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Block Captain Mtg Notes – Dist. 3 (Hidden Valley Estates/Fountaingrove -ish) – Zane


  • The fire-affected neighborhoods in Sonoma County’s District 3 » includes, but is not limited to, Fountaingrove, Hidden Valley Estates, and Journey’s End.
  • Supervisor Zane’s » team has kindly agreed to let me post the notes from their weekly block captain meetings.  Please forgive any errors from copying and pasting.  As a reminder, things change over time, and each home and neighborhood differ, so be sure to check with the appropriate agency for current information.  See Resources »  Rebuilding »  and Insurance » for some links.
  • Are you interested in becoming a block captain or connecting with a block captain in District 1, 3, or 4?  Visit

For meeting notes after 9/6/2018, please contact the District 3 coordinator:

9/6/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

The notes below include a link to the presentation and report by Fire & Emergency Services Interim Manager Chris Godley – analysis and recommendations following the October 2017 wildfires. I highly recommend watching the video of Godley’s presentation to the Board, but the link will also provide you with the written report and PowerPoint.

Here is an email  from the public affairs rep at PG&E with an update on new state vegetation and fire safety standards.  PG&E Wildfire Safety Vegetation Work in Sonoma County Questions: dedicated phone line at 1-877-295-4949 or email us at Information at  Here is the doorhanger regarding vegetation work in residential neighborhoods: CWSP Wildfire Safety Veg Work Doorhanger_20180906

I attended the City Council meeting last week in which there were two reports on the water issues – benzene and the impacts on the water system in the Fountaingrove area on October 8&9. Jennifer Burke, Deputy Director of Water & Engineering will present to us Thursday on the benzene issue, and here is a link to the City’s press release with the report on the impacts embedded in it.

Informational Speakers

Hannah Euser & John Kessel, Administrative Analysts – Office of Recovery & Resiliency (ORR) conducted a mini-community planning workshop to seek ideas and visions “to shape the Recovery and Resiliency Plan to ensure the safety, livelihoods, and economic prosperity of the residents of Sonoma County.”

Focus of ORR survey are following five strategic areas:

  • Community Preparedness & Infrastructure
  • Economy
  • Housing
  • Natural Resources
  • Safety Net Services

Survey can be taken online – closes September 12

On Warning Systems, Improvements, Future Concerns:

Will horns or sirens be tested during the 9/10-9/12 emergency alert tests?

No, the sirens will not be tested. Currently utilized by volunteer fire companies for the sole purpose of calling their volunteers to the firehouse. Most are currently tested daily and are used regularly.

What is the basic information on emergency alerts? What has changed with regard to emergency alerts to improve the system based on what was learned last October?

Michelle has asked Interim Emergency Manager Chris Godley to provide a written response to this question. Godley is also willing to come and talk at an upcoming block captain meeting – likely in early October.


Can there be a coordinated neighborhood alert program/call tree to add another layer of redundancy to the system of alerts?

The City of Santa Rosa is considering such a program, and it may evolve out of the County’s block captain programs. City of Santa Rosa has been looking at San Francisco’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network as a model.

Questions D3 Staff will work to find answers for:

  • What has been done in the last year to improve emergency preparedness and response?
  • What is the plan to improve and better define evacuation routes?
  • How can fire survivors feel confident that there will be insurance companies willing or required to insure their homes in the future, and at reasonable rates?
  • Why is there no fire station near Hidden Valley Estates? Residents don’t feel safe given the distance to the nearest fire station.
  • Can there be a third party inspector for PG&E line maintenance? There is mistrust of PG&E because they are permitted to self-monitor.
  • Block captains had questions about PG&E plans to de-energize powerlines. Staff to request PG&E address this question either in writing or in person at an upcoming meeting.  Sign up for PG&E notifications of shut-offs or de-energization on the Community Wildlife Safety site and more info here:  PGE FAQs.
  • Will City repair sidewalks?

On Grant Process, Needs Assessments, Future Resources

  • Report from ORR: The community workshops have generated over 2,000 comments which will be synthesized and brought to the Board of Supervisors on September 25.
  • With regard to Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) fund – allocation published in Federal Register in late August – California expected to receive $90 million, with a percentage allocated to Sonoma County. The precise dollar amount coming to Sonoma County is not yet known and will be determined by state public administrators – California Housing & Community Development Commission (HCDC). Funds will not become available until 2019. The County will be engaged to advise funding decisions but County staff and local elected officials are not the final decision makers. City and County are coordinating and cooperating on grant applications and pursuing funding that will help both County and City fire survivors.
  • County working with Cal OES on a potential consortium that could provide additional funding to the “missing middle” – those who fall between being the most needy and the most affluent.
  • Federal guidelines for aid requires community input.
    • ORR will share the concerns of the fire survivors with the consultants reviewing the needs assessments
  • Once allocations are established, communications to the community will go out.
  • The County will continue to advocate for the unmet needs of County/City fire survivors.

On Most Pressing Issues

ORR  staff asked block captains to share their view of what the most pressing issues are. The list highest priorities and concerns provided by fire survivors/block captains includes:

  • Rebuilding homes lost in the fires has got to be the highest priority. Many fire survivors are not anywhere near where they hoped to be in the recovery process, now almost a year after the fires.
  • Emergency alerts must be upgraded to the highest standards, with multiple redundancies in case one or more systems fail. Need systems that can deliver alerts even if electricity and cell service are down. Residents need to feel confident that they will be notified. Many feel that the system failed them. Some block captains got alerts; others did not. Some were alerted by neighbors; others had no contact the night of the fires from neighbors, public safety officials.
  • There was a short discussion on the merits and limitations of horns or sirens but most appeared to want horns and sirens to be considered to complement the alert system.
  • Prevention, response and deployment of resources should be evaluated and upgraded where necessary.
  • Concerns were raised about providing mutual aid to other communities when Sonoma County is vulnerable.
  • Legislators to advocate to insurance companies for extended alternative living expenses (ALE’s), and to continue insuring for beyond two years at same rate.
  • Consider more fire breaks and fuel reduction activities, especially between Napa/Lake/Sonoma Counties. One block captain suggested vineyards as fire breaks.
  • Consult with UC Cooperative Extension experts on fuels and forest management.
  • Regional coordination for 9-1-1 is suggested to make local systems more resilient when it gets overwhelmed during a large scale emergency.
  • Fire survivors would like their communities to be restored to resemble what they looked like before the fires.
  • There is not enough being done to reassure fire survivors that they should rebuild their homes.
  • Regarding fire survivors who fall in between the most needy and the most affluent, aka “missing middle,” there is significant unmet need due primarily to underinsurance and inability to qualify for much of the “needs based” public and private support. They would like to see more financial support made available for the missing middle who are struggling to rebuild. Low or no interest loans could help. The rates for the SBA loans are not any more attractive than what can be found at a local bank.
  • Increasing sources and outreach for mental health services.
  • Create temporary housing to accommodate out-of-area contractors, builders, etc.
    • Example of workers from central CA arriving to help with rebuild but couldn’t find housing.
    • Michelle Whitman reported that Supervisor Zane recently toured county properties to identify appropriate sites for worker housing.
  • Items that should not be a top priority until lost homes are rebuilt
    • Economic development, safety net services, homelessness, new housing, natural resources.
    • Consensus was that these issues are indeed important, but all available resources should be directed at the rebuild first.

County Updates/Announcements

Save the Dates

  • Commemorative Event at Courthouse Square
    • Monday, October 8, 4.00-6.00PM & Tuesday, October 9, 10.00AM-6.00PM
    • Low-key, somber, reflective
  • KSRO: Sunday, September 30 – Celebration of Heroes at Courthouse Square 12.00-5.00PM – you can nominate a hero on the KSRO website
  • KSRO/Pat Kerrigan Scramble: Monday, October 1, Shotgun at 11.30AM, Dinner at 6.00PM
  • September 18 BCM moved from September 20
    • Independent Consultants Horne LLC will present on their needs assessment process for the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR)

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

8/30/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

Informational Speakers

Caerleon Safford, Public Information Specialist, Sonoma County Fire & Emergency Services; Coordinator at Fire Safe Sonoma County 

  • Hardening structures, County’s defensible space requirements

Sean McNeil, Water Sustainability Coordinator & Gabe Osburn, Deputy Director of Development Services

  • Landscaping requirements and resources
  • Workshops associated with template landscape drawings
  • General rebuild update

Caerleon Safford – Hardening the Structure

  • Greatest risks are right next to the structure
  • How do houses ignite?
    • Direct flame: due to vegetation right next to the house (property owners control this)
    • Radiant heat: house simply combusts from the heat around it; not typically a common cause of loss, but likely in play during Sonoma County complex fire
  • Embers will find and use any vulnerability
    • Welcome mats, wood piles, pet doors, wooden planters on porches and decks

Caerleon Safford – Defensible Space 

  • Work out from the home
    • House walls to five feet
    • Five feet to 30 feet
    • 30 to 100 feet
    • First five feet should be the non-combustible zone
  • On plants, mulch, do’s & don’ts
    • Flammable plants are those that smell, have rock/paper-like bark, and/or are oily
    • Mulch is important – aids in decreased water usage; need to break up the pathways – alternate with rock or cement to break up mulch path; Gorilla hair mulch very flammable
  • Close pet doors when evacuating – doors can blow open and allow embers to enter
  • Ignore Sunset magazine and encouragement of planting bushes and brush right next to the home
  • Need for creativity
    • Decks – look to tile or ignition-resistant deck materials that are composites (Trek), or Ipe wood (recyclable, renewable wood that is fire resistant). Make sure it has a Class A fire rating
    • Fences/Walls – look to stucco to replace burnable walls/fences
  • General notes on materials
    • Gutters – metal holds heat and may allow access to eaves; plastic/vinyl may melt, drop to the ground, hit vegetation and burn. What’s better?
    • Paint – heat-resistant paints exist – not truly tested and cost-prohibitive
  • Order of priorities during fire
    • #1 is safety, lives
    • #2 is property protection
    • #3 is environmental protection
  • We all need to be Smokey Bear
    • Biggest issue out there is aging community who cannot maintain property nor afford to hire others to do so
  • Revive the community in our worlds – pitch in; have neighborhood cleanup days;
    • County has chipper program available for all County residents (one chipper at present, so in high demand; book for April). Program runs from April to early November. Never shut down last year.
      • Property owner responsible for disposal of chipped wood
  • Additional Resources

Sean McNeil & Gabe Osburn – Landscape Plans/Requirements

  • On timing and requirements
    • Landscape regulations are set by the state. The City of Santa Rosa has taken the state’s regulations, simplified and made them more generic to ease the burden on fire survivors. The landscape requirement applies to front yard landscaping only, although the conceptual designs include backyard landscaping as an option.
    • Front landscape plan must be submitted prior to sheetrock inspection.
    • Deferral program is available, allowing for a two-year period to complete landscaping – occupancy will not be delayed if landscaping not in place at move-in time
      • Minimal items that need to be completed to qualify for deferral
        • Examples – pipe chases under sidewalks, irrigation systems, tree softening, soil maintenance, etc.
        • City will provide list of minimal items
      • If plans change within two-year period, plans filed with the City need to be updated
  • On Plans Created by City Planners
    • The City has eight different plans developed. Two of the plans meet Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) code requirements without any modification. The other six plans could be modified or “thinned” to fit the code (WUI-ized). There are two eco/edible plans as well.
    • Plans will soon be on the City’s rebuild website and can be adapted to virtually any rebuild
      • The City is creating a packet to help City residents with landscape planning and design
    • There are two lists of plant substitutions.
    • Landscape plans and installation are being provided as part of some builders’ contracts. A property owner can request that their builder include landscaping in the bid, and many of the larger builders are already doing this, particularly if they are building several homes.
    • If a property owner wants to do their own landscaping they should
      • Choose a plan
      • Mark it up to reflect their design
      • Calculate the percentage of plants that are low water use and moderate water use.
      • At least 75% must be low water use (this is how plans were successfully streamline)
    • Include irrigation system design with inline emitter tubing
      • Irrigation system must have a ‘smart’ controller that adjusts irrigation according to weather
      • Retailers like Wyatt would carry irrigation system components.
    • City coming up with step-by-step guidelines for DIY property owners
    • When plans are completed, there will be two big sheets of plans and two 8 ½ x 11 of detail
    • The City encourages contractors to come and discuss landscaping requirements – they feel staff can easily explain the plumbing and infrastructure requirements to show contractors that they don’t need to subcontract a landscape design professional
      • Feedback from builders using plans is that the City’s plans removes steps that are normally necessary for them
        • Removes third-party auditor inspecting to ensure plans and actual implementation match. This has eliminated a cost that has generated thousands of dollars of savings.
    • Townhomes are a unique situation. Owners of these properties should consult with City staff.
    • Water capture
      • Rainwater capture is easy to retrofit so not critical to design ahead of time
      • Greywater capture however does require some plumbing adaptation so property owner should let plumbing contractor design.
        • Rebates offered through water efficiency program; will work with property owners through application process
  • On Workshops, Permit Process, and Erosion Control
    • Workshop hosted by the City scheduled for September 29 at the Utilities Field Office, 35 Stony Point Road
      • Landscape architects, master gardeners, Daily Acts and City staff will be there to answer questions following a presentation
      • If property owners have all their landscape plans with them there, it may be possible to get the landscape permit on the spot
      • There is no charge for this permit
      • Presentation will be videotaped and available on the City website
      • After plans are submitted an inspector will use a checklist to sign off.
      • Homeowners with drywall going up prior to the September workshop are encouraged to stop into the resiliency permitting office to work with staff on a plan
    • September is a good month to prepare for erosion control on sites that will remain vacant through the rainy season.
    • There will likely be a storm water management presentation scheduled at an upcoming block captain meeting.
  • Other Questions
    • Why don’t you take the WUI standards and make them applicable to everyone who rebuilds and make the backyards part of that requirement as well?
      • The amount of landscaping required – beyond the state levels – is up to each local jurisdiction.
    • Why can’t you make that a legal requirement?
      • It would require a code change. Part of it was sensitivity to cost. WUI requirements go beyond just landscaping.
    • After the final building inspection and occupancy, is the City involved in my landscaping?
      • No. These requirements are a product of governance, but there isn’t anything that governs it later on. The link is that you have to provide a landscaping plan to obtain a building permit.
    • How are the HOA applications going?
      • Totally different process and set of requirements for common/larger space
      • Fountaingrove I and II hiring arborists to inspect the trees

Block Captain & County Updates/Announcements tabled, as well as needs assessment.

