California lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would authorize the use of so-called Mello-Roos taxes to back bonds that would be used to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements on private property.
The bill is modeled on a program that is being developed in Berkeley, which would allow homeowners to join in a community facilities district that would be used to finance solar panel installations. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, is married to Berkeley’s mayor, Tom Bates.
A special tax assessment against participating properties would back bonds. The tax would remain in place even if a house is sold.
Hancock’s bill specifies that general law cities would have the authority to create or participate in similar programs, not just charter cities like Berkeley, said Hans Hemann, Hancock’s chief of staff.
The bill next goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though he is a solar power enthusiast, he has vowed to veto any bills that cross his desk before the state’s way-overdue budget is passed. So for now, at least, the bill won’t cross his desk.
“All those bills that have passed are actually being held at the desk,” Hemann said.