Facts & Myths About Historic Designation

Facts and Myths 2017-06-27T12:03:14+00:00

The Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places is Hawai‘i’s official list of districts, sites, structures, buildings, and objects that are significant at either the national, state, or local level in the areas of history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or cultural heritage. On this list, vastly different types of resources are represented from culturally significant Native Hawaiian sites, to an outrigger canoe, residential properties, plantation era communities, and the only palace in the United States. These sites together represent the broad range of historic resources important to the history of Hawai‘i.

Recognition for Historic Resources
Listing honors a residence by recognizing its importance to its community, state, or the Nation and by deeming it to be worthy of preservation.

Planning and Permit Review
The State Historic Preservation Division must be given the opportunity to review and comment on any permits that affect properties that are listed on the Register of Historic Places (HRS 6E-10). SHPD must also be given the opportunity to review and comment on any non-residential property that is over 50 years old, whether or not it is listed on the register (HRS 6E-42). However, single-family detached dwelling units and townhouses are excluded from the SHPD review if they are not listed on the historic register (HRS 42.2).

Under state law 6E-10, SHPD has ninety days to conduct this review if a residence is listed on the Hawaii Register. Under state law 6E-42, SHPD has thirty days to carry out this review if a non-single-family dwelling unit/town house property is older than fifty years and not listed on the Register.

Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits
This federal program is applicable for income-producing historic properties. The Federal Rehabilitation tax credit for 20% of the rehabilitation costs is for properties listed on the National Register (not the State Register). However, a credit of 10% of the cost of rehabilitating any historic structure is available regardless of listing on the register if it was built before 1936. More information on the Federal tax rehabilitation tax credit program is available through the NPS at http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/tax/index.htm

County Tax Incentives
Hawaii’s four County governments, Honolulu, Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i, offer a property tax exemption from real property taxation for portions of residential properties listed on the Hawai‘i Register. City & County of Honolulu also offers a property tax reduction for historic commercial properties.

Section 106 Review
For projects involving any federal action (federal funding, personnel, etc.) A Federal review is required by the National Historic Preservation Act (36 CFR, Part 800 Protection of Historic Properties), which is known as a Section 106 review. Being listed on the Hawaii Register means that these historic residences will be considered in the planning stages of government-funded projects.

Common Misconceptions and Falsehoods:

Federal, state, or local governments do not assume any property rights in the residence as a result of listing. Being listed on the Register does not restrict the rights of private property owners in the use, development, or sale of private historic property.
Owners of private residences listed on the Hawai‘i Register have no obligation to open their properties to the public. If they take a County property tax exemption for a listed residence, however, one of the conditions they agree to is that the public be assured a reasonable view of the property. The County requires this public benefit in exchange for the financial benefit it gives to the owner. “A reasonable view”, does not include entering onto the property.
Private property owners are not required to maintain, repair, or restore properties listed on the Hawaii Register. They may make changes to their historic homes, but must allow the SHPD an opportunity to review and comment. This is to ensure the appropriateness of the alteration. It is possible that inappropriate alterations could cause a historic residence to be removed from the Register, and an owner risks losing property tax benefits previously claimed.
Unfortunately, it is not true that there are large sums of money available to assist owners and local agencies in rehabilitating residential properties that are listed on the Hawaii Register.