TEN BENEFITS OF RESIDENTIAL HISTORIC DISTRICTS
Historic districts preserve for future generations the fine homes that draw people to the community. Historic districts preserve the architectural detailing, high-quality materials, craftsmanship, historic character and charm that most home buyers seek in historic neighborhoods.
Historic districts protect the architectural and cultural heritage of our communities. A disturbing trend known as ‘tear-downs’ has spread across America’s older neighborhoods. As fine historic homes and surrounding heritage landscape are reduced to rubble to make way for larger new houses, the architectural and cultural heritage of our communities is eroded and forever changed. The often out-of-scale replacements do not fit well in historic neighborhoods and threaten the very qualities that make these neighborhoods attractive and desirable.
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Historic districts encourage better quality design and respectful rehabilitation. Better design means a greater sense of cohesiveness with the surrounding neighborhood and greater public appeal.
Historic district design standards provide helpful guidance for homeowners. Design standards assist homeowners to "rehab right" - to remodel, update and expand their homes while respectfully retaining the homes’ historic character. Design standards provide certainty and encourage responsible stewardship with long lasting benefits for the homeowner, neighborhood and community.
State and Federal Policies Encourage Historic Preservation. Properties within local historic districts may qualify for reduced property taxes under California’s Mills Act. Typically, property owners can expect a 20% to 70% savings on their property taxes. The State budget includes $50 million in tax credits for historic preservation projects.
Local historic districts protect the investments of owners and residents of historic properties. Insensitive or poorly planned development can make an area less attractive to investors and homebuyers, and thus undermine property value. In contrast, historic district designation encourages people to "rehab right" because they know their investment is protected over time.
Properties within local historic districts appreciate at rates greater than the local market overall as well as faster than similar, non-designated neighborhoods. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, these findings are consistent across the country.
Local historic districts are energy-efficient. Many older buildings were designed with energy conservation in mind, taking advantage of natural light, cross-ventilation, and climate-appropriate materials. Design standards now make it easier for historic building owners to use renewable-energy technologies.
Local historic districts provide social and psychological benefits. People living in historic districts enjoy the comfort of a human-scale environment and the opportunity to live and work in attractive surroundings; a recognizable and walkable neighborhood; and the galvanizing effect of community-based group action.
Historic districts are a tangible link to the past and a way to bring meaning to history and to people’s lives. Historic districts preserve the original character of buildings and streets, while welcoming growth and innovation. They are a living, active record of communities and their residents. By participating in the designation process, citizens can help direct their communities’ path and and ensure their neighborhood’s future.
"But part of what we're preserving here is also history. It's also understanding that places that look ordinary are nothing but extraordinary. The places you live are extraordinary, which means you can be extraordinary."
- Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States