The 9-6-18 meeting is when the Office of Recovery & Resiliency (ORR) will be conducting a mini-community workshop such as those that were held throughout the five county districts since June. Please take a moment to review the workshop packet if possible prior to the meeting.

For those not in attendance, beginning September 31, we will be scheduling the informational speakers to begin at 5.40/5.45. That will allow for quick announcements – to include recent obstacles you’ve encountered or to share some success stories.

Announcements we did not have time:

  • Fountaingrove Open House –first completed rebuild (written about in Press Democrat)
  • Passport replacement – From Congressman Thompson’s office: You can write a letter explaining that you were affected by the Sonoma Complex Fires in Sonoma County. They will expedite your application, and will waive the Document Research Fee which they usually charge for lost passports (around $185). You do still have to pay the regular passport fee.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

8/23/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

Informational Speakers

  • Tony Gossner – Fire Chief, City of Santa Rosa
  • Scott Moon – Fire Marshal, City of Santa Rosa
  • Jesse Oswald – Chief Building Official, City of Santa Rosa


On reporting neighbors, properties, or hillsides with overgrowth and fuel sources: What can we do, who can we report to, what are you doing about them, and what timelines can we expect?

  • Right now conditions of burned trees aren’t truly fire hazards. There’s not a high probability of burning again. We are not ignoring them, but need to think about the best use of our resources.
  • Using City’s code enforcement’s investigation request form, provide the information and City will find who is responsible for property (concerning trees that pose a hazard to property)
  • If property owners do not take action and remove fuel source after receiving violation notices, the City will remove the fuel source and bill the property owner
  • Challenging to put a timeline on this – legal process, notifications, property owner provided opportunity to address the problem before the City can take action

On defining “defensible space” and how to meet the requirements for building permits:

  • Break down your lot into increments (“zones”) of five feet, beginning at your home.
  • Keep in mind a lot of the regulations are for lots larger than most in the burn areas – for lots with an infinity type of a line on them
  • Minimize the vegetation you plant in those areas
  • Be mindful that even if it’s a fire resistant plant, all plants will burn
  • Fire-wise plants will still burn – when there is a sustained force of embers blowing through an area, keeping that distance clear of combustible items is crucial
  • Keep gutters and roofline junctures clear – multiple homes became involved simply because gutters were full of debris
  • Home hardening needs to be part of the discussion along with defensible space; finding materials that be incorporated into the structure to make it more fire-resistant
  • For a more specific breakdown on defensible space that includes many of the subsequent tips shared by Moon & Gossner, see Firewise Landscaping
  • From UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County
  • Handouts:
  • Firewise Guide to Landscape & Construction
  • Living With Fire In Sonoma County

On questions and issues related to trees:

  • We don’t want to regulate moving trees – especially an oak tree that is in good health – just don’t allow limbs within ten feet of fireplace
  • Be mindful of dead limbs hanging over structure so there isn’t a direct transmission to the house if fire reaches the tree
  • Moon & Gossner to look into burned trees that remain along Fountaingrove Parkway, as well as placement of wood chips on the hillsides – Gossner mentioned the larger wood chips are pretty hardy and not easily burned
  • Property owners may remove burned/dead trees from property without going through permit process in advance:
  • Document why and when the tree is removed
  • Take photos
  • Use for later reference when submitting plans for permit
  • Issue of eucalyptus trees
  • Can a neighbor plant one? A: List of allowed trees still being worked on
  • Are there incentive programs to remove combustible trees like eucalyptus? A: Not to our knowledge

On landscape and vegetation management – how to reconcile requirements for low water use and incorporating fire-wise plants? Have plants on landscape list been vetted as being fire-wise? What are typical plants that are flammable? Why cookie-cutter landscape templates – shouldn’t they be more prescriptive to the area the property falls in?

  • It can be challenging to reconcile requirements – most drought tolerate plants are waxy and oily, making them highly combustible especially when they grow into a bush size
  • Fire Dept. has jumped in with the City Planning Dept. to help find plants that fit both needs
  • Plans are still being worked on; not yet complete
  • Plants to avoid:
  • Aromatic & fragrant plant
  • Ones that produce oil
  • Trees/plants that shed “duff” (decaying needles & leaves) – eucalyptus and juniper trees
  • Stories about houses not involved in fire, but junipers positioned right up against side of house caught on fire and took out the house
  • Living in this area and maintaining a fire-resistant property is going to be constant work; future planning dependent upon Community Wildfire Protection Plan (more below).
  • For a more specific description of how to choose the “right plants,” please see Fire Safe Marin’s “Choose the Right Plants”

On PG&E – what are defensible space requirements related to PG&E poles? Have there been discussions about undergrounding all wires? Why can’t PG&E power down when fires are in area?

  • There currently any requirements in relation to placement of poles
  • Although conversations about parameters are currently taking place in Sacramento
  • Utilities have to provide clearance in tree – return every 3-4 years; plans to put in sturdier lines
  • City Fire has pushed for undergrounding a great deal – especially during rebuilding
  • Extremely costly
  • State has money set aside for this, but unable to underground the entire state
  • PG&E has explored turning power off and/or de-energizing a system
  • Downside – shutting off large grids would take 5-7 days to power up due to need to check equipment throughout area

On the Community Wildland Protection Plan and living in the Wildlife-Urban Interface (WUI); Why are we rebuilding in the path of repeated fires? Shouldn’t we make changes now to prevent future disasters? Within the county, shouldn’t it be a countywide effort? What are standards by city, county, state?

  • City has received grant funding to create a Community Wildlife Protection Plan which will eventually help address what changes needs to be made
  • We’re in the beginning of developing a plan that helps us understand where we are now
  • Before decisions can be made on structure of the plan, we have to evaluate:
  • Evaluate topography
  • Weather patterns
  • Plans in comparable cities/areas that have been successful
  • City & County officials and fire personnel studying San Diego’s disaster response plans
  • Education will play a huge role in this
  • Will be holding well-publicized community meetings for input and participation over next year to help craft the plan
  • County is working on a vegetation management plan and City is working with them
  • Locally, as a city, we don’t have a plan in place
  • Over nine thousand homes and 22 thousand people live within a WUI – 32% of our community
  • Every area of the city touches a WUI state responsibility area so multiple conversations need to take place to create the best comprehensive plan which will not happen overnight
  • Also need to work with surrounding counties
  • Build your house to be the most hardened it can be – these areas will burn again, but our job is to keep future fires as small as possible
  • Moving down a road of forced ordinances is not the answer
  • We all have responsibilities living in this area
  • There may be different standards applied in the city vs. the county, but all follow the same state codes
  • Try to be as consistent as possible, but some areas can’t have the same language because the environment is different in each area
  • Community Wildlife Protection Plan will help address this

Other Questions:

Is there an active education program for standing neighbors?

  • This type of meeting is it – City received a grant to address WUI education and scheduled a public meeting to provide education – five people showed up

Are you talking to insurance companies about future coverage and offering incentives? Can you implement incentives similar to Title 24?

  • When speaking with insurance companies, the response from insurance is how can we get our clients to do what we say
  • Incentives can happen – Title 24 came about from conversations just like this one; that’s how it starts
  • Have to balance individual needs with the laws of the county and state with what are county, state, and federal rights

On grants and funding – Are you applying for funding? Can you approach private industry? What about asking Keysight?

  • City submitted a grant to Cal Fire that was focused on neighborhood education and creation of chipper program – denied at state level but resubmitting similar one to FEMA
  • FEMA approved the previously mentioned Community Wildlife Protection Plan
  • State and federal agencies challenged by number of disasters
  • Have not looked into private industry funding – could be legal challenges there
  • Approaching Keysight presents conflict of interest issue – SR Fires provides enforcement of proper disposal of hazardous waste
  • Block captain shared story of neighborhood in Novato receiving a grant to educate the community on vegetation management – opportunity for City to partner with County in something similar
  • Resulted in two weekends of neighbors cleaning up properties
  • Program included a chipper

Did Santa Rosa Fire have a problem similar to that of Mendocino fire departments experiencing the throttling down of data service by Verizon?

  • Problem during Sonoma Complex was due to downed cell towers.

On pools being used as tank for fire suppression systems

  • City does not recognize pools as a reliable source of water for systems

How to educate out-of-area contractors on WUI building requirements?

Additional helpful links:


Suggested Future Speakers – From City of Santa Rosa

Please note: these dates and topics are based on the availability of the speakers

  • 8-30 Sean McNeil, Water Sustainability Coordinator & Gabe Osburn, Deputy Director of Development Services – If landscape templates are completed, this will begin at 6.30 following the hardening structure presentation at 5.30; if templates are not completed, will push back City speakers to a later date
  • Landscaping requirements and resources
  • Workshops associated with template landscape drawings
  • General rebuild update


  • 9-13 Jennifer Burke, Deputy Director of Water and Engineering Resources & Gabe Osburn, Deputy Director of Development Services – Confirmed
  • Water Advisory Area Update
  • General rebuild update


  • 9-27 Bob Oller, Development Review Coordinator & Gabe Osburn – Deputy Director of Development Services – Confirmed
  • Construction coordination
  • Construction complaints (noise, debris, etc.)
  • PG&E work in the roadway
  • General rebuild update


Block Captain Updates/Announcements

UP Roadmap to Recovery Workshop Wed 9/12/18 @ 6-8pm

Glaser Center @ Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 547 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa

This workshop will discuss preparing for the 1-year anniversary. Who should attend? Homeowners whose insured homes were damaged or destroyed in the 2017 North Bay wildfires.

Free Financial Planning for Fire Survivors Sats 9/22/18 & 11/3/18  @ 11am-3pm

Volunteer Center of Sonoma, 153 Stony Circle, Santa Rosa

Certified Financial Planners® are volunteering to help Santa Rosa fire survivors. All advice is free and no business cards will be distributed.

Sonoma Strong Healing Fair Sat 9/29/18 @ 10am-5pm

Santa Rosa Veterans Building, 1351 Maple, Santa Rosa

Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, naturopathic, energy healing, life coaching and more. There will be live music, speakers, vendors, sponsors, a silent auction, raffles, a children’s area and snacks and drinks.

County Updates/Announcements

  1. Debris Removal/Over-excavation Issues
  • Supervisor Zane, along with the City of Santa Rosa, met with CalOES, FEMA, and both Federal and State legislative representatives to discuss a game plan to move us forward. Cal OES Director Ghilaraducci reiterated CalOES’ commitment to assisting us and working side-by-side with local agencies, as did a representative from FEMA. More meetings with local officials and CalOES/FEMA will take place in the coming days and weeks to ensure that plan is developed and implemented. Supervisor Zane will continue to advocate on behalf of all survivors to ensure they can rebuild and remain in our community.
  • See the letter CalOES wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding over- and under-excavation »

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

8/16/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

Informational Speaker – Shannon Hash, Alpha Fire Suppression Systems, Inc.

  • Shannon provided background info about his own experience and the history of Alpha Fire Suppression Systems, Inc. – locally owned in Sonoma County 25+ years
  • Has helped homeowners and builders get on the right track for the last nine months, despite having pre-fire backlog of booked contracts
  • Has own residential and commercial teams for design and install
  • This service provider was recommended by the North Coast Builders Exchange but not meant as a specific endorsement; the presentation was intended as strictly informational and not intended as a sales pitch.
  • Link to livestream on Facebook If anyone has any additional questions for Shannon Hash, please email him at

Q&A’s * SH=Shannon Hash, BC=Block Captain

(please note that there might be missing pieces to this transcription; see video for full presentation)

Neighbor installing system w/1 ½ inch line to the water main – were told they needed a pump because pressure was not adequate.

  • We’ve installed systems in a couple of houses up in Fountaingrove and the water pressure in those houses seems to be fine. If you’re questioning need for pump and tank due to additional cost, there are other avenues – different designs. Value engineering can be done. (Value engineering (VE) is a systematic method to improve the “value” of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost. Value can therefore be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost.)

When you say pressure is “fine,” what does that mean?

  • Just did a house near old fire station and psi was about 56. It’s more than enough at 50 psi to design a house system.
  • We’ve used residential shut-off valve and domestic shut-off valve, so when a sprinkler trips it cuts of domestic source which saves five gallons. May not sound like much, but it makes a difference.
  • Has had two or three meetings with City fire department to make sure everyone is on the same page as to what is required in order to value engineer a house.
  • According to City of Santa Rosa Asst. Fire Marshall Ian Hardage, at the moment there are many valves shut down in the area to avoid overflow. They will be turned back on and pressure will increase.

If pump and tank are required to support sprinkler system, what is size and cost?

  • We are doing everything we can to avoid having to require those. It’s a last ditch effort for sprinkler system. Average tank is roughly about 6’ x 6’ x 2 ½’. Can fit inside garage against the wall. Per code, needs to provide a minimum of a ten minute supply – roughly 300-400 gallons, depending on sprinkler layout and demand. Pump is built into tank itself – accessible from outside, but built in.

Are pumps backed up by batteries?

  • No and that’s why we are really pushing to not get tanks and pumps. We’re doing everything we can as a company to not require the pump and tanks because we can’t control the power.

We’ve heard the system is not really meant to fight wildfires — it’s only meant to buy more time to help you exit safely – e.g., in the event of a kitchen fire. Even if there isn’t a loss of power, the system is not going to save your house, correct?

  • SH:Yes
  • BC: Regulations are there to protect you from domestic events, and not the rare event of the wildfire. Don’t think anyone wants to pay for a system that is capable of saving your house from a wildfire.
  • SH: There was a FEMA pamphlet floating around asking homeowners to provide E protection. Per code is not required with sprinklers.

Is there any requirement that is different being in a WUI zone?

  • To an extent. If you have an outside overhang that is greater than four feet, or a deck that includes an outdoor kitchen, we will protect that if you have that covered. If it’s an open trellis, it’s not required.

Sounds like you’re super booked. Are you booked out three years?

  • We have our own residential installers and our own residential designers. We’ve had work on the books from large companies involving three story apartment buildings in American Canyon that’s just starting. But we’re also keeping a crew here for houses that were booked from last year.
  • We have no problem giving quotes, as long as there is a general contractor that is providing a timeline that we can meet — it won’t be a problem. I’m not here to push our business. I’m just here to answer questions and help out as much as possible.

What other mitigation is there to avoid needing a pump/tank if you’re right on the line?

