this is in response to a conversation thread on the Central City Discuss 9/7/2008

There is the City Register of Historic Places and the State/National Register of Historic Places (these are technically different though if a property is listed on the National Register it is automatically listed on the State Register).  As someone in the thread pointed out if you are on the City Register you are eligible for their grant program.  If you are on the National Register then you are eligible for the State Property Tax program which gives an approximately 50% reduction in property taxes. 

Here's where it gets a bit complex:
The City and the State work a bit differently.  The City has a historic zoning overlay meaning any property within that zone falls under the purview of this ordinance.  So even if your house was built last week you are still under the City's preservation ordinance.  The National Register has contributors and non-contributors.  In the above example, the house built last week would be a non-contributor.  Contributing properties (there are some 850 contributors in Coronado) may be eligible for the tax program.  I use the phrase MAY BE ELIGIBLE because 1) it has to be a non-income producing; 2) our office, the State Historic Preservation Office, has to verify that it is still a contributing property.

1) Non-income producing means no rentals.  Winter homes are OK. Some relative (or friend or even Kato Kaelin) living there for free is OK.  A non-profit is OK (Wrigley's Mansion is a non-profit and qualifies for the program). But if you're renting it, it does not qualify.  Why?  It's due to the statutes that govern the program.

2) The second part was that our office needs to determine that it is still a contributing property.  The Coronado District was listed in 1986.  A lot can happen in 20 years.  Our office needs to make sure that the house can still be considered a contributor to the district.  I drive through Coronado nearly everyday on my way home from work.  Most of those properties are still contributors and only about a 1/3 of the contributing properties are in the tax program. 

The main reason people don't join the tax program is fear that the government will control your home.  In truth when you join the program you're agreeing to keep your property historic.  However, you're already under a zoning ordinance where you have to do that anyway.  So there's really no disadvantage to joining the program.  If you're putting on an addition, for example, you'll go through design review with the City.  Properties in the tax program would need to submit a copy of the plans to us as well.  95% of the time the State agrees with the City.  I advise people to go through the City first as we are usually more liberal than the city is. 

You can find more information about the program and applications HERE.

I just went back over the thread to see if I missed any questions. Here's what I found:

The County Assessor's Office will not go back and credit back taxes for years prior to joining the program.
The property must be on the National Register - meaning a contributing property to the Coronado Historic District.
The tax program is not automatic.  It must be applied for by the owners.

If you have any more questions let me know.