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City of Sacramento Mills Act Historical Property Contract Program


About the program

The Mills Act Contract program is an incentive that reduces property taxes for historic properties in exchange for an owner agreeing to preserve and maintain their historic building. The Mills Act is the single most important economic incentive program in California available for owners of historic properties. Enacted in 1972, the California Mills Act legislation grants participating local governments (cities and counties) authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties. The City of Sacramento amended the Mills Act Section of the City Code (17.604.720) in 2018 to clarify and streamline the process of applying for and obtaining a Mills Act contract.


Potential Tax Savings

The assessment of a property under a Mills Act agreement, usually, but not always results in tax relief for the property owner. Since the city is not directly involved in the tax assessment process, specific questions about property tax valuation should be directed to a tax professional or the Sacramento County Assessor’s office. For more information, the State Board of Equalization has published “Guidelines for the Assessment of Enforceably Restricted Historical Properties.” 

How to Apply Step-by-Step 

Step 1. Check to see if your property is eligible. Check the address to determine if the property is a historic landmark or a contributor to a historic district by visiting the Planning LAND USE INFORMATION PORTAL. In rare cases, properties are listed in the state or national historic register. These properties are eligible to apply for a contract. Contact to if you are unsure if your property is listed in the state or national register.  

Step 2. Gather the necessary documents. A owner of a qualified historical property must submit the following items to the Planning Department to be considered for a Mills Act contract: 

  1. Completed Mills Act Application 
  2. Copy of the property’s grant deed 
  3. Copy of the most recent property tax bill 
  4. Clear color photos, labeled, minimum size 3”x5”. The photos should include all exterior sides of the structure or areas of the property, interior photos of relevant areas where work may be proposed, both overall and detail views. 
  5. Proposed work plan 

Step 3. Submit application and supporting material online. Visit E-PLANNING SUBMITTAL SERVICE page to submit the application and pay the contract processing fee. 

Note: Applications are processed twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Once a contract is recorded by the County Recorder, it will be reassessed by the County Assessor the following calendar year. The first tax assessment will occur in November of the year after a contract is recorded. The first annual report is due the year after the first affected tax bill is issued. 

Mills Act Fees 

There are several fees associated with Mills Act contracts. Fees include an application fee ($168), a contract fee ($840-$1428), and an annual reporting and inspection fee ($252).  
Under most circumstances, these fees will be greatly offset by the benefits received in the form of reduced property taxes.

Reports and Inspection 

The owner of a property subject to a Mills Act agreement is required to complete and submit the city’s annual reporting form and pay the annual contract administration fee. The city will conduct annual in-person inspections on an as-needed basis. At a minimum, each property subject to a Mills Act contract will be inspected in-person once every five years. 

Download and complete the Annual Report Form and email it along with the required information to or submit by mail to:  

Community Development Department  
ATTN: Sean de Courcy 
300 Richards Blvd 3rd Floor,  
Sacramento, CA 95818 

Basic Contract Terms 

Mills Act contracts are subject to the requirements in California Government Code, Article 12, Sections 50280 – 50290, which can be found by visiting, GUIDELINES FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF ENFORCEABLY RESTRICTED HISTORICAL PROPERTY.  

Download a SAMPLE contract to review the terms.

Evaluating an Application 

City Staff  
No more than 12 applications will be recommended for approval at one time. Applications not recommended for approval will be considered during the next application cycle. Staff will evaluate applications considering applicable criteria, which include: 

  1. The property is significant due to its historic value, location, or other attribute 
  2. The applicant has the ability to preserve and, when necessary, restore and rehabilitate the property 
  3. The preservation and, when necessary, restoration and rehabilitation of the property will enhance the city’s inventory of historic and cultural resources 

City Council  
City council may choose to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the Mills Act agreement. If the city council does not act on a Mills Act application within one year, the application is deemed denied. If a Mills Act application is not approved by city council, the applicant must wait one calendar year before reapplying for a Mills Act contract again. Once a contract is signed, accepted, and recorded by the County Recorder, the property is  assessed under Article 1.9, section 439.2 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code on the ensuing lien date


The city or property owner may elect to not renew a contract at any time by serving a written notice of non-renewal in advance of the annual renewal date. The notice of non-renewal shall be effective only if served by the owner upon the city at least 90 days prior to the renewal date, or if served by the city upon the owner at least 60-days prior to the annual renewal date. If the city or owner serve a notice of non-renewal the contract will remain in effect for the balance of the remaining term (+/- 9 years). No penalty will result if a property owner elects not to renew a contract. 

Under rare circumstances, the city may cancel a Mills Act contract, or bring a lawsuit to enforce the contract. Notice and a public hearing are required to cancel a contract. To cancel a contract, the city must find during the public hearing that the owner has breached the conditions of the agreement. If the contract is cancelled, state law entitles the city to require a cancellation fee equal to 12 ½ percent of the property’s current fair market value as determined by the County Assessor.