Loans easy now for Californias |

Loans easy now for Californias

by Andy Bourelle

Can’t afford to pay for your Best Management Practices?

For residents who are going to have to get a loan to pay for their BMPs, now is a good time to do it – at least for California residents.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board have access to millions of dollars from the California State Revolving Fund. Low-interest loans are available to residents and businesses wishing to comply with TRPA’s Best Management Practices. Work that would result in improving water quality within the Lake Tahoe Basin qualifies.

“I can qualify almost anything,” said Doug Smith, TRPA specialist in charge of the BMP retrofit program. “Not a roof or a new window or door; but anything to do with landscaping, revegetation, paving a driveway. Anything to do with improving your property – from water conservation to water-quality improvements. Planting native vegetation. Erosion control stuff.”

The loans, through Bank of America, are 3 percentage points lower than the rate the loan normally would have been. They are available for up to 20 years. If a resident has other work that needs to be done in addition to BMP upgrades, he or she can receive a “blended” interest rate. One negative side, property owners might see, is that the loan recipients must incur the costs first. Property owners can complete the work in stages and get reimbursed for each phase. The reason for that is to ensure people use the money for BMP upgrades – not paying off their credit cards or something like that.

“I think it’s a valuable tool,” Smith said. “It’s something that, in my opinion, shows the state’s willingness to help.”

The program started in September 1998, and, because it is new, there haven’t been that many people to take advantage of it yet.

“The loan program is going fine. We haven’t had a flood of users because of the snow,” Smith said. “I anticipate a lot more this summer.”

When the loan program started, TRPA was handling all of the residential applications; Lahontan was handling business ones. To streamline the effort, however, TRPA now handles both.

So, for any Lake Tahoe property owner interested in applying for the loans, what’s the first step? Call Smith at TRPA for a free site assessment.

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