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San Buenaventura Conservancy

P.O Box 23263

Ventura, CA 93002

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"Historic Preservation is about managing change, not preventing it."
Linda Dishman, L.A. Conservancy, quoted from L.A. Times, 07.10.10

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There are many incentives to preserving historical architecture besides the obvious ones of respecting history, preserving beauty, and documenting the past. The following are some examples of historic preservation incentives currently available in California. Some of these may apply to your home, and this list is not meant to be all-inclusive.


Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits
Credit on federal income tax liability of 20% of rehabilitation costs using Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, for income-producing properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places; administered through the California Office of Historic Preservation. Can be combined with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other grant funds. Consult the California Office of Historic Preservation for issues on building or work eligibility and consult your tax attorney or accountant relative to individual circumstances on the use of these credits and recapture provisions.
Bank of America Historic Tax Credit Fund
The Bank of American Historic Tax Credit Fund, managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation's for-profit subsidiary, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, makes equity investments in the rehabilitation of historic properties eligible for the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit and the 10% non-historic credit. The federal 10% rehabilitation credit is for non-historic, income-producing properties (except not including residential use) built prior to 1936.
Conservation/Preservation Easement Charitable Contribution Deductions
Charitable contribution deduction on federal income tax related to the donation of an easement, in perpetuity, on property listed in the National Register of Historic Places to a qualified easement holder, either a governmental entity or not-for-profit corporation. Contact easement holder entity for details.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
Federal CDBG-funded grants and loan programs are often used to encourage historic preservation or for general rehabilitation projects that can be applied to historic buildings. Contact your local (city or county) Redevelopment Authority or Housing Agency about the programs in Ventura.
Transportation Enhancement Activities
Certain funds appropriated under 6-year federal transportation programs can be used for public transportation-related historic preservation projects under the Enhancement Activities provisions of the federal law. Enhancement programs are administered through procedures and supplemental criteria developed within each state, and in California, the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), sometimes called by a different name. Contact the MPO in Ventura county to determine the grant criteria and application procedures for awarding these funds. Most agencies' grant criteria are developed early in the funding cycle. The SAFETEA act is currently being debated in Congress, including whether or not to continue the Enhancement Activities funding. Go to Caltrans for these monies.


Mills Act
This State law allows local governments to contract for 10 or more years with owners of qualified historic properties for property tax relief in return for abiding by preservation requirements. It reduces the valuation for tax purposes. Contact Ventura's or Ventura county's Preservation Office or Planning Department to see if it has enacted a Mills Act program, and if so the specific program requirements and application procedures it has adopted.
CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)
State environmental review requirements allow an exemption relative to work on historic buildings that comply with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation. Contact city or county Preservation Office, Planning Department or environmental review staff about the eligibility of your project for this exemption.
State Historical Building Code
Chapter 8 of the building code used in California is for qualified historic buildings which allows for flexibility in the ways certain standards and tests of the code can be met in order to preserve significant historic features and fabric; some exceptions for schools, hospitals; administered by local Building officials and Fire Marshals. Appeals to State Historical Building Safety Board.
Seismic Retrofit Property Tax Exclusion
This program allows for a 15-year exclusion of costs of seismic retrofit in property tax assessments. Co-ordinate with local building department as to the seismic retrofit work involved in the project and the value of that work, and contact your county tax assessor within 30 days of completion of the project.
California Cultural and Historic Endowment Board Grant Program
Administered by the State Library, approximately $120M in proceeds form the March 2002 Proposition 40 bond funds for cultural, historic and museum capital projects will be awarded to non-profits and local government agencies through competitive grants. Decisions on grant criteria, and application procedures, will be made by the California Cultural and Historic Endowment Board. All Board members have not yet been appointed. Contact State Library for further information.
California Heritage Fund
A state program administered by the California Office of Historic Preservation allowing for 50% matching grants, from $10,000 to $1M for historic preservation projects on eligible historic properties owned by public agencies and qualified not-for-profit organizations. Proposition 12 which passed in march 2000, grants have generally all been awarded. Contact the California Office of Historic Preservation for information.


Contact local city or county Preservation Office or Planning department. Many communities have adopted special incentives to encourage rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings, including some of the following types of programs:
Planning and Permit Fee Waivers
Zoning Incentives involving flexibility in uses and parking waivers
Design Assistance either offered free or chard or grants to cover a portion of the costs
National Register Application preparation
Expedited Permitting for historic rehabilitation projects
Special publicly-funded loan programs for rehabilitation projects
Mills Act programs (see above)
Redevelopment agencies in California often also utilize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) pooled funds to assist projects in areas pursuing revitalization, and, using various other funding sources, often have established facade grant programs and loan programs for specific purposes.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has small grant programs for specific types of preservation projects, including Preservation Services Fund grants to help non-profit organizations and public agencies with the costs of consulting services for preservation project planning.
Johanna Favrot Fund
Grants to non-profits and public agencies for preservation work involving National Historic landmarks
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund
Grants to non-profits and public agencies involving National Historic landmark interiors
National Preservation Loan Fund
Provides below-market rate loans to nonprofit organizations and local governments. Contact western regional office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in San Francisco.
Foundation or Corporate Grants
While not often earmarked for historic preservation projects, sometimes these are a source of funds for rehabilitation projects. Foundation and corporation grant-making criteria are unique to the foundation or corporation and often highly competitive.