New Opportunities to Improve San Lorenzo Valley Air Quality


By Bruce McPherson

Partnership with Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District

smokeI’m pleased to report that air quality in the San Lorenzo Valley and public safety were addressed during recent budget deliberations, with favorable outcomes.

First, the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD) approved a woodstove exchange program for San Lorenzo Valley, which gives residents discounts for installing cleaner alternatives to their current woodstoves. While the overall woodstove program was reduced from $123,000 to $72,500, this is the first time that all of the funds will be directed to projects in the San Lorenzo Valley, where pollution levels have exceeded national standards 98 days in the past three winters.

The MBUAPC Board or Directors also approved a yard waste drop-off program for San Lorenzo Valley in an effort to curb backyard burns. The free yard drop-off program, offered on certain weekends in the spring and fall, is gaining momentum as an alternative to open burns.
I had advocated for continued funding for both programs and was pleased that the MBUAPCD is continuing their support for programs to improve air quality in San Lorenzo Valley.

The County Board of Supervisors also approved a program last week that will give residents the option of financing green energy improvements on their property taxes.

At the request of Supervisor Neal Coonerty and myself, the Board voted to join the California HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) Program. The program allows property owners of the unincorporated county to finance renewable energy and energy and water efficiency improvements on their property taxes. Residents will also be able to purchase efficient wood burning stoves. This gives us another opportunity to deal with air pollution from old wood stoves.

Communities across California offer the HERO Program to eligible property owners for energy efficient upgrades and improvements such as solar, HVAC, windows, roofing, water savings products, and more. HERO provides financing to make energy and water-efficiency renovations affordable for homeowners by providing long-term, competitive financing through an assessment on their property tax bill. It is 100% voluntary and is made available through a partnership with public agencies and 100% private investment at no cost to participating jurisdictions.

Property owners who wish to participate agree to repay the amount borrowed through the voluntary contractual assessment together with their property taxes. The financing is available for eligible improvements on both residential and non-residential properties. It is estimated that the program will be available in about six months when the legal and contractual steps are completed, after which the County will announce the availability of the program.