Climate Action and Resiliency

Make Sonoma County carbon neutral by 2030.

Goal 2, Objective 2

Provide $20 million in financing by 2026 that incentivizes property managers and renters to retrofit existing multi-family housing towards achieving carbon-neutral buildings.
On Track

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) will offer $20M in financing to allow property owners to retrofit existing multi-family properties using SCEIP property tax assessment financing. We will work with partners and County resources to identify viable multi-family housing owners and property manager. Outreach will be conducted via email/direct mail to multi-family owners and property managers to provide resources related to achieving carbon neutral buildings. Disadvantaged communities will be identified to reach tenants. Through partner relationships, we will develop ideas on how we can better support tenants in making improvements or supporting their conversations with their landlord.

We will offer workshops to tenants to learn about concern and address potential united consequences related to social justice and equity. Engagement will be available in both English and Spanish.

We recognize that our new 7.49% interest rate could make investors less interested in using SCEIP to finance projects and the rate increase was followed by a decline in parties that had expressed interest in utilizing SCEIP at the 6.99% rate.

Now that we fully utilized the funding for marketing and outreach our focus is to locate grants or sources of funding that can be used to offer financial incentive, such as cash for permits, planning, or professional costs incurred by the property owner to complete a project.


Key milestone update (include relevant metrics, if applicable)

  • December 2021 – identify viable multi-family housing owners and property managers. Status – Complete
  • January – March 2022 – perform outreach via email and direct mail to multi-family housing owners and property managers to provide resources related to achieving carbon neutral buildings. Status – sent direct mailer to 700 MF property owners, July 2022 with 11 respondents.  New mailer scheduled for January 2023 to refined list. November 2022: Finalized Multi-channel 6-month campaign launching January 2023.  This includes radio, digital, social media, print and dedicated webpage for MF.  This includes efforts in both Spanish and English. Held a contractor breakfast in September 2022 to educate them on financing for MF.
  • March-May 2022 – facilitate forum to connect renters and landlords for a listening session to understand barriers. Initial funding availability and guidance is expected to be available through BayREN Multi-family.
  • June 2022 – September 2023 – continue to update radio, digital, social media, ads to keep them “fresh”. We included three months of streaming TV ad’s targeted to HULU subscribers watching HGTV and Home Improvement programs.
  • September – December 2023 – we used the remaining funds towards radio ads and the creation of property tax bill inserts that encourage multi-family property owners to “help build a better community” using SCEIP (over 200K tax bills were mailed out with the insert). Last radio ad will run through December 2023 – with all funds exhausted.
  • January 2024 – over 3,225 radio ads were delivered in 2023 to the community. Property owners continue to contact the SCEIP program even after the advertising stopped on 12/31/23. Property tax inserts continue to drive community to the program, yet we have found that most are looking for a cash back type of incentive.  Program Staff are continuing to seek grants that may offer the ability to incentivize owners with partial funding of improvements.

Coordination and partnership update

Coordinated with BayREN for the direct mail campaign to property owners. Additionally, we partnered with BayREN held two MF workshops, including a regional forum “Decarbonizing Rental Housing While Protecting Tenants.”  Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) agreed to provide up to $29k in funding towards a MF intern that will support our efforts and meet their grant requirements. Contracted with Soluna Outreach Solutions for Latinx outreach.  Joined several business chambers and attend events regularly.  Several community partners submitted support letters for the Federal Appropriation request.

Community, equity and climate update

Continued partnership with Soluna Outreach Solutions for Latinx outreach to build trust within the Hispanic community to gather information regarding tenants concerns and needs.  Future workshops to be designed based on feedback.  Division submitted a Federal Appropriation request for MF resiliency and energy improvements, including a workforce development aspect, specifically for low-income MF housing.  The request was accepted but later did not move forward.  Staff continues to engage with the Latinx/Hispanic community in live radio informational talks.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

Provide marketing, community education and outreach dollars to the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program to promote resources and drive retrofits in the multi-family sector. Through education, incentives and financing for multi-family property owners and managers to retrofit existing multi-family housing with the goal of achieving resilient, carbon neutral buildings.  In addition, we look to bridge the gap between owners and tenants and leverage any existing programs with the financing option.  The incentives are available through Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) multi-family program. In addition, Sonoma Clean Power is currently developing additional incentives that can be coupled with BayREN incentives. The SCEIP financing will be able to make up the difference for what the incentives will not cover, either in the types of improvements or to cover the additional costs above what the incentive pays out. The intent is to leverage all these resources and partners to maximize the types and numbers of improvements necessary to achieve carbon neutrality.  Education is necessary about the importance of going all-electric as a choice now and taking incentives while available instead of waiting until it’s mandated, and potential incentives are eliminated once a mandate is in place.

The total funds $132,500 received from the Board for the CAR 2.2 strategic pilar were fully utilized on marketing and outreach designed to educate the community on the benefits of making improvements and increasing awareness of the SCEIP program and the many benefits it offers all property owners in Sonoma County.