  • Upsize line to the house, loop a system without any extra elbows and run a loop system on house and that will eliminate the backflow preventer. Has to be tied into toilet – or two toilets, if it’s a two-story house. Different avenues to eliminated backflow preventer – that reduces the pressure. New meters are called an IPearl — digital reader. New meters are better than elbows. Less loss of pressure – ten pounds can be lost between meter and backflow preventer. City requires this type of meters.
  • Meetings with fire departments – to figure out best plan of attack is. There have been three changes with fire department. Digging up street is last minute resort. Believe its

Do you put the lines to the house?

  • City takes you to the meter, then your plumber brings you to back of meter, across the sidewalk to your backflow preventer and from the preventer to your house. We just size everything to make sure it’s capable of supplying the pressure and flow.

Do you design systems or just install?

  • We design and install.

Average or price range? High and low of what you’ve seen so far. Can you lead us through the process? What lead time do you need?

  • Averaging low side $3.50 to $5.00 per sq ft. Depends on number of rooms, size of house – there’s several factors. Ideally, once you have plan approval, we would like to get set of plans — usually within a week or so we can provide quote. At that time, if you’re in agreement with the quote, contract gets signed, and we get you on the list. We want to know when the foundation is going in and when the framing will be started. We have a timeline with the fire dept. — they’re roughly at five to ten days of turning around approved plans for fire survivors. Once approved, property owner gets plans. Let them know once your cans are set for your electrical. One of our pet peeves is aesthetics are important to us. We don’t like seeing one light over here and a sprinkler head over there not in alignment. We pride ourselves on this. What typically happens…contractor will say my electrician is going to start Monday and it’s going to take them 7-10 days to set the cans. We want to line them up with the cans.

When you say $3.50-$5.50 that’s per square foot of the house?

  • We are sprinkling the garage and all the rooms of the house. Exceptions (per code): closets that are under three square feet or 24 sq ft total; bathrooms that are under 55 sq ft as long as there isn’t any combustibles in the bathrooms. We usually sprinkle the bathrooms anyway.

Does that pricing include all the parts and the labor?

  • That price includes design, materials, and installation. We are complete shop.

Would you say that the timing as being right after the cans are set is pretty typical across the industry?

  • SH: Yes. At least on our side. Not all contractors do that, but we are one of them.
  • BC: Some get done earlier because they’re less traffic. I’ve heard some say they’ll do ducting first, then sprinklers, and then electrical
  • SH: Yes, we can do it before cans are set as long as they mark the location on the floor so we can measure off of them.

What is the price of the pump and the tank?

  • Rough price – the City of Santa Rosa Fire Dept. said it has to be tied into your domestic also. With that being said, the new rough proposal is anywhere from $7500 up to $9000. That’s installed.

Are you getting calls asking for cost estimates for insurance?

  • Yes

What is the minimum psi you can work with before you would need a pump & tank?

  • We’re getting systems to work with 50 psi. There’s a lot of intangibles for that. One being what size is the street main to the meter? If it’s one inch, it’s not a problem. Coffey Park had ¾” and we’re getting that to work with 60 psi. With that being the case, I lose roughly 12-15 psi and 15-20 feet of pipe just from the street main to the meter. And I haven’t even gone through the backflow preventer yet and up to the house. Without knowing exactly what you have, I can’t be specific without a calculation. Single story vs. two stories require different calculations. Start losing pressure with ¾” and two story house, but we’re making those work.

I’m sharing a T with a neighbor so I guess I’m okay assuming he doesn’t do anything?

  • Code states its each individual house. Odds are you have a one inch line coming over to your two meters and it splits off – quite a few of those in Coffey Park which helped out with the calculations. You’ll still get a new meter, have a one inch going across sidewalk to your new backflow, from there we’ll upsize going to two inch over to the house, and then from two inch you’ll have a main shut-off, and then you’ll have a T for your domestic with another shut-off and then our riser assembly above that.

I would like to use my pool as the tank, will I need a special pump?

  • The pool will be extra storage. Are you in the County? You’ll have a draft hydrant set up off of your pool. You’ll still need a pump and tank because there isn’t any pressure behind your pool.
  • Can’t use chlorinated water.

This is an ozone pool…

  • Haven’t done one like that. Will have to look into that. You’re going to have a pump and tank on your well anyway to make sure that covers the sprinkler demand.

Question for another BC: Are you passed this point? Have you gotten your pressure reading at the street? Do you know what it is?

  • BC: Plans have been submitted to contractor and I’ve asked him to let me know if I need a pump and tank because I want to explore every option out there. We just poured our foundation today, so…My assumption is that the pressure is at about 40 based on other areas that I know and the hydrant in front of my house.

We’re having a pressure test done Friday or Monday. Is that when they determine what the pressure is?

  • It depends on who is doing it. I’m guessing the sprinkler contractor already had some sort of reading prior to design.

Are there any special requirements going beyond two stories? We’re actually 2 ½ stories.

  • No, it’s based on the elevation from your meter.

So we won’t know until we’re well into this. How can we budget?

  • You can still budget. You can tell me you have a 3000 sq ft house, can you give me a budget? I’m going to tell you $15,000. It’s going to be on the upper end, but you’re going to be covered for the most part.

Do steep roof pitches affect anything?

  • It does for spacing. Steep roof pitches, we have to increase our flow.

Are there fire sprinklers in the attic space?

  • Per code, there is one sprinkler head located at or near your attic access, depending on relation to whether or not you have an HVAC unit up there. Sometimes one will work, other times two will be installed.
  • Research and tests have determined that a two head calculation – which would be found in a 16×12 room – will put out 26 gallons a minute. This is enough to suppress a fire long enough the residents to vacate and the fire department to arrive.

In attic – is it a flexible plastic line or copper?

  • It is a fire-rated CPVC (Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride is a thermoplastic produced by chlorination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, which is significantly more flexible and can withstand higher temperatures than standard PVC). Takes a blow torch for about five minutes to make it basically melt. It’s orange. Strictly meant for fire sprinklers. But it is allowed to be used in your underground if you plumber wants to install that vs. PVC or copper. It is drinking water safe.

Do systems have to be inspected annually?

  • Per code, it does not as of right now. State of California is pushing to have an extra line item added to required codes and testing, so it is coming, but no expectation of timing. Imagine existing homes would be grandfathered in.

Do you recommend an annual, biannual or every five year inspection?

  • It’s a lot for a homeowner to perform an inspection. Because it’s a local alarm only – a 6” bell on the outside of garage, front of your house, or under your eave – you can run it yourself. Let it run for a few minutes, flushes the system out. Rings the bells, annoys your neighbors and then you’re good to go. Bell is about 90 decibels. And yes, you’ll all going to have one of those. And there will be horn strobes – flashing beacon with audible alarm.

What causes the sprinkler system to go off?

  • (How much heat?) Big misconception is that if one sprinkler goes off, they all go off. This is not the case. It depends on where the heat builds up. If the head closest to the source of heat cannot suppress the fire enough, and the fire continues to grow and heads across the room, the sprinkler head above there will go off.
  • Temp heads on the sprinklers require 155 or 165 degrees of continuous heat to set off.
  • Attic heads have a higher temp head

When does it turn off?

  • It won’t turn off until you shut it off. On underground that comes in there is a shut-off for both domestic and sprinklers. If you ever work on your sprinklers, it’s designed so that you cannot use your domestic which forces you to turn sprinklers back on.

Can you turn them back on yourself?

  • Fire department will have to turn them back on. When sprinklers go off, the head plate pops off and reveals spearhead. Each install comes with a box of replacement spearheads. Fire department will pull out spearhead and replace it, along with the plate that popped off.
  • Plates manufactured by Senju Industry – have the lowest flow in the


  • Plates come in a variety of finishes, including faux wood grain.
  • Can be matched with paint chip of ceiling paint
  • Sprinkler heads have to be inspected before sheetrock goes up
  • Once sheetrock and paint up and homeowner ready for final inspection, Alpha comes and trims everything out and presents plans, instructions, and replacement heads to homeowner.
  • Exposed sprinkler head is minimally less expensive than those w/plates
  • Use one inch piping
  • Placement near fireplaces – code requires minimum of 60” from front of unit and 36” away from sides.
  • There are minimum code standards in place related to heat diffusers found in home
  • Have been approved by UAL fire industry standards

* * * *

Selecting Future Speakers – The group approved the following speakers:

  • 8-23 Fire Marshall Scott Moon & Gabe Osburn
    • Defensible space
    • Landscape
  • 8-30 Caerleon Safford, Public Information Specialist, Sonoma County Fire & Emergency Services; Coordinator, Fire Safe Sonoma County
    • Hardening structures – materials to use in a rebuild
    • County’s defensible space requirements
  • 9-6 ORR Community Recovery Planning Meeting.  Please note that the 9-6 meeting is a mini replica of the district meetings – Community Recovery Planning Meetings – that have been taking place across the county over the last two months. The Office of Recovery & Resiliency team will be running you through a workshop using the worksheets found here. Thought you might want to jot down any thoughts you have ahead of the meeting. Please note that you can also participate by taking the online survey found on the home page of the ORR website
  • 9-18 Horne LLC – Location TBD – Independent contractors hired by County to determine unmet needs

  • TBD – September – Representative from Senator McGuire’s office
    • FYI, he will be pushing for an extension of ALE as he has done successfully in Lake County the last two years
  • TBD Scope Writers/Fire Claim Assistance Groups
    • Professionals who comb through Xactimate report provided by insurance company

* * * *

Updates/Announcements/Follow-Up Items

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

8/9/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

State-Sponsored Debris Removal Program –Doug Bunnell from the County’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency, and Briana Kahn the County’s Public Information Officer

  • County & City are mailing letters to all fire survivors regarding debris removal and the insurance reimbursement process
  • Kahn solicited questions from the Block Captains to help build a robust set of FAQs that are accompanying the letters
  • Cost Reports” from FEMA – the documents that will reflect the per-property costs of debris removal for each property owner – are not anticipated for at least six months, possibly a year
    • County is establishing accounts so that property owners can submit payments to the Assessor’s Office in advance of receiving the Cost Reports – optional
      • Some Block Captains expressed they do not want to turn over their funds until all debris removal issues are resolved – either by public or private contractors
      • Vita encouraged Kahn and Bunnell to make it clear this advance payment was optional and that property owners could wait until later in case there were any policy changes down the road
  • County Counsel is working directly with the larger insurance companies so that fire survivors do not have to
    • This was met with some pushback from insureds who would prefer to work directly with insurance companies
  • Insurance coverage of debris removal
    • Amount provided may be a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of coverage; some policies ambiguous
    • Confirm definition of debris removal with insurance adjuster
      • Fire debris removal vs. typical construction debris removal
    • Possible scenarios include – if insurance provides $25,000 for debris removal, that is what property owner is expected to pay the government. If policy says you have 10% for debris removal and there aren’t any funds remaining at the end of the rebuild, property owner would not be billed.
    • Question: Can you use debris removal funds provided by insurance companies to populate the soil yourself
      • The County anticipates property owners who have had to remediate over-excavation out-of-pocket can deduct that expense from the billing amount in the Cost Reports – to basically add this amount to your rebuild cost. SAVE ALL RECEIPTS.
      • There may be an issue with soil compatibility when refilling overexcavated sites (see below notes)
    • A block captain reported his policy states a “reasonable amount” will be provided for debris removal. Who determines “reasonable?”
  • Over-Excavation
    • Claims are still be accepted for over-excavation – contact the Sonoma County Recovers Line at (707) 565-1222 between 8.00AM and 5.00PM
    • Relevant County or City staff are overseeing excavation remediation
    • Question posed – are those who suffered from over-excavation going to have to wait a year before they have issue of cost resolved?
    • Bunnell reported property reviews should be completed soon
  • Quality of soil – compatibility of soils is a concern – fill soil with existing soil – different compression levels
    • Bunnell reported OES is working with two different quarries to match soils as best they can
  • Concerns expressed by block captains
    • One block captain has been on the list, but property has not been inspected. Eric Lamoureux of Cal OES has not followed through with this block captain, whose property was used as an example as one that needed remediation – Kahn will address the issue during weekly meeting w/Cal OES
    • One report that the Cal OES has refused to communicate with a property owners soil engineer in some cases – will also be addressed at weekly meeting above

Sacramento Advocacy Day – August 8, 2018 – Two Block Captains reported out on their participation with Up From the Ashes in the lobbying day event in Sacramento

  • Disappointed more survivors did not participate
  • Some elected did not meet with the group
  • Survivors felt frustrated to be meeting with staff
    • Staff not taking significant notes
  • Group felt disregarded
  • Staffers would not speak to survivors who were not constituents
  • Survivors from Tubbs, Thomas, Nuns, Valley, etc. participated
  • Staff seemed to have no knowledge about the current legislation involving PG&E and inverse condemnation despite PG&E members being very visible at the Capitol as well as the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) Union
  • Question: what is the takeaway from this event?
  • Question came up – is there a way to bring forth a proposition or referendum approved by voters to prevent utilities from shifting liability?
    • Approach Patrick McCallum – Up from the Ashes

Recology Yard Waste Bins

  • Three donated greenwaste bins from Recology – pilot program
    • Cannot continue if bins are used as general dumping
  • After much discussion, group agreed to have all three bins placed at Nagasawa Community Park – safely out of the way of construction and rebuild vehicles
  • Call for a yard waste day/weekend/week
    • Labor Day weekend
  • Increase the ask to include a regular garbage bin to allow for people bringing waste in plastic bags
  • D3 office to ask for clearance from the City of Santa Rosa for placement in a city park
  • Nothing more than 2” in diameter can be placed in the bins
  • It was mentioned that the City had offered the use of chippers
  • Residential trash collecting can begin at occupancy

NBC News

  • Vita reported that Chris Chmura from KNTV-TV/NBC Bay Area was interested in doing a one-year special and is looking for ideas

Supervisor Zane will be donating $10,000 of her TOT funds (Transient Occupancy Tax) to Rebuild North Bay Foundation for Block Captains to use for agreed-upon expenditures

  • examples
    • Game cameras
    • Website
    • Signage
    • Bus to lobby in Sacramento on October 9
    • Bring ideas to August 30 meeting

Update on Congressman Thompson’s Office – Recovering phone numbers

  • A block captain reported Andrea Rodriguez in Thompson’s office helped her in her attempt to regain her lost phone number
  • Andrea will work with anyone who would like their number back
  • Comcast and AT&T are vendors and cannot return phone numbers – whatever utility provided the number originally may be able to get the number back

SBA Loans

  • Vita encouraged people to work with Andrea Rodriguez to look into reconsideration if previously rejected
  • An SBA loan would be in second position and it is not necessary to pay off existing mortgage

Rebuild Northbay Foundation

  • Have offered funding for potential events surrounding the anniversary of the fires
  • Location suggestions included Fountaingrove County Club and Sweet T’s
  • Potentially traumatic for some
  • Outreach for any event needs to include trigger warnings
  • Will have California HOPE counselors present

Owner of Sweet T’s property is planning to put in high density housing – 85 units, 3 stories, with parking under the buildings

  • 21 property owners in neighborhood have plans in place for rebuild and are not in agreement with the plan to build high density housing
  • One block captain is working with a group to have vendors and service providers present products and packages offered to fire survivors at potential discounts. Group brainstorming other vendors – water filtration systems, interior design, etc. Would like to partner with builders.

