Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moving Forward on Sustainability through Home Improvement Financing

I am committed to helping build a more sustainable San Mateo for everyone. One of the biggest things we can all do as residents is work on ways to reduce our carbon footprint in our own homes.

At this Tuesday's meeting, I'm proud to support a resolution that will allow the City of San Mateo to join over 400 other local agencies throughout California in a pilot program that will encourage homeowners to retrofit and install renewable energy systems in their homes.

The program, known as CaliforniaFIRST, is a program created through partnership between the California League of Cities and the California State Association of Counties. CaliforniaFIRST will allow homeowner in San Mateo and other participating cities to finance renewable energy, energy efficiency and water efficiency improvements on their property.

The improvements by the homeowner will be financed by the issuance of bonds by California Communities, a joint power authority which will oversee CaliforniaFIRST. With this funding, homeowners will be able to pay back the improvements to their property through monthly assessments spread over 10-20 years.

The incentive to homeowners is clear. Instead of having to pay for solar roofing on our own, we homeowners in San Mateo will be able to apply for a contractual assessment through CaliforniaFIRST to get the money we need to install solar roofing, energy efficient lighting, or any other number of environmentally friendly upgrades to our property.

Obviously, our City is in no shape to take on new debt, and raising taxes to fund this type of program is not acceptable. That's the good news about this program. Through cooperation with other Cities and counties, the City of San Mateo will incur no costs to participate in this program. Even the $15,000 estimated to help with start up costs for the program will likely be paid for with Federal stimulus money being applied for by CaliforniaFIRST.

City staff on the Neighborhood Improvement & Housing Department have worked very hard in collaborating with CaliforniaFIRST, and have put together a comprehensive report which will be considered by the City Council this Tuesday, January 19, 2010. I encourage you all to read this report for yourself, and let myself or staff know of any comments or concerns you might have.

You can view the report by clicking HERE.

Overall, I think this is a great step forward in creating a more sustainable San Mateo and I hope you will join me in supporting this very important step forward.

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