John Garone

Felix Adamo

Thank you to each member of the Board of Supervisors who voted to rescind resolutions allowing PACE and its vendors to operate in Kern County.

The program had developed a trend of becoming increasingly harmful to many of our communities’ most vulnerable citizens. I applaud the Board of Supervisors for their leadership on a very controversial issue.

Over the course of the past few months, as a real estate broker, I have been made aware of many horror stories surrounding the PACE program and its vendors. A very typical scenario was one shared in a letter from an elderly woman. This homeowner, who had used the PACE program, said she was not satisfied with the work, and her upgrades were deteriorating. Her utility costs actually increased and yet her inquiries went unanswered. Sometime later, as a result of serious health issues, she fell behind on financial obligations including her property taxes.

Soon after, she received a letter stating if she did not immediately satisfy the lien, foreclosure proceedings would begin. To save her home, she had to stop paying other crucial living expenses to satisfy the demands of the PACE assessment and property tax bill. This is the dynamic of a super lien, which many people do not fully understand.

It has become increasing apparent how irresponsible vendors utilizing PACE financing can be. It was discovered that 59 homes currently in tax default were approved for a PACE lien. These are homeowners already facing a serious financial threat to keeping their homes, and still PACE qualified them to add thousands of dollars to an already delinquent tax bill. These homeowners are under an eminent threat of losing their homes, and as for the PACE lien? It will remain on the taxes until paid, even if it is by the future purchaser of the property. This is, again, the dynamic of a super lien.

This is clearly not a program that betters our community. Homeowners are being preyed upon; people are being hurt, and many face losing their homes. This has the long-term potential of impacting not only those who fall victim to the program, but also their neighbors.

As we know all to well, a distressed property in your neighborhood has an immediate impact. The overall market value of surrounding homes will fall as a result of just one short sale or foreclosure.

The opposition was firm and unrelenting, yet the Board of Supervisors made the right decision on this very divisive issue. Their decision will prevent many other residents from falling victim to the deeply flawed policy known as PACE.

Thank you, Supervisors Zack Scrivner, Mike Maggard, David Couch, and Mick Gleason. Job well done.

John Garone is a lifelong resident of Bakersfield and an owner and broker of Coldwell Banker Preferred, Realtors. He is a past president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors.