Certified Local Historic District: What is it and why you should consider it.

By Lilly Bianco, Assistant Planner + Preservation Specialist at M-Group

There are National Historic Districts; State Historic Districts; and Local Historic Districts; and then, there are “Certified Local (or State) Districts."

Certified Local Districts (CLDs) are historic districts that are deemed by the Secretary of the Interior as effectively meeting all requirements for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but this comes with the caveat that they are not actually listed on the National Register. Under the CLD Program, contributing, depreciable properties within the boundaries of the district may pursue federal rehabilitation tax incentives otherwise reserved for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places or within a National Register District*. The certification in this case is solely for the purpose of the tax incentive.

South End Historic District, SF. Image Courtesy of CA OHP. 

South End Historic District, SF. Image Courtesy of CA OHP. 

Because the process does not go so far as to list the district on the National Register, the certification process is somewhat streamlined. While the district must be documented in accordance with National Register Bulletin 14 this type of district does not require owner consent, nor does it require review by the State Historic Preservation Commission. The City is required to draft (or have an existing) Historic Preservation Ordinance that outlines a method for designation of properties or districts which must then be certified by the National Park Service. Once a CLD is in place, support and review of tax credit projects is done through the Architectural Review Unit of the California OHP.

At present there are approximately twelve CLDs in California and clearly a lot of potential for more. This program opens up the opportunity to obtain much needed funding and kick start preservation and rehabilitation efforts. The rehabilitation of historic buildings in CLDs will improve and maintain property values, employ local craftsman, and reinforce the unique sense of place. This program offers valuable long term impacts and warrants much more consideration than it has yet received.

For more information on the certification process and eligibility criteria see the following:

  • http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27283
  • http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/before-apply/eligibility-requirements.htm
  • http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1054/files/preservationmatters_2014_vol7_issue1.pdf (Page 12)

* Note that eligibility for Federal tax incentives require that the building be income-producing for at least 5 years following any rehabilitation work.