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Historic Preservation

Forty-eight properties listed on Sierra Madre's Designated Historical Properties List are examples of the character and history that reflect the City's cultural, historical and architectural heritage. The sites may be associated with local, state, or national cultural, social, economic, political, or natural history, events or persons significant to the history of Sierra Madre. They may represent an architectural style or method of construction from a notable builder, designer or architect. These properties represent the best preserved historic foundations to bridge the past with future generations and for all to appreciate, enjoy and understand the rich heritage of the City.

Mills Act

The Mills Act (Government Code section 50280, et seq.) allows cities discretion to enter into contracts with the owners of qualified historical properties for the purpose of preserving, restoring and rehabilitating historical properties. The City Council has stayed the acceptance of future Mills Act applications until a review of existing Mills Act contracts is complete.

The City of Sierra Madre allows a property owner of a structure designated as a City Historic Landmark to apply for a Mills Act Contract. This contract is an agreement between the City and the owner of the landmark structure. The agreement requires the owner of the property to undertake specific restoration tasks specified in the contract and to properly maintain the historic landmark. In exchange for this, the owner benefits from a reduction in property taxes. Mills Act contracts extend for a period of ten (10) years, and are automatically renewed on an annual basis on the anniversary of the contract and therefore can run in perpetuity with the property. The obligations of the contract are binding upon all successive owners during the lifetime of the contract. To end a contract, either party may submit a notice of non-renewal which will terminate the contract at the end of the ten (10) year period.

The Mills Act contracts are granted by the City Council following a review and recommendation by the Planning Commission who performs the duties of the Cultural Heritage Commission.

As part of the approval, applicants are required to file a Historic Property Preservation Agreement with the County of Los Angeles. The agreement states that during the term of the agreement, the property shall preserve and maintain the characteristics of cultural and historical significance and the owner shall submit an annual report to Development Services which shall specify the work completed during the year to fulfill the requirements of their contract. The owner shall also restore the property according to the rules of the Office of Historic Preservation. The owner shall not block view corridors and the owner shall allow for reasonable periodic examinations that may be necessary to determine compliance with their agreement.

Mills Act Application Process

Property owners must:

  1. Submit a completed application to the Development Services Department.
  2. Review and recommendation is received by the Planning Commission.
  3. City Council makes the following findings
    • The Mills Act Contract will serve to compensate for the cost of rehabilitating and or maintaining the cultural resource. The submission of a proforma, in addition to a rehabilitation plan cost estimate and Mills Act Financial Analysis Form will be required to make this finding.
    • The rehabilitation of the resource will occur prior to, or in conjunction with, the use of the Mills Act Contract that it will not impair the architectural, historic or aesthetic integrity of the cultural resource.
    1. Approved applicants file a Historic Property Preservation Agreement with the County of Los Angeles.

    Visit our City of Sierra Madre, CA flickr gallery made from images in the Sierra Madre Historical Archives.