What it really comes down to is the plaque.

The recognition is nice. The tax break isn’t so bad, either.
But the heart of the matter is that shiny plaque that says, essentially: “This is a Mills Act house.”
A state program enacted in 1972, the Mills Act gives cities the power to create historic preservation programs.
Anaheim officially began its program last year with 23 inaugural homes. The
Anaheim White House restaurant also has a plaque because it’s already on
the National Register of Historic Places.
This year adds another 23 homes.
Among them is Charlie and P.J. Chorbagian’s 1935 wing and gable house on
Pine Way.
The two Anaheim natives moved into the house with their son, Ryan, in 1994.
“It was kind of cool because it was a blank canvas,” P.J. Chorbagian, 49,
The Chorbagians had been looking for a historic house in Anaheim. They
were living in Fullerton but wanted to come back to their hometown.
“I really do love Anaheim,” said P.J. Chorbagian, whose mother graduated from Anaheim High School and whose father was an
Anaheim firefighter.
“There’s a lot of things I don’t love that happened but the thought of leaving here,” she added, unable to finish the sentence.
When they found the Von Waggoner house, they knew it was the house for them. A historic house in need of little work is a rarity
and the three-bedroom was a perfect fit.
Barbara Gonzalez – a resident of and a Realtor in the historic Colony district and a member of the city’s ad hoc historic
preservation committee – said the Mills Act raises Anaheim’s profile in the housing market.
“If I were to buy into a neighborhood and I knew that some of the neighbors already had a Mills Act, I knew that the
neighborhood would be better maintained,” she said. “They would be more attractive.”
To qualify for the Mills Act, homes must already be on the National Register of Historical Places or on the city’s list of qualified
historic structures and come in compliance with housing codes and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s standards.
If the home’s design standards meets those of the city and the federal government, the county assessor then determines the
value of the tax credit by using the estimated market rent of the property, minus expenses, and dividing that figure by a state-
set rate.
Mills Act homeowners can save up to 60 percent of their property taxes each year.
According to Anaheim officials, the program costs the city $6,000 a year in property taxes.
Named after Ray Van Waggoner, an Anaheim councilman from 1940 to 1958, the Chorbagians bought their 1,490-square-foot
home for $177,000 in 1994.
But the home’s history stretches beyond its connection to local politics.
The Chorbagians also collect all sorts of historic artifacts, including old television sets and radios.
The breakfast nook is an homage to old collectibles found at flea markets and the guest bedroom resembles something that
would be found in a museum.
Surrounding the house is a lush yard and garden – P.J. Chorbagian’s hobby.
“She does all the plants and stuff and I just mow the grass,” jokes Charlie Chorbagian, 52, whose own hobby has its own
historic flair: old cars.
So where do the Chorbagians plan to mount their plaque?
P.J. says she’s torn between a space next to the front door and another along a side wall. One thing’s for certain. It will be
prominently placed.
Maybe even with lights.