What: Disaster loans for up to $ 2 million for businesses and $ 200,000 for homeowners, to repair or replace property damaged by storms from Feb. 1 and 25.

Who: Businesses, nonprofits and homeowners in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties and the surrounding areas.

Deadline to apply: May 19.

Details: 800-659-2955 or visit sba.gov/disaster. SBA officers are also available at the Santa Cruz County government building, third floor, 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.

SANTA CRUZ >> Dozens of private roads were on the list of damages from this winter’s storms, and around 40 local residents attended a workshop Wednesday at the Santa Cruz County government building, on financial aid for repairs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is receiving loan applications to repair or replace roads, buildings and property damaged in the storms that occurred between Feb. 1 and 25. Homeowners from Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties and the neighboring areas can borrow up to $ 200,000, at interest rates as low as 1.875 percent.

Business owners can borrow up to $ 2 million, at interest rates as low as 3.15 percent, or 2.5 percent for nonprofits.

These loans cover costs that aren’t otherwise covered by insurance. The deadline to apply is May 19.

Garth MacDonald, an SBA public information officer, answered dozens of quick-fire questions from homeowners, such as: If a storm-damaged private road is informally managed by homeowners who aren’t part of a road association, can each owner apply individually for a $ 200,000 loan?

The short answer is yes, said MacDonald, who urged everyone to apply and visit the SBA loan office that’s temporarily located on the third floor of the county government building.

“All cases are different. If you have road issues and you’re trying to recover from this disaster, anybody should try to apply,” MacDonald said. “I can’t guarantee that they’re all going to be eligible … but I don’t want to discourage you from applying.”

If neighbors are considering forming a nonprofit road association to qualify for a $ 2 million SBA loan, MacDonald advised getting a tax identification number as soon as possible, to meet the May 19 deadline. That’s all that’s needed to file an initial SBA loan application, and it buys time to get the rest of the nonprofit documents while the application is processed.

The SBA is also offering a second type of loan for businesses — an “Economic Injury Disaster Loan” — for up to $ 2 million, to cover financial losses due to the storm. For example, businesses in Big Sur may not have been physically damaged by the storm, but the Highway 1 extended closure is seriously affecting their income.

Pat McCormick, executive officer of the Local Agency Formation Commission of Santa Cruz County, presented another option for private road owners: forming a county service area, which is a locally-governed special district that votes on a tax funding maintenance of the private road. It’s a long-term solution that would help pay for future maintenance and repairs, he said.

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The top reason to form a county service area, said McCormick: Everybody has to pay the tax, unlike in road associations, which often have deadbeat members who don’t pay the fees. County service areas are also eligible for federal and state disaster grants, which cover almost 94 percent of damage costs.

The downsides of forming a county service area, said McCormick, include: the 10-month setup period, election costs and a higher cost of road repairs due to the public agency bidding rules for contractors.

Despite the downsides, the county has 30 county service areas for private roads, including the Summit’s Hutchinson Road, which had a slipout in January, that’s estimated to cost $ 3 million to repair. Due to Hutchinson Road’s status as a county service area, the repairs are eligible for federal and state grants, and landowners don’t have to rely on loans.

Anne Evans, a homeowner who lives off Soquel-San Jose Road, was one of several in the audience interested in an SBA loan. Since October, her lane has suffered landslides, buckling and downed trees.

After the meeting, she met with an SBA officer at the SBA’s temporary office in the county building. She was told that re-establishing her lane’s defunct road association is her best bet, since it would help qualify the group for lower interest rates.

Evans said when she working with federal disaster grants following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was “tough,” and she’s unlikely to try forming a county service area.

“When you have a government employee telling you that the downside of it is working with the government, you know that it’s going to be onerous,” Evans said.

SBA Loans

What: Disaster loans for up to $ 2 million for businesses and $ 200,000 for homeowners, to repair or replace property damaged by storms from Feb. 1 and 25.

Who: Businesses, nonprofits and homeowners in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties and the surrounding areas.

Deadline to apply: May 19.

Details: 800-659-2955 or visit sba.gov/disaster. SBA officers are also available at the Santa Cruz County government building, third floor, 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.

sbaloan – BingNews