Mills Act In Coronado

Last week Coronado City Councilwoman, Barbara Denny, hosted a meeting at the Coronado Public Library where Andrew Narwold (USD Professor) shared his economic study on how the Mills Act for Historic Preservation enhances property values. I attended the meeting along with others from SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organization.)

Those of us in attendance listened attentively while Professor Narwold presented some interesting points. One example: “For each additional historically designated house located within 250 feet of the sold house [in zip codes 92103 and 92104], you can expect a sales price to increase an average of about $30,000.”

A resident Admiral challenged the conclusions of Professor Narwold’s thesis, doubting it could be proven through an analysis of Coronado home sales. The Admiral insisted that the historic status of Coronado properties does nothing to increase the value of Coronado real estate. No one offered to accept his challenge.

Another Coronado resident hesitantly and emotionally spoke against the historic preservation efforts that forced her to sell her property on Orange Avenue at a discounted price due to the Coronado restriction on development of properties more than 75 years old. She explained her despair that as an owner of private property, she was deprived of the opportunity to develop her property by a city requirement to preserve “beach shacks.” She reminded the group buy cheap valium that Coronado started as a “tent city” and that there were many humble houses built for vacation use only. While some historic restoration supporters spoke passionately about the need to retain the architectural fabric of a neighborhood, I doubt that anyone was unsympathetic to her situation.

The most distinguished person in attendance was Senator James Mills, a Coronado resident for whom the Mills Act was named in 1972. His courtly demeanor certainly explained why he was an effective legislator and a strong consensus builder while president of the California State Senate. As an observer at this meeting, he quietly allowed Professor Narwold to develop his point of view. He did make an incisive correction when a participant falsely pronounced that, “Once a house is under Mills Act, it can never change.” Senator Mills explained that, “You can buy your way out of a Mills Act designation,” and he proceeded to outline how one would go about it.

My attendance at the meeting proved one thing: wherever it takes place, a meeting that discusses historic preservation will evoke strong emotions, intelligently considered opinions and much food for thought. Even the quiet, idyllic island of Coronado served as a stage for spirited sharing of opinions among neighbors.

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