Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino counties get $25M in tax credits for housing after fires; Sonoma builders get energy incentives; more news

Counties in the North Bay and beyond will receive $25.6 million in federal emergency tax credits to provide financing for low-income housing as a result of wildfires in 2017 and 2018, the California Treasurer’s Office announced Monday.

Of the state’s $91 million in credits, Sonoma County developers have been awarded $16 million to make up for the damage caused by the Tubbs Fire of 2017. Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties got $4.3 million, $3.4 million and $1.9 million, respectively. The latter two counties were devastated by the Mendocino Complex fire of 2018.

The credits are earmarked to fund the construction of 2,846 units for low-income families, seniors and veterans. They came from the $99 million in 9% federal tax credits awarded to the state from legislation spawned by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. It was approved in December 2019.

“The most recent destructive wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties and many other places in California remind us of how critical it is to rebuild as quickly as possible,” state Treasurer Fiona Ma said.

Santa Rosa fire inspector Toby Rey, right, measures the placement of solar panels on a new home as Jason Mueller, construction manager with Sunpower, watches. (Press Democrat photo) Aug. 3, 2011
Santa Rosa fire inspector Toby Rey, right, measures the placement of solar panels on a new home as Jason Mueller, construction manager with Sunpower, watches. (Press Democrat photo) Aug. 3, 2011

Sonoma Clean Power’s Advanced Energy Build program is offering cash incentives and technical guidance for builders. Through Advanced Energy Build, new development projects can earn up to $4,500 per housing unit for energy efficiency and resiliency features, the organization announced.

Low-income single-family homes, multifamily housing, and projects that add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are eligible for increased incentive amounts. The flexible incentive packages are designed to assist builders with the costs associated with building electric-ready and all-electric homes.

Advanced Energy Build was adapted from SCP’s Advanced Energy Rebuild program, which was developed in partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to support residents in the rebuilding process after the October 2017 North Bay fires.

For more information, builders can email SCP at or visit

The DTC Wine Symposium announced four confirmed keynote presentations for the wine industry’s national summit on direct to consumer sales and marketing, to be held virtually Jan. 19-22, 2021.

“Why Diversity Matters.” Benny Bennafield, of Propellant Media, will “present practical insights to gain market share with African American and LatinX.” His presentation is based on experience with brands including GM, Kraft General Foods, Phillip Morris, AT&T, SunTrust and Magic Johnson Enterprises.

“State of the States: A legislative update on DTC legislation” Steve Gross, vice president, State Relations, Wine Institute, will present his annual update – a perennial favorite – on state legislative wins, future priorities and implications for winery compliance in 2021.

In “A Look Ahead with Consumers: Understanding the New Realities of Wine Marketing through COVID-19 and into 2021.” Brian Baker, founder of Cultivar Marketing, will engage a panel of wine consumers with questions about shipping costs, winery brand loyalty, discounts and more.

More information on topics and speakers will be added to the event website as they are finalized.

An “early bird” rate of $150 continue through Dec. 18.

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit announced that Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P) has issued an AA rating on its proposed refinancing of its construction debt through the issuance of Green Bonds. S&P also affirmed its AA bond rating on its existing bonds following a review of SMART’s creditworthiness.

“This successful step will put SMART closer to its goal of reducing debt service by as much as $3 million annually” said Eric Lucan, Chair of SMART Board of Directors and Council Member from Novato.

S&P Global Ratings assigned this new “AA” long-term rating on SMART’s anticipated $123.4 million Measure Q sales tax revenue refunding bonds, which will be sold as green bonds due to their tie to the environmental benefits of SMART. An AA rating indicates that the issuer’s “capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong.”

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