Sunday, April 20, 2008 | Your article, “Wrong Number Typifies Confusion in Historic Preservation Battle” goes a long way to correct the distortions and propaganda pumped out by Mayor Jerry Sanders and his staff in recent months. But there is far more to the story. Critics claim that 886 Mills Act contracts are somehow “bad” for the city of San Diego because we allegedly have the most historically protected houses in the State of California.

This is not true and out of proportion from reality.

Take the city of Los Angeles, for example. Their Office of Historic Preservation imposed 22 historic districts over 9,790 contributing buildings (involuntary designations) and have 17 more historic districts in the works. They have only been a Certified Local Government for less than five years and been in the Mills Act program even less. However, in less than five years, they have created 384 Mills Act contracts and did as many as the city of San Diego in 2007. By the time all 37 districts are created, Los Angeles will have more than 20,000 houses protected and probably match our number of Mills Act contracts.

Critics allege that San Diego homeowners only want the Mills Act so their house will sell for more money. So what if they do? Andrew Narwald, University of San Diego, has shown Mills Act houses sell for 16 percent more than houses without and entire neighborhoods go up in property value, which always translates to increased property taxes for the city of San Diego. If you count up the Mills Act houses that sold in 2007 and then the number of houses in their neighborhoods that sold, then you would see a significant escalation in property taxes gleaned by the Tax Assessor that far exceeds $600,000 in alleged losses.

So, if the Mills Act increases property taxes for entire neighborhoods in the city of San Diego, the state of California reimburses the City Schools for Mills Act “losses,” then our only problem is that we only have 2,000 houses protected in historic districts and the Mills Act is the best inducement to recruit homeowners to help protect these charming old neighborhoods that make San Diego the place we want to live!

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