?
A: Typically, property owners can expect a 20% to 70% savings on their property taxes. Under State law, the lesser of 1.) The current market value, 2.) The Proposition 13 value, or 3.) The restricted value based on the rents will be used to calculate your property taxes. It is possible that the Proposition 13 value may actually be lower than the restricted value, and the property would receive no property tax benefit. Any tax reductions will be for the next year after recordation of the Mills Act Contract. A property owner cannot obtain tax credit for work that has taken place prior the recordation of the Mills Act Contract. For specific information regarding tax information, please contact the Assessor Office Mills Act Division or Todd McCracken at (619) 531-5002.
How does the Mills Act Application process work?
A: Once a Mills Act Contract Application is submitted along with the applicable fees, draft Mills Act Contract proposal, and Historical Nomination Evaluation, Planning and Development Services (PDS) Staff will review the application for completeness and for any applicable edits. After preliminary review, PDS Staff will then send the application materials and the Historical Nomination Evaluation to the Historic Site Board members approximately 30-45 days prior to the next scheduled Historic Site Board Meeting. The Historic Site Board members will then coordinate with the property owner in order to visit the site and review the nominated property. Adequate time such as 30-45 days before a Historic Site Board meeting is needed before a scheduled meeting to ensure that members of the Historic Site Board can visit the subject property and review the submitted materials. In some circumstances, a scheduled meeting outside of the normal quarterly meeting schedule can be organized if there are time conflicts. PDS Staff will prepare a Staff Report and the application and nominated property will be heard at a Historic Site Board Meeting after a minimum of four Historic Site Board Members have had the opportunity to visit the nominated site. The Historic Site Board will provide a recommendation to the Director of PDS in regards to the nomination of the property and participation in the Mills Act Contract program. In some cases, the Historic Site Board will provide recommendations regarding the specific proposed work/restoration/maintenance outlined in the Mills Act Contract to the Director of PDS. The Historic Site Board will likely have questions regarding the property or the submitted Historic Nomination Evaluation so the owner/consultant should be prepared to answer any applicable questions. Once a recommendation from the Historic Site Board is made, the Director of PDS will issue a decision regarding designation of the property to the Local Register of Historic Resources and Participation in the Mills Act Contract Program. PDS Staff will coordinate with the property owner following the Historic Site Board Meeting in order to complete any edits to materials as recommended by the Historic Site Board and to complete any applicable final documentation. If a Mills Act Contract for a property is approved by the Director of PDS, Staff will coordinate with the property owner regarding the Mills Act Contract and will require a notarized copy of the Mills Act Contract that PDS Staff will record. The Mills Act Contract will be recorded before the end of the same year that the decision by the Director of PDS is issued. Once a Mills Act Contract is recorded, any tax benefits for a newly listed property will go into effect the next year after recordation.
Please use the following link below in order to find the applicable fees and application materials for a Mills Act Contract application:
Who should I contact to assist in the preparation of a Mills Act
A: It is beneficial to first contact a local community organization, planning group, or historical society in order to obtain potentially relevant information for a historic property. Members of the community organization are likely familiar with the history of a community and may have beneficial knowledge and information that can be included within a Historical Nomination Evaluation. The County of San Diego also has an approved California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) consultants list that contains consultants who may be able to assist in the preparation of a Mills Act Contract Application and a historical nomination evaluation. An individual who prepares a Historical Nomination Evaluation does not have to be on the CEQA consultants list. However, the individual needs to have experience and credentials in order to determine if they are qualified to prepare an adequate Historical Nomination Evaluation. Preparation of some portions of documents associated with a Historical Nomination Evaluation require explicit criteria and experience set by the Office of Historic Preservation. The CEQA consultants list can be found at the link below:
What is required by a Mills Act Contract?
A: A Mills Act Contract outlines maintenance/rehabilitation/restoration work that must be completed in order to ensure that a historic resource is sufficiently maintained. Resources considered significant as identified in a recorded Mills Act Contract must be maintained for the perpetuity of a contract. Properties in violation of a Mills Act Contract are subject to violation fees including a fee equal to 12.5% of the current fair market value of the property.
Do I have to enter into a Mills Act Contract if I want to only nominate
a property for Historic Designation to the Local Register of Historical Resources?
A: No, the Mills Act Contract program is voluntary and a property may be nominated for Historic Designation to the Local Register of Historical Resources. However, a property must be designated on the Local Register for Historic Resources in order to qualify for participation in the Mills Act Contract program.
Do all historical properties in San Diego County qualify for the Mills Act?
A: No, only certain jurisdictions within San Diego County have adopted Mills Act ordinances. Please contact your local jurisdiction in order to determine if they have an adopted Mills Act ordinance. If you are within the unincorporated area of San Diego County, please use the contact information on this website. If you are within an incorporated area or city, please contact your local jurisdiction’s planning department.
Important Links and Information
HSB Specific Information
Historic Site Board Fact Sheet
Application for Board Appointment
Modifications, Additions and Repairs to Historic Resources
Information Required for Landmarking Applications
Historic Property List
Historic Landmarks Photo Album
Application for Historic
DPR 523A Primary Record
DPR 523B Building, Structure and Object Record
DPR 523J Location Map
DPR 523L Continuation Sheet
OHP Instructions for Recording Historical Resources
Staff Contact Information
For any additional questions, please contact County Staff for assistance regarding the Historic Site Board. If you have questions regarding a specific property, please provide the address or the Assessor's Parcel Number of the property to County Staff. Please note that the County of San Diego Historic Site Board evaluates historic resources within the unincorporated County of San Diego and not within incorporated cities.
County of San Diego Contact Information:
City of San Diego Contact Information/Website: