Environment, Parks, Libraries

Strengthening PACE Financing
to Benefit Californians

California has long been an engine of American innovation, developing new products, services and media that create enormous value locally and across the world. Yet, even by the standards of our inventive state, the home-grown PACE financing industry has produced incredibly positive results.

Pioneered here in the Golden State, Property Assessed Clean Energy financing – or PACE –empowers homeowners to finance the full cost of certain clean energy, water and energy efficiency, and earthquake-resistance upgrades to their homes through repayment over time as a line item on their property tax bill.

To date, hundreds of thousands of Americans have seen this as a win-win, allowing for cost-effective improvements that green the environment. Just in LA County alone, the environmental and economic benefits from the PACE program have far exceeded expectations:

  • PACE has cut water consumption in LA County by more than 13 million gallons each year [1], enough water for more than 762,000 showers [2].
  • PACE has reduced LA County’s need for fossil fuels by more than 105 million kWh of energy each year [3], combining solar generation with efficiency measures. Over the lifetime of these improvements, that is equivalent to taking more than 10,000 cars off the road [4].
  • PACE has also created jobs: Since the program’s launch, by driving $486 million in economic activity, PACE has created more than 4,800 jobs in Los Angeles County – jobs that pay well and can never be outsourced [5].

To ensure that PACE financing remains a force for good in our communities, state policy makers should now strengthen consumer protections. Addressing this need is State Senator Nancy Skinner’s Senate Bill 242 (SB 242) and State Assemblymember Matt Dababneh’s Assembly Bill 1284 (AB 1284).

SB 242 establishes important statewide consumer projects to govern the PACE Program throughout the financing process. First, before the homeowner completes the PACE financing process, SB 242 will require PACE administrators to call every single PACE financing applicant to confirm the terms of financing– avoiding possible misunderstandings as to how and when repayment will occur. This live, recorded phone call is in addition to a written disclosure of the property owner’s PACE financing terms that every applicant must review and sign. And even if the homeowner reviews all this information, applies for PACE, and then has a change of heart, they remain securely protected: SB 242 requires a 3-day right to cancel.

SB 242 also makes it illegal for PACE program administrators to pay financial “kickbacks” or other marketing incentives to contractors to push their PACE program. And it makes it illegal for PACE program administrators to pay financial incentives to homeowners.

AB 1284 further builds on PACE consumer protections by establishing the Department of Business Oversight as the regulatory authority over PACE program administrators and their contractors.  Specifically, PACE Administrators would be licensed by the Department of Business Oversight who would have authority to bring enforcement actions against PACE Administrators and anyone soliciting a property owner for a PACE project.  The Commissioner would have fairly broad power to conduct investigations, assess fines, and suspend licenses.  Perhaps most importantly, AB 1284 would allow the Department of Business Oversight to develop an “ability-to-repay” determination for incorporation into the loan underwriting process.

With the standards included in SB 242 and AB 1284, the PACE industry is positioned to expand in a responsible and consumer-focused manner.  The Legislature should support SB 242 and AB 1284 to help keep California working, growing and innovating by supporting PACE financing.

[1] http://treasurer.ca.gov/caeatfa/pace/activity.asp

[2] Per EPA WaterSense: 18 gallons per average shower

[3] http://treasurer.ca.gov/caeatfa/pace/activity.asp

[4] https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

[5] Information provided by PACE administrators

Role of Citizens in Governance

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The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a set of recommendations to enhance the efficiency and accountability of Citizen Advisory Boards.

“Citizen Advisory Boards encourage public participation in the governance of Los Angeles County, providing us with advice and recommendations about policies and services,” Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “These recommendations will ensure the voice of the people is heard.”

Role of Citizens in Governance Slides

Day of Remembrance

Day of Remembrance photo

The Board of Supervisors present a scroll commemorating the Day of Remembrance to leaders of the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Saying no community should be singled out for violations of constitutional and human rights, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed February 19, 2017, as a Day of Remembrance to mark the 75th anniversary of a presidential decree that authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, forced more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent – including children and the elderly – from their homes and businesses and incarcerated them without charge or trial under the pretext of national security. None were ever found to have committed sabotage or espionage.

“We should never forget this dark period in our nation’s history,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, principal author of the motion, said. “The civil liberties of the County’s most vulnerable communities continue to require vigilant protection from infringement justified by national security.”

“We cannot forget the injustice that Japanese-Americans endured at the hands of our government during World War II,” the motion’s co-author, Supervisor Janice Hahn, added. “While we can never take back what victims went through in the internment camps, we can tell their stories and pledge that this will never again happen in the United States of America.”

About a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Board at the time adopted a resolution urging the federal government to remove Los Angeles County residents of Japanese ancestry from their homes and hold them, involuntarily, in remote areas. The motion passed on January 27, 1942, as federal and state officials were weighing the merits and legality of detaining West Coast residents without criminal charges. Executive Order 9066 was issued two weeks later.

The violations inspired three generations of Japanese-American leaders and families across the nation to seek redress, which resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing for a government apology and reparations for over 82,000 survivors.

On June 6, 2012, the Board rescinded and revoked its previous resolution endorsing the internment of Japanese-Americans. The historic action followed testimony from those who had been held captive or their relatives.

In declaring a Day of Remembrance, the Board emphasized that “no community (should) suffer such violations of constitutional and human rights.” It also encouraged County employees to voluntarily participate in Day of Remembrance events to be held through October, as listed on the websites of the
Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute; the Japanese American National Museum; and the Japanese American Citizens League.

“Even after 75 years, we choose to remember and commemorate this event because we believe that what happened to the countless number of people during World War II – when many were Americans – is something no one should have had to go through,” said Nicole Sato, program coordinator of the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute. “We believe by continuing to teach the next generations, we can educate those to come that something like the Japanese American incarceration cannot not be tolerated.”

“In the light of todays’ events happening around the world and in our country, we believe even stronger that what happened to the Japanese American community 75 years ago should not happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or religion. Civil liberties should not be taken away or denied to anyone by Executive Orders or such actions,” she added. “We should be celebrating and accepting our differences, cultures, heritages, and traditions – not letting it divide us.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “We should take stock of our moment in time right now, with respect to others who are under the hammer of unconstitutional behavior. I did say it, I meant it, and I will not retract it.”

He presented a scroll to the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute for its work to educate and inform the community of this dark period in the nation’s history. On February 25, the institute will host a panel of former internees who will share their experiences of life at the camp in Tule Lake. On April 15, it will host an exhibit showcasing artwork that depicts life in the internment camps.

Generations of Leadership Celebrated at Kenneth Hahn Park

Photos by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

A new visitor center is open at Kenneth Hahn Park. The center, which pays tribute to the late Kenneth Hahn, examines the legacy, leadership, and life of public service of one of the longest serving members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

A video posted by Leroy Hamilton (@photoham) on

“We look into the past and use that as inspiration to celebrate our collective future,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

img_0178Chairman Ridley-Thomas invited Supervisor Janice Hahn, former Mayor and now Los Angeles County Judge James Hahn, and California Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas recently for a tour of the new center. The center showcases Supervisor Kenneth Hahn’s meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1961. Hahn was the only public official to greet Martin Luther King Jr. when he came to Los Angeles after confronting the police dogs and water hoses of Birmingham. It also showcases his work on the Los Angeles City Council (1947 to 1952), and his 40 years of service as Los Angeles County Supervisor (1952 to 1992). The exhibit reflects the depth of work done over Hahn’s career from advocating for enhanced parklands across the district, to bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles, and ensuring that call boxes were added to major highways.

“We remember when this was just the oil fields up here and our dad’s dream to turn this into a wonderful recreational facility,” said Judge Hahn.

The Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority, Chaired by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, provided $1.3M in funding to the Department of Parks and Recreation to transform the community center into a state of the art visitor center.  Hunt Design was hired to develop exhibits to  showcase Kenneth Hahn’s legacy, and tell the history of the Baldwin Hills and various amenities at the park. ‎

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“My grandchildren and my daughter-in-law right now are swinging on the swing set in the park,” said Supervisor Hahn. “To see our father’s legacy displayed in such a beautiful 21st century manner is incredible – a mini-presidential library in the second district. Nothing made my dad happier than seeing people using this park.”

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, includes large areas of native coastal sage scrub habitat, lawns and landscaped areas, picnic sites, tot lots, fishing lake, lotus pond, community center and five miles of trails. One of the most actively used features is the park’s variety of footpaths and trails.

Other recreational improvements in the surrounding area include the Park to Playa Trail which will soon connect the Baldwin Hills Parklands to the Pacific Ocean and the Stoneview Nature Center which will be completed later this year.

The visitor center is now open to the public from 8:30-4:30 daily.

Growing Green Communities

There’s something growing in the Athens and Westmont neighborhoods. Take a look at a new greening initiative that’s taking root, one tree at a time.