Lavish & Magnolia Home Entertainment presentations scheduled

  • Wednesday, August 15 – 6.00 to 9.00PM
  • Glaser Center/Unitarian Universalist Church, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa

Meeting with Postmaster – Monday, September 10, 2018

  • Discuss placement of mailboxes – community vs. individual
  • How long will temporary community boxes be in place?

Updates – D3 office to include remaining updates and announcements in a follow-up email

The below was sent in advance of the meeting notes.  But has tons of information!

Hello All,

Official notes from last night’s meeting will be forthcoming early next week, but below is the list of updates & announcements that I did not completely get through last night. Grab a glass of something cool and refreshing and have a read.


  • Supervisor Zane will be donating $10K of her TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) to the Rebuild Northbay Foundation, who will act as a fiscal agent for incurred expenses as deemed appropriate by the block captain group. Please bring ideas to the August 30 meeting.
    • Game cameras
    • Collaborative website
    • Signs
  • Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) and Volunteers Active in Disaster have opened a Resource Center at 141 Stony Circle, Suite 204 in Santa Rosa
    • Open House Monday August 20 at 5.30PM
    • Funded by grants and staffed by volunteers and nonprofits, the resource center has more than 30 partner organizations which can provide a wide variety of services
    • Two full-time case managers onsite to point fire survivors in the right direction for help with housing, financial assistance and advice, insurance assistance and many other topics
  • Legislative Questions for City of Santa Rosa
    • The City’s Communications & Intergovernmental Relations Officer has offered to field questions related to the City’s position on various pieces of fire-related legislation
    • If anyone has any questions, please send them to me and I will submit a list


Future Speakers:

  • Scheduled: August 30 – Caerleon Safford, Public Information Specialist from the County’s Fire & Emergency Services Dept.
    • Also a coordinator with Fire Safe Sonoma (mission: promote fire safety while protecting natural and manmade resources in Sonoma County through education, resource sharing & community cooperation)
    • Will discuss hardening structures
    • Review County’s defensible space requirements
  • In Progress:
    • Fire sprinkler contractor (working with North Coast Builders Exchange)
    • City of Santa Rosa Fire Dept. – defensible space requirements
    • D3 survivors Community Planning Workshop with the Office of Recovery & Resiliency
  • Potential Speakers:
    • Chris Godley, Emergency Manager/Fire & Emergency Services Dept
      • Alert system being tested in September
      • Potential info about future plans for COPE & CERT programs
    • Bob Oller – suggested by Gabe Osburn
      • Oversees the construction/capital projects and activities and provide updates in this area

Thank you all for taking the time to read through all of the above.

Hope you enjoy your weekend.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

8/1/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

Refine Issues List

  • Items 2 through 21 marked closed
    • Group in agreement
  • Items 22 through 25 – Crime
    • Discussion included thoughts that North Coast Builders Exchange should be partners with homeowners in preventing crimes/theft
    • Story shared about building experience in Southern California where builders hired security out of necessity
  • Items 26 & 27 – Finance
    • SBA Loans
      • Property owners had been encouraged to sign up; most were denied, accepted but were then denied, or offered very small amount; many missed deadline for reconsideration  because they gave up (assumed reconsideration another impossible hurdle and didn’t have time to pursue reconsideration because of other pressing rebuilding/ recovery tasks)
      • Vita to reach out to Andrea Rodriguez in Congressman Thompson’s office to look into extension of deadline
      • Reconsideration of a denied or rescinded or too-low loan may be simpler than a homeowner realizes
      • Big issue as this is a form of gap funding
      • Vita encouraged spreading the word that if anyone needs help with an SBA loan and does not want to pay off existing mortgage that they should reach out to Rodriguez
      • Vita to send out Rodriguez’s contact details and information regarding SBA and mailboxes
    • Exchange Bank – Not quite gap funding
    • Rebuild Our Community – group that is potentially working on funding on some level
  • Item 38 – Fire/Disaster Resiliency Now – Defensible Space
    • D3 staff to reach out to SR Fire Dept and the County’s Fire & Emergency Services to provide informational speakers at a future meeting – some block captains have neighbors in both jurisdictions
  • Item 41 – Landscaping
    • Most issues addressed in 7-26-18 BCM notes, and additional issues addressed by Gabe Osburn will be sent out to group
    • Keep item open until the City’s design template has been revised and reduced in size
  • Item 46 – Outreach
    • Jeanne Miskel working with Fountaingrove HOA to acquire some space on HOA website to post the agendas and minutes of the block captain meetings
    • D3 staff bringing outreach flyers to next meeting
  • Items 48 through 53 – Power & Sidewalks
    • Some of these issues have been addressed by either PG&E or the City
  • Question was raised about extending the PG&E deadline for permanent hookup beyond December 31, 2018 to allow for coordination with contractors
    • Upon further review, this deadline was for temporary power
    • D3 staff to reach out to PG&E to follow up on potential extension
  • Items 60 through 65 – Water Pressure & Quality (Benzene)
    • General agreement that these issues have been addressed and that the City has a plan in place
    • Leaving open to allow for check-in with Water Agency on testing results and overall status at end of August
  • Other Discussions Surrounding Issues List
    • HVE to receive community mailboxes temporarily, with service restored to what was in place before the fires
      • Need to define “temporary”
      • Ongoing question of curbside vs house-side delivery moving forward; HVE residents polling each other on this topic
      • Andrea Rodriguez to schedule a meeting with USPS postmaster office
    • Does the group want a representative from a state legislator – Senator McGuire, Assemblyman Wood?
      • What is state’s responsibility in helping fire survivors?
      • What can the state do?
      • How can they communicate better with survivors?
      • Are there state programs that can help survivors that group is not aware of?
      • Unable to know what matters could potentially be state issues
      • D3 staff to look into
    • Driveway code requirements
      • Reports that for driveways 150 feet or longer must have an adequate space for a turnaround for an emergency vehicle
      • Question of this being a City or County requirement and if post-disaster variances are in place.
      • D3 Staff to look into

Discussion of United Way Grants – see application

  • D1 Block Capn has proposed all three districts impacted by the fires to work together on short-term funding needs
    • Initial Needs List and Sign-up Sheet (reach out to Vita or Will Abrams (see the sign-up sheet for Will’s contact info) if interested in participating
    • Pooling resources will show multiple voices seeking assistance
    • Working together on UW grants will help create the larger needs assessment list for Horne LLC for the Federal Block grant (disaster recovery)
    • Idea to work closely with County officials to create strongest possible proposal
  • Rebuild Northbay Foundation reached out to D1 & D4 and offered to help fund potential events surrounding the anniversary of the fires

Recology Yard Waste Bins

  • Due to number of block captains not in attendance, this issue was tabled to a future meeting

D3 Fire Recovery Listening Session

  • Invite the County’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency to a meeting to listen to all fire survivors from D3 wishing to participate – not just block captains
  • Need to look into possible venue

Needs Assessment

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

7/26/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources – Notes Updated 8/8/18 (changes are in red text)

Please note: The August 2 meeting has been moved up to Wednesday, August 1 at the HR Training Center at 5.30PM.


Jennifer Burke – Deputy Director of Water & Engineering Resources, City of Santa Rosa

Gabe Osburn – Deputy Director of Development Services, Planning & Economic Development Department, City of Santa Rosa

Benzene Issue

  • Handout A – Post-Fire Water Quality Advisory available on City website
  • Handout B – “Safely Restoring Water Service to the Advisory Area” PowerPoint presentation here »
  • Fountaingrove that is in advisory area – within the green lines
    • If your property is outside those lines, water is not affected
  • Hidden Valley Estates (HVE) not in advisory area
  • Outside of advisory area
    • To date, City has identified 150 contaminated service lines at burned properties
    • Testing included areas surrounding the service line from the main to the meter, lines at adjoining properties, and fire hydrants
    • Have been flushing and replacing services lines – has eliminated contamination
    • City highly recommends property owners at the 150 sites of contamination replace the property side of the plumbing – from the meter to the home
  • Testing & Concerns
    • Since January, levels meet regulatory limits of 1 part per billion
    • Testing weekly – over 6,000 samples taken
    • Andrea Rodriguez from Congressman Thompson’s office following testing; confirmed aggressive and consistent testing taking place
    • Water being flushed is going into sanitary sewer or being absorbed into the ground in some places
    • No concern about soil absorption – Benzene is a volatile organic compound that volatizes upon contact with air
    • No concern about soil absorption – Benzene is a volatile organic compound that volatizes upon contact with air
    • No current limitations/advisory on irrigation
    • Soil has been tested in advisory area
    • Concern is focused on coming into contact with water entering the house – drinking, coming into contact with skin, inhalation
    • Test results can be obtained from City
    • Replacing service lines
      • City replacing services lines with copper
      • Property owners responsible for replacement from the sidewalk to meter; if service line is being replaced by the City (in advisory area or 150 properties outside advisory area) the City is replacing the line from the meter to the back of sidewalk
      • Property owners encouraged to tell contractor to replace line under the sidewalk – encroachment permit required if sidewalk is removed
      • Replacing lines under sidewalk also facilitates future irrigation to planter strip (area between sidewalk and street)

Pressure & Sprinkler System Issues

  • Coffey Park does not have same pressure issues as D3, so their domestic shut off value solution may not work in certain FG/HVE homes)
  • HVE and FG – essentially, there are no City infrastructure solutions to creating enough water pressure for fire suppression systems in all areas. Water delivery system physics are at issue, not equipment or materials.
  • Sprinkler system is not designed to save your house — it buys time for safe evacuation and arrival of fire department
  • There are backup generators at every pump station and reservoir
  • Burke reported Press Democrat article about hilltop water system failure contained some misinformation
    • Water ran out of every open hole on properties as the structures burned, therefore lowering pressure
  • Fire sprinkler system is sensitive to both the size of the line and the level of pressure — pressure doesn’t change based on size of piping, but increasing pipe size will allow a higher quantity of water to come through at once (increase in gallons per minute flow)
    • They provide fire sprinkler plan to building contractor
  • In general, if pressure is below 50psi, a pump and possibly tank is going to be needed. ADDITION – Fire Department is seeing systems successfully designed at 40 PSI in the Fountaingrove area without pumps. This will be a site by site determination.
  • Recommendation to have contractor use pressure gauge on surface once water service is reactivated
    • Check pressure several times to determine an accurate range
    • Check numbers at base of fire hydrants – provides a baseline pressure reading
    • Pressure fluctuates daily – 50 psi can turn to 40 or 60 due to demands placed on system
    • Loss or gain of half a pound per foot of elevation
    • Fire Sprinkler contractor can also perform flow test (bucket test) to determine available flow at service point.
  • HVE has a band of pressure of 50psi running through (not the burned area)
  • Question arose about areas with low pressure but good flow (If decent pressure in the 50psi range but long run to house)
    • Natural phenomenon of “friction loss” slows down water as it flows through pipe
    • Increasing size of pipe will allow better flow while not affecting pressure
  • Not all homes will require a tank – perhaps just the pump
    • Size of tanks vary, but many low-profile ones
    • Average cost for 1500-2000sf home between $2000-3000 (but that is based on current averages—the City does not see the actual costs as part of the permitting process.
    • Per a BC: Some insurance providers offering more than that in coverage
    • Per Fire Marshall Hardage at a prior meeting, if a sprinkler professional is only offering a very expensive option, and/or only 1 option for fire suppression system, seek other estimates
  • Question arose about option of having a gray water system in place from irrigation in conjunction with water needed for sprinkler system
    • Gabe to look into
  • Need to be creative with plumbing plans
  • Gabe offered to review other questions that have come in and respond in writing – which would ensure that there isn’t anything lost in translation in the note-taking

Permit – Code Cycles

  • Normally property owners have two years to build once permit is pulled, or have to reapply
  • City is allowing extensions, recognizing there may be issues down the road
    • eg., contractor leaving; construction going sideways
    • essentially, keep in good contact with the City, who will work with you to extend as long as good faith efforts to continue rebuilding/looking for a replacement contractor/overcoming issues, etc.

