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Local Government Assistance

OHP promotes a comprehensive approach to historic preservation at the local level which

  • Is based on federal and state standards for identification, evaluation, registration, and treatment of historical resources;
  • Integrates preservation planning into the broader context of overall community land use planning and development processes;
  • Is responsive to the particular needs and resources of each community;
  • Provides economic incentives for historic preservation;
  • Benefits from informed public participation.

OHP’s Local Government and Environmental Compliance Unit offers guidance and assistance to city and county governments in the following areas:

  • Drafting or updating historic preservation plans and ordinances
  • Developing historic context statements
  • Planning for and conducting architectural, historical, and archeological surveys
  • Developing criteria for local designation programs, historic districts, historic preservation overlay zones (HPOZs), and conservation districts
  • Developing and implementing design guidelines using the Secretary of the Interior's Standards
  • Developing economic incentives for historic preservation
  • Training local historic preservation commissions and review boards
  • Meeting CEQA responsibilities with regard to historical resources

OHP also administers the Certified Local Government Program (CLG).  OHP distributes at least 10% of its annual federal Historic Preservation Fund allocation to CLGs through a competitive grant program to assist CLGs in preservation planning activities.


The Mills Act Property Tax Abatement Program is the single most important preservation incentive program in California. Mills Act contracts are between the property owner and the local government granting the tax abatement. Each jurisdiction individually determines the criteria and requirements for participation. Not all local governments participate in the Mills Act Program. Questions regarding the specific terms of Mills Act contracts should be addressed to the local government within whose jurisdiction the property is located.


Historic resources are important community assets.
• They provide tangible links to the community's historical and cultural heritage.
• They help create each community’s special character and identity.
• They represent investments in energy, time, money, and raw materials.
• The maintenance, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse of older buildings creates economic benefits locally and are sustainable and green practices.

Wise assets management involves
• Respecting their value
• Prolonging their life
• Effectively using them to derive multiple benefits
• Acting in a stewardship role