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What to Know about Owning a Home in Old Escondido




  1. You decide to work on the exterior of your home

  2. Do your research to determine if the work will maintain the historical integrity of your home. 

  3. Download an application form for a Certificate of Appropriateness

  4. Follow all instructions to complete the form.  Include photographs and all related information

  5. Turn in the application to the Planning Department on the first floor at City Hall

  6. Do NOT begin work until you receive your Certificate of Appropriateness

  7. POST your Certificate of Appropriateness in a visible location per the instructions.

  8. NOW you can get to work!


Congratulations if you've chosen to live in Old Escondido, an exceptional neighborhood and north San Diego County's only residential Historic District!  The Old Escondido Historic District is a unique and charming place to live.  Visitors enjoy walking in our neighborhood for exercise and often express a desire to live here, too.

Thinking of Making Changes to Your Home's Exterior?


Our Old Escondido homes are special to everyone and their historic integrity is what makes our Historic District a cherished place to live. If you own a home located within the Old Escondido Historic District, you need to contact the City’s Planning Division before you start any exterior home improvement project – even if you do not consider your home to be historic or if it’s not on the City’s Local Register. 


You will need to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness if you plan to:

  1. Paint the exterior - even the same  color

  2. Replace the roof

  3. Change your windows

  4. Build a garage or carport

  5. Build a fence

  6. Construct a room addition

  7. Build or change a front porch

  8. Replace a front door


Larger modification projects will be reviewed by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission to ensure the historic character of your home remains intact.


Design Guidelines, which explain what is and is not appropriate within the Historic District, can be accessed by clicking here.

If you purchase a home that has an existing Mills Act Contract, you can get an application form from the Planning Division to revise the list of improvements to better fit your goals for preserving the property.


If you do not get and post a Certificate of Appropriateness, a stop work order can be instituted, further work can be delayed and/or costly penalties may be charged.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the City of Escondido Planning Division at (760) 839-4671. 

Confused About the Mills Act?


The question often arises, whether or not grants are available to help pay for repairs and maintenance of our historic homes.  Rather than a one-time allotment of funds, Escondido's Mills Act program allows homeowners of qualifying historic homes to save a significant amount of money on their property taxes, year after year.  This money is intended to be re-invested in their homes if homeowners agree to make specified, agreed-upon repairs and to maintain their homes for the duration of the contract.  


Also, a Mills Act contract stays with the property even after it's sold, so it's a definite benefit to a buyer. If you have purchased a home in Old Escondido, it may have a Mills Act contract in place.  Check with the City Planning Dept. to determine whether or not you have one in place and what steps you should take next.


A common myth is that the Mills Act imposes restrictions on what a homeowner can do with his historic home.  The bottom line is, whether a home within the boundaries of the Old Escondido Historic District is on the Mills Act or not, a Certificate of Appropriateness is needed if exterior changes are being made. In other words, the requirements for exterior alterations are the same; the Mills Act, if you can qualify, simply makes it possible to save money to make maintaining a home more affordable.

Review our presentation on The Mills Act Process.


If you would like to learn more about the Mills Act, click here.

Old Windows are the Best!

Please don’t be fooled by the sales pitches you are hearing about replacement windows; they can be far more expensive in the long run than you can imagine.  The windows in historic homes (50 years old or older) in Old Escondido are most likely repairable if they are malfunctioning or don’t seem to be energy efficient. Replacing windows, like painting and any other exterior modifications is NOT allowed without a Certificate of Appropriateness. You MUST ALSO GET A BUILDING PERMIT TO CHANGE OUT WINDOWS IN OLD ESCONDIDO.

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