Landscaping – Tree Planting/Removal

  • City is responsible for median strip down middle of Fountaingrove Parkway
  • Property owners responsible for planter strip – section between curb and sidewalk, but City provides list of approved trees*
  • Normally bigger contractors doing a full neighborhood build would plants trees for continuity and uniformity in neighborhood
    • Not the case with multiple contractors involved in rebuild
    • Arborist hired by City to identify trees in planter strips that require removal
      • Should be completed by September.  UPDATE: Estimated completion date has changed.  Based on current discussions with Parks, it looks is if the Arborist analysis will be completed in December of this year
      • Affected trees will be removed by City
      • Gabe will work with City on building a process that would allow property owners to tag trees they wish to keep – ultimate decision relates to safety
  • The City can not commit to reinstalling the landscaping in the planter strips at this time. There are both state and local codes that place this responsibility on the property owner. Due to this fact, the City likely cannot obtain FEMA reimbursement for any replanting. The early discussions involved the concept of tracking down grants to assist with the replanting. It’s too early to tell if this will be a reality.
    The City will only be removing trees that did not survive the fire (as determined by the arborist).  If the trees are coming back, it’s highly doubtful that they will be removed.  I will chat with the Parks Department regarding the concept of the property owner tagging trees that they would like to keep. I’m guessing that these trees will be showing signs of life and will likely not be identified by the arborist as a removal.  There isn’t a September deadline at this point. I received an email from Parks and it looks like the tree removal has been push out to December.
  • Question arose about handling trees that pose a hazard to neighboring lots
  • Some trees on the creek on Leete belong to Clear Ridge Development
    • Contact Superior Management Co., Jasmine Olsen 707-523-1360
    • If there is not a timely response, HVE neighbor can contact Jeff Miller who will look at obtaining additional HOA board contact info
  • City looking into which City agency is supposed to deal with compromised trees near the creek that pose a hazard to homes
    • Gabe checked: with Capital Projects team on bridge cleanup issues (Stagecoach)
      • Project to repair three fire-damaged pedestrian bridges: 1) Francis Nielson Park Bridge, 35′ x 6′ foot wide wooden pedestrian bridge 2) Parker Hill Road Bridge north, 40′ x 7′ steel pedestrian bridge with wooden deck 3) Parker Hill Road Bridge south, 40′ x 7′ steel pedestrian bridge with wooden deck.  Construction is scheduled to begin in April of 2019

Landscaping – General/Requirements for Occupancy

  • Some level of landscaping in place before occupancy
  • City designed ~ eight plans to choose from
    • Supposed to mitigate property owners need/cost to engage landscape architects; City to work on the plans to make that doable for homeowners and not require landscape architects
    • City wants to at least see a plan in place
  • Keep it simple
    • Determine placement of walkway
    • Indicate which plants in plan need to be removed or moved because of placement of walkway
    • Determine which side of house irrigation placed — draw red line showing this
  • California State Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance for residential landscapes over 5,000 sf
  • Three options
    • Completely landscape per one of City plans
    • Reduce plant count by 50%
    • Plant a tree, put down mulch (or wildflowers) & irrigation
      • Soil treatment (covering with mulch, etc) critical for weed abatement
  • For occupancy purposes – plan in zones
    • Focus on actual front yard, not strip on side of driveway or planter strip
  • City understands that the current landscape requirements need to be simplified and are working on it:
    • Gabe working on reducing landscape plans from seven to two pages – irrigation and landscape
    • Gabe to look into sourcing materials for irrigation systems
    • Ultimately, City does not want landscaping issues to interfere with occupancy – homeowners to continue to work with the city for minimum requirements
    • The templates are supposed to offer many plant options so that plant shortages are not an issue
    • City is working with Coffey Park and HVE homeowners on simplifying plans and requirements.

7/31/18 Additional Responses from Gabe to Landscape Questions

Question:  There are a lot of stressed-out survivors with anger toward the city about the landscape approval time frame. We seem to concur about importance and compliance of low water landscaping; however, the encompassing feeling is that, in the face of unprecedented disaster, the city must focus on getting survivors in their homes, getting dollars back into our economy and realistically, defer the landscape process further with new timelines. Perhaps there can be warnings and fines for those who don’t comply?

Answer:  I completely understand the angst surrounding this topic.  This is definitely one of the longer running issues and we’ve been attempting to create a workable solution since a few months after the fire.  Low water use landscaping is actually a State requirement.  It’s also in the building code as a CALGreen requirement. The state currently has a model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance that applies to all new or replaced landscaping installed under a building permit process.   Local agencies are required to adopt the ordinance.  Based on the concerns we’ve heard thus far, we’re looking at implementing the following options for landscaping:

Option 1 – Custom Landscape Design

Hire a landscape architect or landscape designer to develop a custom irrigation and landscape plan for the site.  The plans must meet all the requirements within the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance.  Plans must be submitted prior to sheetrock inspection and all landscaping and irrigation components must be installed prior to occupancy.

This is the method utilized on all new homes that are constructed outside of the fire damaged areas.  We’re also seeing it being used by some of the larger developers in Coffey Park and it will likely be fairly prevalent in the custom homes in Fountaingrove as well.  This option does have a tendency to have a higher price tag due to the additional design cost. 

Option  2 – Use Template Plans Provided by the Partnership

The template plans can be modified by the property owner to include desired plant types.  Plant types must stay within the same usage category (low water use plant exchanged for low water use plant).  This is needed to maintain the ratio of low and moderate water use plant types included on the plan.   The overall plantings can also be reduced to defer costs. Property owners can reduce plantings by simply changing the plant counts in each irrigation zone.  Plant types may be reduced by 50%.  We’re currently discussing allowing a further reduction to possibly 25%.  Property owners may also elect to defer any plantings shown in the narrow landscape strip that exists adjacent to the driveway (on a rectangular lot), as well as the planter strip adjacent to the curb. The tree count may not be reduced.

Maintaining the tree count, reducing all plant counts by 50% (possibly 25%) and deferring any landscaping installation in the strip adjacent to the driveway and the sidewalk planter strip will be recognized as the minimum amount of landscaping required prior to occupancy.

Option 3 – Use Template Plan and Defer Minimum Amount of Landscaping

I think this is the solution you’re requesting above.  It starts with selecting the minimum amount of landscaping above.  The property owner will then be able to defer the installation of the minimum landscaping until 2 years after occupancy.  This concept will still require some improvement to the front yard prior to occupancy.  We will be looking for the following:

Tree planting as show on the selected template plan

Soil amendment (rototilling)


Pipe chases installed under sidewalk for future irrigation lines

Property owners signs an agreement to complete landscaping in 2 years

These requirements are designed to hold off weeds for the 2 year period, allow the irrigation system to be easily extended in the future and provide some softening of the buildings through the installation of the tree.

Question:  Those aware of the Saving Water site misunderstood how to utilize the site plans. I explained to them that, as per my visit to Room 6/RCRC, a properly drafted landscape + irrigation plan, modified to their site, must be submitted. During the same visit to Room 6, it was recommended by staff that a landscape professional be hired for this task, to which I commented that a lot of people rebuilding don’t know that. The misconception by people rebuilding was that a chosen plan could simply be printed out and submitted for approval, and that the modification would happen later, on site. If their builder doesn’t have a professional on payroll, people need to know that they need to hire a one ASAP, to get in line.

Answer:  You can have a design professional assist you with the utilization of the plan, but this is definitely not required.   I’m sorry that you were told this at the center.  I believe this was a reaction to the format of the template drawings.  On the surface, they are a bit complex.  We all wish that they would have been prepared in a fashion that was easier for the property owner to understand.   The meeting we were trying to schedule last week was intended to offer an opportunity to walk you through the steps needed to modify the template design.  We met with a small group from Coffey Strong last Thursday and it seemed to be very helpful.  They definitely gained a better understanding of the process.  It is actually fairly easy to modify the plan once the concept is understood.  We’re developing a few “how to” resources associated with the plan modification and we’re hoping to get some direct feedback and determine where people are really struggling.

Question:  Also, during my visit to room 6, I was told that the Saving Water site was still incomplete – which was not helpful – and that the city wasn’t letting the landscape approval deadline and process hold up the building process. My relief was short lived. When I arrived home minutes later, my husband and I received the Plan Review Comment List response to our permit application. Page 3, item 2 completely contradicted what I was told. It stated that landscape plans shall be submitted and approved before sheetrock inspection. This conflicting information was confusing, frustrating and made us lose confidence in that department. (This was the second time the desk has given us incorrect rebuilding information.)

Answer:  When did you visit the center? The site and the plans are currently complete.  There will be additional resource guides developed to assist with the utilization of the plans.  The requirement to submit irrigation plans has always been set at the sheetrock stage.  This requirement is listed in our submittal guideline document, which was developed a few months after the fire and has been widely distributed.  Prior to the template plans being available, we were allowing the building plans to simply state the property owner’s desire to use the template drawings.  We actually had a few owners occupy prior to the partnership completing the plans.  We did not hold up that process.  Depending on when you visited the center, the information may not have been incorrect.

Question:  Having worked in the busy landscape industry of Oregon (nurserywoman, landscape tech and drafter), I was very concerned about landscape architect availability and their capacity for new projects in a fire ravaged area with over 5300+ homes. I contacted several landscape architecture firms throughout Sonoma County and got a dismal response. Just 3 firms returned my calls – after a few weeks! One firm was a ‘no’ right away (no longer had a landscape architect). The other two were swamped with existing customers and projects. Only one could squeeze me in for an estimate.

Answer:  Please see above.  A landscape architect is not required if you’re using the template plans.

Question:  Concerned about drought plant availability for over 5300+ homes, I then talked to some landscape professionals and even visited a very large local nursery. Everyone is concerned about available stock and feels the city is not aware of shortages. The nursery admitted that some of their drought tolerant mainstays have yet to arrive from growers due to lower spring/summer temperatures affecting growth vigor. Some plants are not even available in 4” pots due to stock going to the Nuns fire landscape recovery projects. I encouraged them to attend some of the city meetings to help everyone understand challenges sourcing living plant materials in a disaster zone and how this skews timelines. I hope they do. This nursery encouraged people rebuilding to maintain monthly contact with them to see what their stock is looking like. They cannot hold stock indefinitely since it’s living material and needs to go into the ground.

Answer:  The ordinance controls the overall water use of the site and does not necessary require all drought tolerant plants.  You can actually install high and moderate use plants in low quantiles.  There is also a path to get small amounts of turf.  Availability of materials was a concern in the early stages of the rebuilding process and will continue to be a concern throughout.  There likely will be issues during periods in which construction is running rampant.  The 5,000 units will be metered out in some fashion over the course of some undefined period of time.  Suppliers are adjusting to the peak demands and contractors are sourcing materials over a wide range.  I can’t say that we won’t see more significant issues on this front in the future.  If that turns out to be the case, we’ll try to find ways to free things up from a policy standpoint. 

Question:  Overall, most survivors I have had discussions with seem to be on board with installing drought tolerant plants. They want a low water, low expense and low maintenance landscape. However, our both razor sharp and exhaustive focus and deepest yearning is to be home, get our feet on the ground and our heads on straight. Every step in the rebuilding process is unbelievably problematic, complicated and immensely overwhelming. We don’t have the capacity right now in our struggle to pick plants, deal with shortages or stress out about not getting callbacks from landscape firms or hear that they are booked out for months. The thought of landscaping delaying occupancy is beyond upsetting, unthinkable and unacceptable. We’ve already seen the stress of rebuilding drive away friends and neighbors. For some in our circle who are teetering on the edge, dealing with the landscape process might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We don’t want to lose any more good neighbors.

Answer:  I do understand the frustrations and I know the various layers of development can be incredibly complicated for individuals that do not do it on a regular basis. It’s often very challenging for those that do it for a living.  Installing landscaping as part of the development of a new home is a pretty standard process.  It’s been occurring on new home construction in Santa Rosa for as long as I can remember.  The installation is typically always performed prior to permit final.  Contractors are accustomed to working this aspect into the overall coordination.  The solutions we’ve provided further simplify the process due to the fact that they do not require the services of a licensed professional. The home owner can install the majority of landscaping after occupancy.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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For more information on District Block Captains:

7/17/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting + Resources

County Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) – John Kessel and Christel Querijero
The Block Capns (BCs) asked this question: What is the connection between input from the resiliency listening sessions (see more here and on this ORR Recovery Town Hall Flyer), the consultant hired by the County (Horne LLC), and state and federally funded programming and resources, particularly with respect to fire recovery?  Or, How do they help fire survivors?

  • August 2: Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa
  • August 8: Veterans Building, 126 First St., Sonoma
  • In addition, a Spanish language Community Meeting is being planned and details will be announced shortly.
  • ORR: This is one of the key storytelling and listening tools. Community engagement is a requirement to apply for public money (state and federal grants).
  • BCs: There is a concern that resources will not directly benefit fire survivors.
  • ORR:
    • Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds must benefit individuals and families directly impacted by fires (fire survivors). Needs assessment determines how funding is spent. Not sure yet how the pie will be divided. State and federal government will decide how the money is allocated. Different funding streams will address various aspects of recovery and resiliency.
    • There will be more opportunities to provide input outside the workshops. The needs will evolve at three, six, nine, twelve, eighteen… month milestones. The needs assessment will need to be a living document.
    • These 5 meetings are not the only way or time for input; fire survivors should decide if they want to engage now or later.
    • These meetings include planning for allocation of non-disaster funds as well as disaster-recovery funds.
  • BCs:
    • People who lost homes are experiencing a very different reality than other impacted community members. Effort should be directed at keeping fire survivors here, rebuilding, recovering.
    • How do we support disaster survivors in particular, as we face future disasters?
    • Would like more of a navigator type of assistance from local government.
  • ORR: Some middle class/income people are failed by the system because they do not qualify for traditional needs-based assistance, nor are they wealthy enough to absorb significant and mounting extra costs. They are exhausting emotional and financial reserves faster than populations below and above their income threshold.
  • BCs: Another perspective is to keep focused on fire emergency planning and all disaster resiliency matters (defensible space) as local fire prevention efforts might affect insurance company policies/prices in our WUI zones.

No Trespassing Signs

  • Neighbors recommend putting “no trespassing” signs on properties. One neighbor notices people walking around the area without regard for private property.

PG&E Issues

  • PG&E issues persist. Sense is that they are not being accommodating in context of rebuild (won’t accommodate adjoining neighbors in the County (not City) who want to share a new power pole)

Large, widespread problems (like water infrastructure) need public subsidies.

  • Should not be on individual homeowners to address one by one. (County recovery grant writer suggests we put together a simple needs assessment to guide grant application efforts. Michelle and Tracy can help with this with input from Block Captains).

