I guess we live too far on the edge of Lincoln Park. I received a couple of emails about a flyer that was being passed out in the district (but not on my street) warning residents of a new TAX that was going to be discussed at next Monday's city council meeting. The flyer is attributed to John Mendoza, who has run a series of petition drives for various subjects and was a candidate for School Board in the last election.
His scare flyer is wrong on many of the details, although to his credit he did include the notice for the issue.
Monday's meeting actually does include two items of importance to the residents of Lincoln Park as well as the other two districts, but it's NOT a new tax. The Mills Act was created as the main tool by the state to encourage owners of historic properties to renovate and maintain their property in a historically accurate manner. The Act allows property owners to enter into contracts with the city whereby the property will be taxed, not by the value of the property, but as if it were a rental business. This can result in tax savings of up to 60% depending on the assessed value of the property and the rental rates within the area.
In exchange for the property tax savings, the property owner agrees to use those savings to do an approved (within the contract) number of renovation projects. The idea is that this is a win-win as the property owner can use tax savings to improve the property and the city ensures that their historic properties are maintained in a historically accurate manner.
Pomona has had the Mills Act in place for some time. However, the original city version of the act was so restrictive that we only have three current contracts in the city. Pomona's Mills Act requirements were much more difficult than any of the surrounding cities. Pomona Heritage worked hard with city staff to review and revisit the act and to see how it could be improved to make it a better tool for historic Pomona.
The version of the Act that passed the Historic Preservation Commission will greatly enhance the way that Mills Act contracts are done in Pomona. Monday's meeting does have a twist that had not previously been discussed. Under the current Pomona version of the Act there is no fee. However state law allows cities to charge an application fee to recoup the costs of processing Mills contracts. The City Clerk has determined that cost to be around $2,400. Pomona Heritage is concerned that this upfront cost would be onerous, and hope to argue at Monday's meeting that the fee be more in line with other cities in the area whose fees range from nothing to under $500.
The other issue on Monday's agenda will be the use of alternative materials in the historic districts. This is an issue that was supposed to be discussed in the study sessions that were postponed and then canceled. So this will be the first opportunity that the council will have to hear this issue, and they're planning on voting on a policy.
If you're interested in either of these issues, we hope that you will be at the council meeting on Monday, April 21. Council meetings start at 7:00 pm in the council chambers at city hall.