October 15, 2010

Was it a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?

A few days ago I wrote the post entitled "Where the hell have you been?". In one of the photographs is a mysterious lady visiting the second floor, and I said you have to wait to find out who it is... "All in good time my pretty's, all in good time!"

It seems though that it wasn't a witch at all, or perhaps it was the Good Witch of Santa Rosa's Press Democrat, Meg McConahey.

Meg was visiting with us for the second time, a follow-up story (one year later). We hope to be visited by this strange apparition from the land of Santa Rosa again next year with hopes of "pretty house" things to show her.

Read the story by clicking HERE

October 14, 2010

Healdsburg City Council - Phooey!

Howdy folks! Today its time for a zing...

I have been ignored, and this has really ruffled my feathers. Two weeks ago I wrote via email to each and every city council member, including Mayor Jim Wood regarding a little known program in the state of California called the Mills Act. The Mills Act in a nutshell is a property tax abatement program for owners of qualifying historic homes, allowing up to sixty percent savings in property tax to the home owner providing the money is invested in the homes restoration and revitalization. For more information I have posted some of the information direct from the States website below, along with a link to the this information and more.

We are of course the poster children for the Mills Act in this city, and would gain from its adoption, as would many others. In this tough economic climate it is difficult for for people to put out the cash to improve or even upkeep their historic homes. The Mills Act provides a means for improving the visual aspect of our tourist driven wine country environment, setting the stage of the dream and painting our environment with beauty.

But that is not actually the reason for this post. This post is about reaching out to the city council members. Introducing myself and Phillip to them. Inviting them to visit the blog to see what we are doing. Asking them to please take a moment and look at the information on the State of California website to familiarize themselves with the Mills Act if they had not been aware of it before. Inviting each and everyone of them to share their thoughts on the Mills Act with me, the advantages and the disadvantages. An invitation to even say hey.

Well guess how many responses I have received from our very own City of Healdsburg Government... 

Sorry, I just thought this one was cute!

That's right folks... after two weeks not a single council member took the time to even jot a note back.
Too busy I suppose, but they sure are never to busy to shake my hand, and make sure I vote for them...


From the California State Website

Q:  What is the Mills Act Program?
A:  Economic incentives foster the preservation of residential neighborhoods and the revitalization of downtown commercial districts. The Mills Act is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners. Enacted in 1972, the Mills Act legislation grants participating local governments (cities and counties) the authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their historic properties while receiving property tax relief.
Q:  How does the Mills Act benefit Local Governments?A;  The Mills Act allows local governments to design preservation programs to accommodate specific community needs and priorities for rehabilitating entire neighborhoods, encouraging seismic safety programs, contributing to affordable housing, promoting heritage tourism, or fostering pride of ownership. Local governments have adopted the Mills Act because they recognize the economic benefits of conserving resources and reinvestment as well as the important role historic preservation can play in revitalizing older areas, creating cultural tourism, building civic pride, and retaining the sense of place and continuity with the community’s past.

A formal agreement, generally known as a Mills Act or Historical Property Contract, is executed between the local government and the property owner for a minimum ten-year term. Contracts are automatically renewed each year and are transferred to new owners when the property is sold. Property owners agree to restore, maintain, and protect the property in accordance with specific historic preservation standards and conditions identified in the contract. Periodic inspections by city or county officials ensure proper maintenance of the property. Local authorities may impose penalties for breach of contract or failure to protect the historic property. The contract is binding to all owners during the contract period.
Q: How does the Mills Act benefit Owners of Historical Properties?

A: Owners of historic buildings may qualify for property tax relief if they pledge to rehabilitate and maintain the historical and architectural character of their properties for at least a ten-year period. The Mills Act program is especially beneficial for recent buyers of historic properties and for current owners of historic buildings who have made major improvements to their properties.

Mills Act participants may realize substantial property tax savings of between 40% and 60% each year for newly improved or purchased older properties because valuations of Mills Act properties are determined by the Income Approach to Value rather than by the standard Market Approach to Value. The income approach, divided by a capitalization rate, determines the assessed value of the property. In general, the income of an owner-occupied property is based on comparable rents for similar properties in the area, while the income amount on a commercial property is based on actual rent received. Because rental values vary from area to area, actual property savings vary from county to county. In addition, as County Assessors are required to assess all properties annually, Mills Act properties may realize slight increases in property taxes each year.

Q: Where can I get more information?


October 13, 2010

Where the hell have you been?

You all know that I like to write with a twist, a funny bone tickler, or a zing at someone or something. Well it's been a bit ho hum around the old house lately. Hotter than hell, guess summer decided to visit us late this year, and we have been sweating our way through the master bedroom and bathroom. Not that exciting things have not been happening, but they are small step moments that are really only exciting to us... take for instance.

* News Flash *
another bathtub on the move at 227 north street

Four grown men, a rather expensive "come-along", and sheets of plywood screwed to the stairs, all mixed together to welcome the master bathroom bathtub on its journey from the first floor to the second. At least 300 pounds of cast iron found its way slowly and carefully up the front stairs.

Wasn't that exciting? Did you hold onto the edge of your seat? It has been weeks of very similar types of projects that are moving us forward, but they are not necessarily great writing material nor very pretty to look at. But nonetheless (I love a word that is a sentence all at the same time) we have been working hard everyday late into the evening.

A secret visitor to the second floor... all in good time my pretties, all in good time!

Phillip screwing away (hee hee I said "screwing")

We are finally sealed from the elements. The master bedroom doors are hung, and boarded shut, as there is a twenty one foot drop outside of them.

Every day a little further and the days are growing shorter. but carry on we will, installing drywall and learning to plaster in the dark. We are focused only on the new spaces of the house with great hopes of moving in sometime during the holidays. Keep your fingers crossed!