Topics for Gabe to address on 7/26/18

  • FG – Benzene
    • New data on Benzene levels and new map with Benzene levels.
    • Benzene presence during construction. Clarify risk and potential liability to homeowners if water contamination causes problems outside their property boundaries
    • Can City provide temporary carbon filters during construction so that property owners don’t accidently spread contamination if Benzene is present in their water?
  • Water Pressure (HVE, FG)
    • What about water pressure issues in each neighborhood? Can city isolate/identify/provide data on pressure, street by street? Need more definitive answers to pressure questions as relate to state code mandated sprinklers. In Redwood Valley a state grant funded new water infrastructure to mitigate pressure issues. (Can add this to needs assessment noted above).
    • Large, widespread problems (like water infrastructure) need public subsidies. Should not be on individual homeowners to address one by one. (Can add this to needs assessment noted above).
  • Public Landscaping
    • New Trees in Sidewalk
      • Who owns tree re-planting?
      • Residents to influence selection and size
      • Some want replacements larger than 5 gallon size
      • Less allergenic trees?
      • Some wish to not have trees replaced
    • Parker Hill Road tree limbs need to be cut (this may have been resolved already)
    • Burnt trees in public space (eg along Paulin Creek in HVE) that pose imminent danger to standing homes or burnt lots with planned or current rebuilding – how to report and resolve?
    • City/County responsibility and timeline for cleaning up public areas, eg the Parker Hill creekside path from Leete to Stagecoach?
  • Rebuild Landscaping
    • Burnt trees on empty lots that pose imminent danger to adjacent lots – how to report and resolve?
    • Will City mandate replacement of heritage trees with like-kind in lots that do not support large trees – in contradiction with defensible space
    • Rosie P’s questions. She will hopefully provide an updated list to Gabe directly before July 26.
      • Santa Rosa sample landscape plans still not ready, but the City won’t hold up rebuilding due to this. Will occupancy permits be issued if front landscaping isn’t done?
      • The City also said that the City’s front yard landscaping plans still need a professional (landscape contractor or architect) to draft it up to a homeowner’s specific site’s specs for review. Is that true? That is yet another expense. And those professionals are already fully booked.
      • Non flammable mulch? I have a photo of the mulch in my front yard smoking and burning. I know we are restricted in the amount of gravel what about fabric weed block and River Stones instead?
      • Irrigation Item – Can your department provide a listing of approved suppliers/products so we can be confident we purchase appropriate and approved supplies?
    • There is a conflict between drought tolerant landscaping and fire resistant landscaping. What is the regulatory agency for these requirements? (Question for Gabe?)
  • Permit “life” Span
    • The permit is valid for one year with possibility of extension. If you ask for extension, you will have to update the plans to current code, you will not have to go through soil engineering…if nothing changed structurally on your lot.
    • If you don’t start building for one year, and you ask for an extension, how long does the extended time period last?
  • Misc (not for Gabe)
    • After weed abatement, where does the green waste go? Disposal options? Recology? (Michelle got Recology to donate some green waste bins. Placement can be discussed at next block captain meeting).
    • Can Sonoma County’s health lab provide water testing services for fire survivors? (Michelle will look into this).
    • Fence Setback Clarification (Reported by JT from the City of Santa Rosa rebuild center 7/18/18, see accompanying City of Santa Rosa .pdf, p. 10 of Ord. No. ORD2017-018)
      • Pre-fire setbacks can be grandfathered.
      • You can rebuild your fence at the pre-fire setback (with same height) if rebuilding commences before October 9, 2020. The permitting person compared pictures of pre-fire lot from their database, the setback of my fence, looked at my neighbor’s fence to check that they have the same setback than me. Note: the actual code is: 3′ height fence permitted within front and side setbacks, 6′ height fence permitted outside front and side setbacks. Front and street side setbacks are 10′, measured from back of sidewalk or property line whichever is more restrictive. This mainly is a concern for neighbors along Parker hill road (traffic, privacy). So it might be wise for those not rebuilding right away to at least put their fence back if their fence does not meet the actual code. I attached the section of the ordinance that the permit person kindly copied for me because you might want to show it to your builder: my builder insisted on building my fence with a 10′ setback from back of sidewalk.

Warmest regards,
Michelle Whitman
District Director to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
575 Administration Drive, Room 100A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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For more information on District Block Captains:

7/12/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

Construction/Rebuild Complaints (eg inappropriate construction traffic patterns)

Visit the City of Santa Rosa Complaint portal on its website (a device app is also available). Look for the “Resilient City Fire Rebuild” module. If not resolved by going to the above website, contact Bob Oller, Construction Management, Planning and Economic Development, Engineering Division, Tel. (707) 543-4610 |

Weed Abatement – Responsibility of all property owners, including those of empty, burned lots.

  • Answers to primary questions parsed out of the City’s online weed abatement information Here» and detailed at the City of Santa Rosa weed abatement page ».
  • Potential question for Gabe Osburn – Who is responsible for untended parcels on hills that do not seem to belong to individual property owner; areas near Keysight (this issue has been put on our master issues list)

Recovery Planning Community Meetings & Rescheduling Meetings

  • Concerns were raised about the five strategy areas County officials are looking for input on
  • Feedback from someone who attended D4 meeting was that there wasn’t any discussion about specifically helping fire survivors
  • Area that comes closest to addressing needs of fire survivors is housing; at the 4th District Recovery Planning Community meeting, the feedback focused more on general homelessness, farm workers, and the need for a living wage.

While discussing rescheduling the August 2 meeting due to the 3rd District Recovery Planning Community meeting being the same evening, we considered:

  • D3 Block Captains should spread out their attendance and cover all of the remaining community meetings to ensure their voices and needs are heard
  • An organizational meeting to prioritize the group’s needs must be scheduled before going to community meetings
  • There was a report that Red Cross was distributing checks again and the question arose of who is determining the needs and how are funds applied for?
  • The County has hired a disaster recovery consulting service – Horne, LLP – to conduct needs assessments and manage the grant process for the anticipated federal and state funds coming in. Consultant was present at D4 Block Captain meeting
  • Vita to send out Doodle to gauge availability for a replacement date for the July 19 meeting that has been cancelled due to United Policyholder’s workshop; Need to determine if D3 staff is available on other evenings
    If group cannot meet, will try to spend 7-26 meeting prioritizing;
  • July 17 mtg has been scheduled; Michelle Whitman will be available to host at County

Recovery Community Planning Meetings (info obtained after the meeting):

  • I also reached out today to the Office of Recovery & Resiliency (ORR) to follow up on the questions and concerns raised last night. This is the County office that is conducting the community planning meetings. The Board of Supervisors – who previously determined what the five strategic areas were to be – wants input from our community on how best to move forward in the recovery and rebuild process.
  • While obviously not everyone in the County suffered the devastating losses all of you did, the fires did impact our whole county community on many levels – including the economy, businesses, workforce, infrastructure, mental health of residents etc. Because so many people have expressed that the fires impacted them on some level, and the feeling that everyone cares about a successful rebuild and recovery period, the Board of Supervisors have a strong desire to receive input from all segments of the community.
  • I did receive a strong message from ORR – which I believe is the sentiment shared at the meeting – all of you should absolutely be attending these meetings – expressing your needs and sharing your concerns, suggestions, and thoughts so that your voices are heard along with everyone else’s.
  • This is a listening session. It’s not a town hall to provide answers to questions. It is truly intended to provide the Board with opportunities to hear what the members of our community all want and need.
  • Questions about federal and state funds coming our way:
    • These community meetings are not tied to the federal/state funds potentially being allocated to Sonoma County
    • The disaster recovery consulting services firm approved of by the Board – Horne, LLP – will be conducting needs assessments in each District impacted directly by the fires to determine where those funds go
    • This will likely be a year-long process
    • Decisions will be made based on needs regardless of the order the assessments are completed
    • Horne, LLP will attend a D3 meeting in the next few months to provide information about the process
    • There are ways to prepare for this, which will be shared in more detail at the next BCM meeting
    • This is an ORR-managed contract; Horne, LLP will work directly with ORR, which is part of the County Administrator’s Office


Sonoma Clean Power – Rachel Kuyendall;

See this NTSR page » and Sonoma Clean Power » and this SCP page » for more detailed info.

Advanced Energy Rebuild – Incentive Packages Tailored to Sonoma & Mendocino Counties

  • Advance Energy Option (Gas and Electric) vs. All Electric (cannot have gas line to house or gas meter installed; Propane (smaller tanks, eg for bbq grills) only allowed outside of home; gas line can be installed later, after incentive program completed)
  • Timing
    • Happy to look at applications in advance
    • Feel free to engage ahead of time to ensure you have everything on the checklist, but cannot submit applications until permits are in place
    • SCP needs access to building before drywall goes up
  • Required appliances
    • If working through prescriptive option, all appliances must be Energy Star
    • If working through enhancement option, more choices exist
  • Pools at all electric homes
    • Best option would be a heat pump water heater
    • Moves cold from inside pool to outside before cooling (much like a refrigerator moves heat from inside fridge to outside before generating cool air)
  • Vehicle charger station (equipment only; not installation)
    • Free for every SCP customer (don’t have to be rebuilding)
    • Can be indoors or out – whatever makes sense for your home
    • Compatible with all auto models except Tesla, which requires an adapter
    • Not required to own an electric vehicle at present
    • Hard wired or plug in (can move to next house) available

County’s Energy & Sustainability Division – Christine Condon – See this NTSR page »  for more info

  • Free 90 minute homeowner consultations 707-565-6470 for appointment
  • Find ways to make homes more energy efficient – many improvements/additions cannot be added later on
  • Help your rebuild meet Sonoma Clean Power energy efficiency incentive requirements
  • Help your rebuild meet current or even 2020 energy efficiency standards
  • Property owners are not limited to that one consultation – no limit to number of times you check in to ensure every requirement met, every step covered
  • Recommend homeowners and their builders come in prior to submitting permits, but happy to meet after permit approved, too.
  • Building Codes
    • Updates occur every three years, next big update takes effect January 1, 2020
    • If you submit for your permit by December 31, 2019, covered under current code year (“2016” code)
  • Energy Efficiency Team (your builder/contractor should be hiring these professionals on your behalf or you can hire them to work with your builder. SCP website
    • Energy Analyst
      • Not legally required to hire a Certified Energy Analyst (CEA) – but highly recommended – codes requirements are rigorous
      • NOTE: a CEA is required for the SCP incentive program
      • CEAs are required to be up-to-date on code changes
    • HERS Rater (Home Energy Rating System Rater)
      • Inspects and tests a home to evaluate the building code energy efficiency standards
      • Rating program established to address construction defects and equipment installation had historically not been done correctly
      • Measures cover HVAC, hot water system and insulation installation
    • CalGreen Special Inspector
      • California Green Building Code
      • Verifies Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) loads, sizing and duct design calculations completed
  • Better home design – considerations for new construction
    • For example…advanced framing – Designed to reduce amount of lumber used and waste generated in construction of wood-framed house
    • Considering solar down the road? Have contractor install conduit now

Anniversary of Firestorms – Community Input

  • On the agenda but not discussed. Email Tracy with suggestions.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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For more information on District Block Captains:

6/28/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

Informational Speakers

Mike Behler, General Manager, Behler Construction Company

(See Architect/Contractor/Builder Hints » for three useful handouts.)

• Engaged in commercial work only for right now. Family here since ~1900. Helping fire victims at no cost with simple tasks—i.e. writing letters to insurance companies about cost per sq ft to rebuild, reviewing contracts. Does not have the time to do full blown estimates. Has documents about how to select contractors, architects. In his opinion, “margin” is a scam, and he will address that.

• Ideally, there should be no surprises. Bring contractor on early. Demand accurate pricing, AIA (Architects Institute of America) contracts tend to be fair, neutral. 70% fixed prices, 30% up in the air is reasonable. To keep a project on track timewise, homeowners need to make decisions in a timely way. Can have a liquidated damages clause to account for slower than promised progress (i.e. $1,000 week for late projects). Check references! Hold retention (5-10%) to incentivize job completion.

• Common types of contracts have different tradeoffs—cost plus, fixed price, time and materials, lump sum with allowances—all have varying levels of certainty around cost containment. Solicit bids from as many subcontractors as possible. Demand copies of subcontractor billings. Options around billing include monthly, every two or three weeks. Don’t let them slide on the first bill because then they will slide on every subsequent bill. Be vigilant on tracking, reviewing bills. Contractors, suppliers usually have lien rights on your project until their bills are paid. Good contractors will show you copies of invoices, checks if requested, lien releases, etc.

• Preliminary liens are notices that a contractor will be working on your project and that they expect to be paid. Will come to you and your lender, if applicable.

• Work with a reputable builder, and don’t fall behind on payments.

• Contractors Licensing Board can only tell you whether the contractor’s license is in good standing. Have to do your homework—make sure they have insurance.

• Contractors often charge 12-25% markup (profit). Ask to see all costs, and markup should be calculated on bottom line. “Margin” is more convoluted way of calculating profit. “Job overhead” is the cost of doing the work (trailers, etc.).

• A lot of contractors don’t like “joint checks.” Keep up on the lien process. State Contractors Licensing Board has boilerplate templates for contracts, lien releases. Expect good level of detail in your pricing, bid documents.

• Production homes, production builders, are completely different situation. As long as you’re happy with the product, the line items are less of a concern.

• Economy of scale advantages if you can bundle projects with your neighbors.

• Mike is willing to do a workshop to provide an expanded version of information provided tonight.

• Be careful when contractors do all their own work. Can be a conflict of interest. Is he working in your best interests or in his own?

• Have insurance on your property while it is under construction.

• If construction worker gets hurt on your property either worker’s comp or personal health insurance should cover the injury.

• Different aspects of the project have different warranties. One year is standard. Latent defects are 10 years.

Gabe Osborn, City of Santa Rosa Planning and Economic Development
Deputy Director of Development Services
P: 543-3853; F: 543-3936

• Progress in Coffey Park is blazing the trail for FG and HVE.

• Public portal has all information re your lot. Centralized information Setbacks, fault lines, etc. (He/we spent a lot of time poking around this website.) More information will be added.

• Online tools more efficient utilization of staff and other resources. Information retrieval that would previously take a planner four hours can now be done in five minutes by the property owner or rebuild team.

• PG&E did a considerable amount of damage as they restored power. They will fix.

• 700 building permits already; will probably hit 1000 within first year. Biggest volume coming from production builders.

• Production homes are building at ~ $250-$300/sq. ft. in Coffey Park (early figures)

• Many Fountaingrove homes will likely be built in 20 home clusters by builders offering semi-custom homes, can take advantage of economy of scale to reduce price per sq ft. Fully custom homes will be one offs, no economy of scale, more expensive per sq. ft.

• Code updates on a three year update. Last adopted in 2016, so due in 2019. Can be minor midyear changes, always adopted July 1. Update this year is that windows and skylights have the same code requirements. What applies to your rebuild is the code in effect the date you file your permit.

• City and County different on landscape requirements. County doesn’t require front landscaping for occupancy, City does. Landscaping requirements kick in when you pull a building permit. Weeds must be knocked down on vacant parcels to mitigate fire danger, reduce fuel load. Homeowners who decide not to rebuild must mitigate storm runoff, for example with straw.

• Some zoning codes are flexible, others are extremely stringent. Be mindful.

• It is possible to put one house straddling two lots with a ministerial lot line adjustment if you own two lots.

• Signage is being created with contact info for code enforcement, reporting noise complaints. Santa Rosa Police is the contact for noise complaints.

• Gabe will be back on 7/26.

