Featured Image Courtesy Courtesy John Lopez

Demystifying the Mills Act

The Mills Act stands as the single most important financial incentive in California, but its mechanics and process remains a mystery to many owners of historic properties. This session will explore the guidelines and benefits of Mills Act contracts, including associated terms, eligibility, restrictions, and limitations. Participants will look at the financial breakdown of Mills Act contracts, including the valuation and savings for various types of properties. Participants will also understand what rehabilitation expenses qualify and how to consider various historic features of buildings within teh scope of work.The session will close with real-life case examples from cities in California.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify which work tasks and costs qualify as expenses under a Mills Act program
  2. Determine the financial benefit of a Mills Act contract for various types of historic properties, large, small, commercial, and residential.
  3. Understand who best benefits from a Mills Act contract and its implications on property value
  4. Using case examples, estimate what to expect in Mills Act assessments and tax savings for different project types and geographic areas.


  • Shane Swerdlow, Associate, Chattel, Inc
  • Kevin Johnson, Senior Planner, City of Pasadena