Sunday, February 21, 2010

CalFirst in Livermore

LIVERMORE — City leaders Monday will consider signing up Livermore for a program that would help homeowners finance energy-efficiency improvements with no upfront costs and pay back the loans on their property taxes.

Under the CaliforniaFIRST program — a new initiative by a group called the California Statewide Communities Development Authority — bonds will be issued for residents to install environmentally friendly appliances such as solar panels and low-flow toilets, officials said.

Pleasanton and Dublin already have joined the program, which comes at a relatively low cost to participating cities but could substantially help lower emissions and conserve energy, officials said.

If the City Council approves the plan, Livermore would pay a one-time setup fee of $15,000 and would not be part of the financing process, said Livermore's principal planner Susan Frost.

"This is all voluntary (for residents)," Frost said. "It's just one option for financing those types of improvements to their homes."

Under the CaliforniaFIRST Program, residents could apply for loans of up to $75,000 to make clean-energy improvements to their homes. Loans, which would be added onto property taxes, would be repaid over a 5- to 20-year period, according to a fact sheet on the CaliforniaFIRST Program.

Also Monday, the council will also consider a plan to update the city's development code, which hasn't been updated since 1960.

The code doesn't emphasize design elements and is text-based without diagrams or illustrations, making it difficult to administer, according to staff reports.

The proposed updated code emphasizes detailed design standards north and south of downtown that will emphasize the area's unique historic character, the reports said.

A number of public hearings already have been held to gather input on the updates.

Contact Jeanine Benca at 925-847-2125.

WHAT: City Council meeting on energy-efficiency plan
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Livermore City Council Chamber, 3575 Pacific Ave., Livermore.

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