Just a reminder, the group opted not to meet this week. Our scheduled speakers for the July 12 meeting are:

  • Christine Condon – Energy & Sustainability Division of the County
  • Rachel Kuykendall – Sonoma Clean Power

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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For more information on District Block Captains:

6/21/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

Informational Speakers

AT&T: Rhuenette Alums, & Mike McAffee

1. Trenching

• Coordinating with PG&E on joint trenching

 AT&T has to follow PG&E as PG&E provides the trenching for all utilities

 Rural areas will take more time to get to

• Work done by PG&E or contractors hired

• PG&E financing joint trench; AT&T is just a participant

• PG&E is building laterals as people are ready to move in

 At that point, AT&T invited to participate

• PG&E should complete trench work by end of year

 AT&T believes they will be following right along

2. Materials

• Migrating to fiber optics

• May be occasional “one-offs,” but this is the plan

• Everywhere there is a new conduit going in, there is fiber going in

3. Phone service availability during a power outage

• Phones requiring electricity (eg a cordless phone) will not working during a power outage.

• IF you have an old-fashioned non-electric phone (remember the princess touch tone phones?)  plugged into one of the AT&T phone jacks, it will work during the first three hours of a power outage: The AT&T “box” outside the house has a three-hour battery backup. [Note: seeking ATT confirmation on this]

4. What Happens to land lines and cell towers if they burn again? Back-up Plan?

• Rhuenette reported there was a back-up plan in place

• Two lines (landlines) are in place – Both were burned – unprecedented in 40 years

• National disaster recovery unit that works on solutions to disasters worldwide is working with OES

• Have ability to put temporary cell tower on wheels and move to areas requiring triage but not for use in HVE now

5. Temporary Service During Construction

• Rhuenette had only just reached out to engineers to ask that question on June 20; did not have response yet

• Issue will be prioritizing the Sonoma County disaster with other disasters nationally

• Basically is an issue of available resources

6. Inadequate Cell Services before and after the fires.  Short answer:  Can’t just request to have new/additional cell towers in HVE.

• Topography makes service challenging

• Ask Keysight to place a tower on their property?

 Mike/AT&T responded that the cellular company must invite Keysight to do so and that the community has to weigh in as well

 Rhuenette – AT&T is identifying what the gaps are to have engineers enter into a database; an additional cell tower has been requested; once that is approved, they need to find a willing landlord

 Question of whether or not Cross Creek area can be included in potential new coverage

• Requesting a new cell tower

 Question of whether or not a federal advocate would be of help (Mike Thompson’s office)

 Question of how to collectively organize; need to know how to advocate and ask City of Santa Rosa to keep BC’s in the loop

 Rhuenette & Mike both said group needs to stay invested in the process from start to finish – attending City Council meetings

 AT&T can reach out to City of Santa Rosa to be a contributor

7. Management of Towers

• Cell towers are controlled by America Tower

• Cell phone companies are tenants on the towers

• Tower can only be built at request of a tenant

8. Outstanding Bills/Destroyed Equipment

• Rhuenette said homeowner insurance should cover cost of burned equipment

• Multiple 800 numbers under AT&T’s umbrella of customer service to address this

• Group expressed frustration at experience of poor customer service

• It was mentioned that Sonic and Comcast forgave the billing for burned equipment

• Contact Rhuenette if anyone still being billed

Kinderlin Codding, Sonic

1. Trenching

• Sonic is not present in the trenches

• Provide wholesale service via AT&T fiber

2. Differences Between Sonic and AT&T

• Customer service (verified by many in the room)

• Advocates Net Neutrality

• Big on advocacy of privacy

• Greatly reduced spam

3. Kinderlin a resident of HVE – open to hearing about more concerns

6/27/28 Clarification had been sought on the issue of whether or not non-electric corded old fashioned phones that are plugged into a phone jack would function during a power outage – assuming that the three hour battery backup at the box was functioning. Also, someone had asked me to find out what “Dig Once” meant. Response from Kinderlin Codding:

Regarding Sonic service and outage question follow up – Sonic service in the fire areas will be with our Fusion FTTN product. This means our phone lines will go out in a power outage. Customers that want their phone service to stay up would need to provide a UPS system. (a battery back up for Sonic’s equipment in the home)

Regarding Dig Once – some Cities are beginning to establish Dig Once Policies, meaning during any construction (open trench) project Cities and Counties put in measures that include broadband specific empty conduit that could then be made available to one or more providers to occupy.

6/27/28 Following are some answers to questions that have been raised by members of the group, as well as some additional resources:

Property Assessment Timelines

There had been competing beliefs going around about needing to complete rebuilds within a two-year period, or needing to at least break ground within two years or face a re-assessment. Below is the response to my email to County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Bill Rousseau on this matter:

It looks like property owners are getting confused on insurance law and property tax law. If the property owner has not transferred his/her property since the fire or purchased a replacement property, they do not have a time limit to rebuild. The two year limit is for insurance claims and not for property tax reassessments. If they are transferring their Prop. 13 base year value factor to another property within or outside of Sonoma County, then a time limit does apply. (Please point them to our website for questions on property tax exclusions.)

On the second question, same answer. They do not have to break ground within a specific time period to keep their Prop. 13 base year value factored. Please ask property owners to call our office with any reassessment questions. 565-1888

Building Code Updates

Not sure everyone had received the info from Patrick Mullin at Permit Sonoma, so including that here, as well as a confirmation from Patrick that July 1 is the effective date of the new updates – not the end of the calendar year.  (for both City and County)

From Patrick Mullin:

I reviewed the changes to California Building Code (CBC) Chp. 7A. The Wildland Urban Interface regulations had some changes made that could impact rebuilds but not in any major way.

The primary changes are:

The materials testing standards (ASTM) have been amended for testing building materials such as siding, deck wood, windows, doors… This should have little impact for homeowners.
Skylights now have to meet the same standard as windows. 1 pane of tempered glass.
Decking materials have more specific testing standards in order to meet WUI standards.
Accessory structures needing to meet WUI have been more clearly defined in terms of distance from main residence. It is still 50ft. but the code added clarification regarding accessory structures (detached garages, offices, barns, pool house…) and miscellaneous structure (trellis, arbor, gazebo, patio cover…).

In summation, the biggest changes are the testing standards for material suppliers and adding skylights to the same standards as windows.

As far as a County SRA/WUI map goes, CalFire has pulled its’ previous map and has not yet published an authoritative and stewarded version of a current SRA/WUI map, according to our
in-house GIS team.

What you can do is go to our website ,

select Online Tools
select Parcel Report
Enter your parcel number or your address and you can see if you are in an SRA or LRA, area along with a lot of other parcel information. State Responsibility Area’s (SRA) require Wildland Urban Interface standards (WUI). Local Responsibility Areas do not.

PG&E Info/Resources

CPUC high fire threat map (zoomable):

PG&E wildfire alerts (for updating contact info):

Public Safety Power Shutoff communications:

Community wildfire safety program details:

Click here: Know Your Overhead Lines flyer.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

6/14/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

Informational Speakers

Supervisor Shirlee Zane welcomed the group and spoke for a few minutes promising continued advocacy and support.

Legislative Update: Marissa Montenegro, Administrative Analyst, County Administrators Office (see attached handout for fire related bills)

  • Resource for tracking state legislative info is
  • Group disappointed that there wasn’t any follow up after Sen. McGuire town hall re: legislation. Would like to receive updates.
  • Pulling our voice together is really important.
  • Based on feedback at this meeting, next time Marissa speaks to the block captains, she expects to address:

   Timeline for legislative advocacy

   Tapping into unresponsive legislative subcommittee members

   Potential Lobbying day in early 2019 – BC group needs to provide clarification and details on what this looks like

County Update: Mike Gossman, Deputy County Administrator, Office of Recovery and Resiliency (see Slides

  • In terms of this disaster, object is to recognize strengths and weaknesses, mitigate weaknesses
  • Benefitting from grassroots efforts like SoCo Rises, Community Foundation
  • Community engagement is key to progress
  • After collecting stakeholder feedback there will be a Recovery and Resiliency Plan coming to Board of Supervisors for deliberation and adoption in September
  • 99% of burned structures and debris has been cleaned up
  • Cal OES pushed by local leaders to revisit unfinished cleanup, over excavation

   Target to be cleaned up by mid-August

   Problematic for some property owners who are stuck in a holding pattern

  • Some properties have more dirt than needed, some have less

   Is there a way to coordinate with Cal OES contractors to take advantage of both scenarios to balance out supply and demand

  • Federal and state government and contractors have been learning through this disaster

   This cleanup is on a scale none have dealt with previously

   May be a situation where with good intentions they over promised and under-delivered

  • Wattles

   If you have wattles that surrounded toxic debris, those may have toxins in them

   Contact us if you have these wattles and we can provide disposal guidelines

   Wattles that were for erosion control around clean dirt, then those can be used for mulch

   The burlap wattles are all straw.

  • County is pursuing funding partnerships, public and private, to help with rebuild and recovery
  • Future Informational Public Events

   Upcoming recovery and resiliency workshops in each Supervisorial District will be publicized by SoCoRises and CommunityFoundation Sonoma County

   The 3rd District workshop will be August 2, location TBD

  • Request to reach out to standing neighbors as well as fire survivors.

Group Discussion

  1. Agenda Setting
  • Topics for future agendas can be submitted by the group.
  1. Guest speakers & Sharing Info
  • Vita suggests speakers every other week, with off weeks available for area specific discussions

   Much pent-up demand for discussion

   Just sit down and talk when we don’t have a speaker

  • Would be helpful to know what speakers are coming to other block captain meetings, what topics are of universal interest, what questions are relevant to every group
  • Group members, like Matt, who are further along in the rebuild process can share their experience with this group, but what would that look like? When, where and how can people further ahead in the process share their knowledge?

   Everyone moving at different paces.

  1. Questions Arising
  • Doug would like to collect questions from his neighbors and submit to Tracy for answers. Tracy can submit to the subject matter experts.
  • Can we organize, sort questions into functional groups? Would also help with getting appropriate speakers to address the need.
  • Questions for the City – submit to and Should also submit to Tracy for the question master list.
  1. Communication
  • Looking for ways to improve communication between block captains, this group and their neighbors
  • What is the most efficient way to communicate?
  • Herb has offered to share what Mark West Estates is doing with their solar collective

   May be an economy of scale volume discount if anyone is interested in joining their initiative.

  • There are groups joining together on geotech surveys. Vita and Matt have contact info
  • One BC says Fountaingrove neighborhoods don’t to walk in lock step, difficult to get a group to work together

   Also, still so many people, especially in FG, who don’t know if they are going to rebuild

   FG HOA communications are not as good as could be – a weakness these property owners are forced to deal with

   Can the City help with connection to FG HOA. Ask Caluha. How effective can we be without an effective HOA?

  • Ask group to submit questions for Sonic and ATT

   I lost my phone number; how can I get it back?

   I am still paying for equipment lost in the fire. Can you help?

   How are you building resiliency into the emergency notification system?

   What if cell towers are burning? Land lines burning?

   What about copper infrastructure? True, non-electric land lines?

  • Group would like to be able to edit the question document.

Representatives from California Hope were in attendance, as well as Andrea Rodriguez from Congressman Mike Thompson’s office.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

6/11/2018 – Notes from Listening Session with City of Santa Rosa

3rd District Block Captain’s Listening Session w/City of Santa Rosa June 11, 2018

Water Update – Ben Horenstein, Director of Santa Rosa Water

Benzene contamination

1. Confined except for some isolated incidents

2. Partnering with multiple agencies and experts because of the unprecedented nature of events

3. 5,000 investigative samples have been taken

4. Clearing advisory areas is data driven

5. Sources of contamination
• Melted pipes & faucets – metal and plastic
• Smoke
• Soot
• Ash

6. Maximum Contamination Level (MCL)
• Benzene leaching out into system
• City flushing it out
• Biological process does break down benzene
• Water pressure would normally act to keep out contamination
 Pressure compromised during and after fires
• Actually fortunate leaching is happening before rebuild so it can be addressed
• Replacing water service lines has resulted in lower MCL

7. Path to restoring water service
• Every contaminated service line within advisory area being replaced as well as isolated areas of contamination
• City to pay for replacement of service lines from the main to the meter
• Property owners have responsibility to replace laterals from meter to house
 From sidewalks, when applicable
• Continuing to work with FEMA and CAL OES for reimbursement
• Water will be resampled after installation of new lines
• Phased approach allows for quicker resolution

• Anticipated completion date is August 2018

8. Water For Rebuild/Occupancy
• Water will be provided for construction and landscaping while work is being done to replace service lines
 Must post signs that water is not potable; inform contractors
• City will install activated carbon filtration systems where needed
• Cost, maintenance, and monitoring of filtration systems covered by City until issue is fully resolved – per investigation data
• End of August is target date for completion
 Maps should be updated by end of August
 Subscribe to newsletter
• Working to lift advisory warning by fall 2018

9. Concerns/questions
• Health concerns should be referred to health experts, especially if household includes medically fragile individuals
• City has not looked at how contamination might affect gardens/good grown on property
• Personal judgement needs to be used
 Fruit-bearing trees likely safe
 Ground plants (e.g., strawberries) perhaps not
• City reluctant to promise testing individual homes as they reach occupancy
 Water will be tested after service lines replaced
 Documentation available to property owners

Planning & Economic Development Update – David Guhin, Director

1. Resilient City Permit Center & Rebuilding Information
• Room 6 at City Hall

2. Walk-ins welcome even for individual one-on-one questions
• Even if there aren’t any plans yet

3. There are 600 homes in the rebuild process

4. Current code requirements
• All rebuilds need to be up to current code
• Codes change every three years so there is an additional expense for each code upgrade
 Insurance should have a code upgrade component
 Ask City for list of code updates to provide insurance company
• July 1, 2018 codes being implemented could add minor fees
 Wildlife urban interface, skylights, decking etc.

