Dear Historic Property Owner:   Newsletter #85                                                             July 7, 2011

If you are new to historic property ownership (or these newsletters) you need to know that you have a friend and professional resource to help you enjoy, restore and benefit by owning a historic property.  Beacon Brokerage has specialized in serving historic property owners in San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano for 14 years.  I have experience with every aspect of historic properties. I love this work!

The tax benefits for future “Mills Act” Historic Property Preservation Agreements in San Clemente are at risk. On July 20th at 7 pm at City Hall, 100 Avenida Presidio, the Planning Commission will hear from the City staff proposals for major changes to the City’s policy that will affect future Historic Property Preservation Agreements (HPPAs).  In brief, the staff will propose:

1.   Instead of limiting restoration requirements to the exterior of the property (i.e., what is seen from the street), the City would require that “Interior remodeling shall retain original features”.   These are hard to define but could include fireplaces, archways, ceilings, original flooring, stair rails, lighting fixtures, and walls.  This means the new Agreements would require inspections of home interiors as well as exteriors.

2.   Any new Historic Property Preservation Agreement would require that all electrical, plumbing, heating and structural support systems be brought up to current building codes.

3.   Exterior work would be subject to city approval including painting, landscape or hardscape alterations, even tree removal.  The new policy would prohibit “any device, decoration, structure or vegetation that is incompatible with the property’s historic character”.  These are not defined but could include yard décor, mailboxes, art, plants, etc. 

4.   All property tax savings would be required to be spent on the “maintenance and improvements” that are identified in the HPPA.  The City would track each owner’s expenses against the tax savings year after year. 

If the City adopts these proposals there will be one standard for the 65 existing HPPA properties and a different one for the remaining 140 properties.  As a professional Realtor promoting and lovingly restoring historic properties for 14 years, I am concerned that if the City changes the policy this dramatically, the effect will be to kill interest in Historic Property Preservation Agreements.  Without this benefit, the historic property owners will have to bear the full financial cost of maintaining these historic treasures, market values will be reduced significantly and some properties may even fall into disrepair. 

At my request, the City held a “public meeting” on June 23rd .  However, many owners were not aware of the meeting.  Only 10 properties were represented.  The City also sent a survey to historic property owners.  However, the survey did not explain the proposals or give specific options to allow owners to identify their preferences or ideas.  

To help save San Clemente’s historic charm and protect owner’s property rights, please send emails to and attend the meeting on July 20th.  Write to for more on this.

I am always happy to discuss home restoration, tax savings, or market values of historic properties with you.  Please call me when you think about selling your historic property (if it’s not already listed) to be sure that you are dealing with the specialist in this field.  Thank you.

Historically yours,

     Dena Van Slyke, your historic property specialist since 1997


Senior’s Real Estate Specialist

243 Avenida La Cuesta, San Clemente, CA 92672

Phone: (949) 361-4663     Fax: (949) 361-3678     Email:   Website: License #: 00705070