Reduce Taxes on Landmark Property
Take advantage of property tax reductions on historical properties in exchange for their rehabilitation and restoration.
The Mills Act offers owners of historical buildings in the City of Berkeley the opportunity to realize property tax savings in exchange for preserving buildings designated as a City of Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit, or buildings in a Historic District. If you own one of these designated buildings, you can apply for a contract with the City to reduce your property taxes.
Ensure Property Is Eligible
To qualify for the Mills Act property tax savings in the City of Berkeley, a building must first be designated as a Landmark, Structure of Merit, or building in a Historic District. (View the current list of designated landmarks.)
Tax benefits are available for either income property or owner-occupied property. Each property owner should confer with his/her/their own counsel concerning the advisability of entering into a Mills Act contract prior to filling out an application.
Apply for Tax Property Benefits with The City
The Mills Act law enables the City Council to enter into 10-year contracts with owners of historic properties. If you have a designated landmark property and would like to apply, you will need two sets of documents - one prepared by the property owner and another by a historic preservation specialist.
Property owner–prepared documents
- Fill out the Mills Act Contract Application
- Make a copy of the legal description, which can be found in the deed of the property.
- Complete a financial analysis for the Mills Act contract form (see sample). The final financial analysis is prepared by the Alameda County Assessor's Office.
Historic Preservation Specialist–prepared documents
The following can be prepared by a specialist in historic preservation:
- An architectural report identifying the status of all character defining features of the building(s) and site (photographs required).
- A restoration/rehabilitation plan for the designated property. If the building(s) is already restored in good condition, a maintenance list must be submitted to support the need for tax relief.
Download an example of a recent Mills Act contract application.
When completed, submit the application and fee at the Permit Service Center's Zoning counter.
Permit Service Center
Planning & Development Department
1947 Center Street, 3rd Floor
Berkeley, CA. 94704
The deadline to be considered for the next tax year is June 1 of every year. LPC reviews any applications typically in August and City Council considers them in the fall.
Contact the Landmarks Preservation Commission Secretary prior to submittal with questions or to review draft materials at email@example.com.
Download the Mills Act brochure to learn how to estimate property tax savings for a historical landmark. The brochure includes information on how property valuation is determined and an example of tax savings on a single-family dwelling or condo.
Mills Act Contract Terms
Contract is for a period of 10 years.
The Mills Act law enables the City Council to enter into contracts with a minimum of 10-year term with owners of historic properties. Under these "Mills Act contracts," owners agree to maintain and—when necessary—repair their historic structures.
Mills Act contracts are automatically renewed for an additional year. Unless the City or the owner files a notice of non-renewal, a contract always has a term of 10 years.
Owner or Council may cancel or choose not to renew the contract.
Either the property owner or the City may elect not to renew for any reason, which terminates the contract at the end of the current 10-year term. During the remainder of the term, the property taxes increase gradually to the normal level.
The owner may also petition the City to cancel the contract. This may require assessment of a penalty of as much as 12.5% of pre-Mills Act valuation. The City may also cancel the contract in the case of breach of terms or conditions. Once the contract is terminated, the property owner's taxes increase to the level they would have been at without the Mills Act contract.