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Earthquake Retrofitting Financial Incentives for California Property Owners

A house that has been damaged in an earthquake

Earthquake Retrofitting Financial Incentives for California Property Owners

Retrofitting buildings for seismic activity is important for all property owners in regions that experience earthquakes. Even a short earthquake that lasts only a few seconds can cause massive damage and devastation. Older buildings are frequently unprepared for the effects of an earthquake and unable to hold up and stay standing. Walls can cave in, chimneys can collapse, and most importantly, people can be injured or worse.

Fortunately, there are retrofitting financial incentives for California property owners in place that make the choice of whether to make these upgrades simple. Read on for more.

Incentivizing Safety in California

In 2014, a moderate earthquake hit Napa, California. There was mass damage to older structures that were not equipped to stay intact. Even though this was a moderate earthquake, it cost many owners as much as $300,000 to make repairs to their homes. The next year, the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP) launched the Earthquake Bracy & Bolt Program (EBB). This offered up to $3,000 towards retrofitting efforts for older homes in exchange for homeowners agreeing to make specific upgrades. This program is currently closed, but many homes were outfitted with preventative additions, and it gave way to many local governments starting programs of their own.

Examples of California retrofitting financial incentives include the following:

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)

The PACE program is available for use for commercial and residential property owners. It allows individuals to finance the up-front cost of their retrofit and pay the costs back over time through an assessment. PACE is unique in that the assessment is associated with the property instead of the individual owner. Local governments issue bonds to fund these programs.

Typically, those who participate in this program pay the cost of their retrofit back over 10 to 20 years. Your project should cost a minimum of about $2,500 for eligibility. Some property owners may be able to deduct their retrofit payments from their tax liability.

California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) Seismic Safety Financing Program

CalCAP is a program designed to help California small business and residential property owners finance seismic retrofits. This includes mobile homes and multi-unit properties. Through the program, loss reserve protection is offered to lenders that underwrite the costs of the necessary seismic upgrades. California business owners who employ 500 or fewer people full-time and own their commercial property are eligible. Residential property owners in California are also eligible.

Local building code enforcement authority must certify that the building is hazardous and could collapse during an earthquake. Once certification is obtained, cost estimates and permits must also be collected. Owners must reach out to participating lenders for financing, at which point lenders will deposit 2-3.5% of the total loan amount of the owner’s CalCAP account. CPCFA will then contribute up to four times the amount of the lender’s fee, as well as an additional amount up to two times the lender’s fee for building’s located in economically distressed areas.

The Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program (MSSP) Tax Savings

The MSSP was issued in 2013 as a community-based effort led by the Earthquake Safety Implementation Program and enforced by the Department of Building Inspection. The goal of this legislation is to build the resilience of San Francisco’s houses through the mandatory retrofitting of older, multi-family, wood-framed soft story buildings. The California Revenue and Taxation Code provides a property tax exemption for seismic upgrades.

San Francisco’s Seismic Retrofit Financing

In San Francisco, financing is available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help property owners make soft story retrofit upgrades to their buildings. This is part of an effort to make San Francisco a safer city in the likely event of an earthquake. This funding is offered to low- and fixed-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. More information can be obtained by calling (510) 577-6004.

USDA Section 504 Home Repair Program

This program is designed to help homeowners who are very low income or over the age of 62 (or both). Loans are offered to help with home repairs and modernization efforts, and grants are offered to address health and safety issues. Funds can be used to strengthen parts of the home to prepare for seismic activity in California.

Consult with a San Francisco Earthquake Retrofit Company

If you are ready to make the necessary seismic upgrades to your California home or commercial property, contact Victor Construction & Engineering. We offer the best San Francisco earthquake retrofitting services and work on properties across Marin County. Reach out to us with questions about earthquake retrofitting financial incentives. Call (415) 472-9144 to make an appointment.