Latest Figtree News


The Orange County Register
By Tomoya Shimura

Mission Viejo residents now have access to three property-assessed clean-energy programs, commonly known as PACE programs.


Residents now have access to a wider range of lending options if they want to go green.

The City Council on Tuesday approved requests to join CaliforniaFirst and FigTree Financing, property-assesed clean-energy programs, commonly known as PACE programs. The proposal by Councilman Frank Ury came after the council, in the previous meeting, approved the similar California HERO program.

Residents and businesses within cities that are PACE members can get a long-term loan – typically 15 to 20 years – for energy-efficient or renewable improvements, such as installing rooftop solar panels or drought-tolerant landscaping.

What makes the PACE program unique is that loans are attached to the property rather than an individual. The City Council needs to approve the program for residents to get the loans because payments will be collected through property taxes.

Proponents say the PACE program allows residents to defer the upfront costs of energy-efficient upgrades while enjoying savings from low energy costs. They can pass on the remaining loans if they decide to sell the property.

The program, however, suffered a setback in 2010 when mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they would refuse to buy loans for homes that have PACE liens attached. Orange County Association of Realtors representatives said the loan could become an issue when people try to sell their house.

Ury said the city’s role is not to decide how good PACE programs are but to give residents an option.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of the joining CaliforniaFirst and FigTree Financing, with Mayor Cathy Schlicht opposing it.

In addition, the council decided to create an ad-hoc committee and come up with an educational message about PACE programs to be posted online.