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County of Sonoma

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2010

Sonoma County Takes New Action to Protect Innovative Home Energy Retrofit Program

Summary
County seeks Court injunction against Federal Agencies.

Santa Rosa, CA (October 14, 2010) - On Thursday, October 14th, the County of Sonoma filed a motion for preliminary injunction requesting the Federal Court issue an immediate order to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to halt their efforts against Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, such as the pioneering Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). This action is a follow up to the County’s July 2010 lawsuit against the federal government on the same matter.

In July 2010, the County of Sonoma filed suit in federal court challenging the directions issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and their federal regulator the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA). Their edicts consider clean energy assessments made under the County’s SCEIP as “loans” not assessments.

The impact of the unwarranted bureaucratic action has been a chilling effect on applications. Sadly, in a time when the community needs to both create good jobs and address the impacts of climate change, to have the federal government fail to understand the positive aspects of our program is incredibly frustrating. Commented Chairwoman Valerie Brown Commented Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

These federal directives do not permit participation under mortgages held by the two mortgage giants and put homeowners at an unfair disadvantage. Fannie and Freddie are not only hurting innovation but are punishing even non-participating property owners. said Sonoma County Auditor-Controller Rod Dole, SCEIP’s program administrator.

Since the County’s initial legal filing, Fannie and Freddie have instructed banks not to fund new loans where a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) assessment is in place, and have required pay off of these assessments before allowing any refinancing. The new instructions also threaten further actions against all home owners in communities which have PACE programs such as requiring higher loan to value and debt to income ratios.

The County has requested the first available hearing date, November 18, 2010.

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About the County of Sonoma

The County of Sonoma is comprised of 26 departments and agencies that provide a full range of services to the community. It encompasses over 1600 square miles and is home to almost 500,000 residents. Sonoma County government has a history of providing excellent and responsive public service while operating under sound fiscal principles.

Located less than one hour north of San Francisco, Sonoma County combines in one location the beautiful Pacific coastline, award-winning wineries, majestic redwoods, historic towns, fine dining, and a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.

Contact Information

Contact:
Community and Governmental Affairs Manager
County Administrator’s Office
County of Sonoma
Address:
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Email:
Phone:
(707) 565-3771 Work
Fax:
(707) 565-3778 Fax Fax
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