 Question about insurers not covering code updates not in place at time of fire (City seemed skeptical of this)
• Fees are approximately $4000 to $5000 based on square footage

5. Sprinklers
• Questions can be directed to Ian Hardage
• 2011 code change requires sprinklers
• Water pressure for sprinklers
 House location may affect need for water pressure pump
• Sprinkler companies work with Fire Department
• Cost is roughly $3 per square foot for new build
• Sprinklers are designed to save lives, not houses
 Possibly adds 10 minutes of protection
• Sprinkler contractor needs to be a C16 contractor
 Should be able to provide more than one option
• Can measure available pressure at each location
• Design of sprinklers dependent on square footage and other factors – very site specific

6. Communication
• City is meeting with contractors, engineers, architects on a regular basis so that everyone is aware of what their role is and what they need to provide while moving through the process
• Rebuilding 3,000 homes requires a great deal of coordination
• Unprecedented undertaking
• Real time data tracker online
• Will have “traffic cop” in rebuild area due to multiple trucks serving different purposes being present at all times

7. Timelines
• Pre-application meetings encouraged – to help save time and money
• Turnaround time for plans without multiple or complex changes is 5 days
 If adding floors or moving house on lot – turnaround time could be
2-3 weeks

8. HOAs
• City does not enforce HOA rules
• Property owners could face civil remedies if they violate HOS rules
• HOA rules generally about design’s look and feel
• Inform City of conflicts with code requirements and HOA rules
• HOA can be more restrictive than City but not less
• Question from BC – can HOA’s be educated on requirements/process
 Caluha Barnes suggested sending HOA contact information to the

Law Enforcement Update – Lt. Ron Nelson, Santa Rosa Police Department

Represents Beats 2 & 4

Desk phone: 543-3631

Emails are best

1. Santa Rosa is divided into nine beats

2. Officers pick based on seniority
• Changes every six months
• Eight officers assigned for each shift
• Not a complete changeover every six months, but officers cannot repeat in same beat more than twice

3. Beat 2 (Junior College area to Fountaingrove Parkway, Stagecoach to Chanate
• Sgt. Mike Clark through June
• St. Steve Pehlke beginning July

4. Beat 4 (Fountaingrove over hill to Rincon Valley along Hwy 12
• Sgt. Jeneane Kucker through June
• Dave Linscomb beginning July

5. Best number to call if something is suspicious but not at 911 level is 528-5222

6. Security & Safety (questions answered by multiple City officials)
• Send Nelson or Beat Sgt. email when beginning to build and moving construction materials onto property – extra visits to area will be provided
• Hi-def cameras can send alerts to cell phone about $200
• Thieves unlikely to impact standing homes – prefer crimes of opportunity
• Per Guhin – security a repeating topic at meetings with contractors; perhaps topic of a future meeting
 City will coordinate with contractors hiring private security
 Police department needs to be notified
• Engage HOA’s in security conversations
• Homeless encampments are on the SRPD radar
 Working to find housing solutions
• Fire Hazards – Weed Abatement
 City sends out 2,500 weed abatement notices each year
 City owned land only
• Curfews
 Courts have made it difficult to establish curfews
• Guhin to look into ban on wood burning fireplaces

7. Ombudsman
• Mayor Chris Coursey to serve this role for the present
•, cell 707-843-0243

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha 
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

6/7/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

Operation Hope Presentation – Wendy Wheelwright, Project Manager

See Post-Fire Coping and Free Counseling for more information.


1. Community reaction differs from individual reactions, which can include physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions

2. Immediate reaction is to get things done. One can only be in “go mode” for about six months. Typical reactions at this point:
• Physical effects
 Headaches & stomach problems
 Memory issues
 Difficulty concentrating, sleeping
 Substance abuse
 Declining job performance

• Emotional effects/reactions
 Denial
 Anxiety
 Fear
 Depression
 Guilt
 Apathy
 Preoccupation with disaster
 Frequent crying, increased irritability

• Spiritual reactions

3. You have the power to say “this is not how this story ends.”

4. What can help
• Remind yourself that post-traumatic stress reactions are normal, practice ways to manage reactions, practice helpful thinking, do fun or meaningful activities, spend time with others, avoid using alcohol or drugs to cope with your reactions, call a counselor for help

5. The power of connection
• Do let others know you need to talk or just be with them (but choose carefully whom to talk to)
• Don’t keep quiet because you don’t want to upset others
• Don’t keep quiet because you are worried about being a burden
• Don’t wait until you’re so stressed or exhausted that you can’t fully benefit from help

• Do depend on your inner circle
• Charles Dickens said “No one is useless in this world if they lighten the burdens of others”

6. Post-traumatic stress reactions—re-experiencing, avoidance, numbing, activation

7. What can help others
• Educate yourself
• Be patient
• Be understanding
• Ask questions
• Be realistic
• Be persistent
• Help with practical needs
• Understand the impacts of triggers

8. Self-Care – How’s Your Five?
• Eat well
• Move daily
• Hydrate often
• Sleep more
• Love, Laugh, Connect

9. Your identity
• Trauma has a way of overtaking your identity – but you are not your trauma. You are more than that.
• Wendy’s mother says “the universe has decided to test me, and I’m going to get an A.”

Review of Questions, Concerns – Group Discussion

1. Several efforts underway to recruit more block captain – Nextdoor, Mail Chimp email to Right of Entry (ROE) contact list, word of mouth, HOAs

2. Fountaingrove Ranch HOA meeting on June 20, some opportunity to recruit block captains there

3. There was a review of questions the block captains will want to have addressed as we move through the recovery process:

• Can the City provide an ombudsman or navigator for any rebuild questions?
• Water safety, water pressure
• Vandalism/ theft issues most recurring questions for the City

• Gabe Osborn from Santa Rosa Planning and Economic Development has been willing to attend many public meetings. We will request that he attend one of our upcoming meetings.
• Concerns about evacuation routes need to be addressed
• Whose jurisdiction is the mailbox placement question?
• Where can trees be planted?
• Does the City understand morale issues among neighbors? Question for
SR Community Engagement
• Several people are building concrete homes. One block captain is using a contractor from Lake County.

4. Determination of top four priorities to bring to City listening session
• Ombudsman for rebuild
• Water pressure & water quality
• Vandalism & theft
• Access during construction

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

6/2/2018 – Update from 3rd District

From: Tracy Cunha <>
Date: Sat, Jun 2, 2018 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Schedule of Block Capt Mtgs & Speakers/List of Questions/Additional Resources

Hello All,

Speakers: Here is what we have scheduled so far:

  • June 7: California Hope – a counseling service funded by FEMA that provides free, on-site (come-to-your-door) type counseling for those impacted from the fires.
  • June 14: County representative from the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to provide a County Update and a County spokesperson to provide a Legislative Update
  • June 21: AT&T – also trying to secure a representative from Sonic
  • July 12: Sonoma Clean Power & County’s Energy & Sustainability Division (info about incentives attached)

The speakers scheduled for both June 7 and June 14 can be rescheduled for a later date should you choose not to meet one or both weeks. Perhaps you can reply just to me – not reply all – as to whether or not you see value in meeting June 7 and June 14 and I will report back on the consensus.

Permit Sonoma Rebuilding Documentary Series:

Sharing some video documentation that follows a couple engaged in a rebuild in the Hidden Hills neighborhood off Riebli Road that has been posted on Youtube by Permit Sonoma at this page. Recognizing City and County processes differ in some ways, we thought these would be helpful for you to view at your leisure. In total, they run a little over 10 minutes. Definitely urge you to subscribe to the Permit Sonoma YouTube channel if you find them helpful. Upcoming videos will focus on insurance and County’s Energy and Sustainability Division no-cost rebuilding consultations.

Free Clean Fill Dirt:

The 1st District office received a call about a contractor who has 4000+ yards of clean fill dirt in Calistoga. This could be a good option for some folks if you need fill. Contact Bald Mountain Development Project Manager Robert Chrzanowski, 707-310-7149. Site address 400 Silverado Trail, Calistoga. They are helping to load trucks with the dirt.

Looking forward to learning if the United Policyholders meeting provided some value to those who attended.

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

5/24/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

From: Tracy Cunha <>
Date: Wed, May 30, 2018 at 3:14 PM
Subject: 5-24-18 Block Captain Mtg Notes/Flyers/Potential Resource

Official Notes
3rd District Block Captain Meeting
May 24, 2018

Informational Speakers from PG&E and Comcast

Tara Soekland, Customer Outreach Specialist/Rebuilding, and Brian Bottari, Govt. Relations from PG&E were introduced. James Bordessa, Director of Construction at Comcast teleconferenced in.

Information shared by PGE Rep Tara Soekland:  707-321-5664;

Trenching & Costs

  • Utilities coordinating with joint trenches – gas, electric.
  • PG&E is responsible for setting poles and bringing power
  • A line will be provided to the original location of the box/meter
  • Resident is responsible for remaining work and should inform builder
  • Sidewalks that need to be broken will be repaired by PG&E
  • PG&E laterals will generally be placed where they were prior to the fires
  • Requested changes not impossible; will be reviewed on case by case basis
  • Costs for requested changes to existing laterals will be borne by property owner
  • Not all of Fountaingrove needs to be retrenched; Most in conduit; simple to remove and replace damaged wiring

Overhead vs. Underground

  • PG&E is strategically looking at structuring underground, but generally, whatever existed before the fires will remain in place, e.g., Parker Hill was previously overhead and will remain overhead
  • Looking strategically at where they can go underground, but main considerations are for safety and logistics
  • Neighborhoods can petition PG&E for Rule 20 (conversion of overhead to underground)
  • This is a govt driven decision – PG&E provides funds to cities and counties who then prioritize underground projects – usually scenic corridors
  • Cost is approximately $1000 per foot to convert to underground


  • PG&E normally only paves half the street after completion of work
  • City of Santa Rosa unsure of amount of funding that will be received from FEMA

Timelines & Applications

  • With a start date of July, completion for permanent power is projected for year-end
  • No timeline determined for temporary overhead power lines
  • Upon filing, PG&E will typically respond within 24 hours
  • Be sure to indicate on application you were impacted by fires; this will expedite your application
  • Tara will try to further expedite individual cases when needed; contact her directly
  • Service connection will take about three weeks
    • One week to check job; one week to make any necessary changes; one week for construction
  • Temporary power will not have that same delay; set-up costs are waived
  • Builder may pass on rental fee for temporary poles
  • City approval required for placement of trailers on properties; PG&E will then provide temporary power

PG&E & Sonoma Clean Power partnership

  • Good incentives exist for going 100% electric; gas lines will be capped at the main distribution line
  • Incentives are doubled for fire survivors

Corrections to PG&E Notes

1. Temporary power/permanent power applications, file at
• Upon filing, PG&E will typically respond within 24 hours
• Be sure to indicate on application you were impacted by fires; this will expedite your application

2. Temporary service connection will take about three weeks
• One week to check job; one week to make any necessary changes; one week for construction

3. Costs & Approvals
• Set-up costs waived
• Builder may pass on rental fee for temporary poles
• City approval required for placement of trailers on properties
• PG&E will then provide temporary power and set the meter.

4. PG&E Infrastructure Rebuild – Fountaingrove
• PG&E and contract crews started working to repair some of the damage infrastructure and they have a goal to be complete by the end of the year/early 2019.

COMCAST Rep James Bordessa:

Trenching and Costs:

  • Comcast to pay for connection from main line to home
  • Fountaingrove, trenching not needed
  • Replacing fiber and coaxial cable
  • Comcast to use joint trenches wherever PG&E is opening up trenches; otherwise in service trenches
  • Service trenches will include all utilities

Timelines & Services

  • Installation requests expected to be completed within five days
  • Will provide same high-speed quality service as before the fires

General Discussion

There was a discussion about possibly using a cloud-based source like Slack, or separate (non-County) website to disseminate resources and information. Individuals with tech skills to contact Vita.

Concern was expressed about not having all neighborhoods represented. Some are well represented while others haven’t any.To help address this, 3rd District office will create an outreach piece and post on Next Door. Suggestions made to “paper” flyers on empty lots, small businesses still frequented by residents, e.g., Rincon Valley etc.

Discussion about showing others the meetings are a productive use of time. What are the goals? General consensus more input is needed from the City of Santa Rosa. 3rd District office to invite Mayor Coursey to a future meeting. A rotating agenda was suggested; with first Thursday of the month to include a City rep.

The group agreed to cancel the May 31 meeting in favor of attending the United Policyholders meeting at the Glaser Center where the topic was about underinsurance.

Schedule of Future Informational Speakers

A schedule will be sent out as speakers are confirmed. Issues related to water, roads, traffic/parking, and safety requires presentations by City of Santa Rosa officials, which is being worked on by the 3rd District office.

To date, non-City related requests for speakers have included:

  • AT&T
  • Sonic
  • Energy & Sustainability (County)
  • Sonoma Clean Power

Should other topics come to mind, please contact Tracy Cunha.

County Update – previously sent out in meeting follow-up email of 5-25-18

  • Energy & Sustainability Consultations
  • Over excavation remedial claims deadline May 31
  • Office of Recovery & Resiliency Update

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

5/17/2018 – Notes from 3rd District Block Captain Meeting

From: Tracy Cunha <>
Date: Mon, May 21, 2018 at 1:34 PM
Subject: 5-17-18 Block Captain Mtg Follow-up & Details for 5-24-18 Mtg

Official Notes
3rd District Block Captain Meeting
May 17, 2018


Attendees went around the table sharing their names, their neighborhood, their current rebuild status, and a brief summary of one of the biggest challenges they are facing.

Of the 22 present, more than half are planning to rebuild but are at varying levels of readiness. There are some who remain uncertain.

Biggest challenges shared:

  • Benzene issue
  • Uncertainty of cost to homeowners
  • Lenders reluctant to build in benzene areas
  • Cost of code upgrades
  • Water pressure/sprinkler system issues
  • Insurance requirements for itemized list of contents
  • Underinsured
  • Over excavation
  • Uncertainty on timing of logistical issues:
  • Power restoration
  • Sidewalk installation
  • Potential changes in set-back requirements

County Update – (Here)

What the 3rd District Can Provide

The 3rd District office is able to provide venues for the regular meetings, and will facilitate managing the meeting – providing notifications, agendas, and overseeing the implementation of the agenda at the meeting, etc. We will also schedule informational speakers in response to the needs of the survivors. Additionally, a summary of the meeting will be sent out early in the following week.

Role of Block Captains

Priorities by Neighborhood – Speaker Topics

  • Ben Horenstein, City of Santa Rosa Water Dept.
  • Security issues/looting during rebuild – Police Dept?
  • Start dates for roads being in place; parking & traffic needs – Jason Nutt (City of Santa Rosa Director of Transportation & Public Works)?
  • Utilities – services that can be offered now to those living on property & for rebuild; status report on trenching
  • Comcast, Sonic
  • PGE, Sonoma Clean Power

Future Meetings & Communications

The following decisions were made by the attendees:

  • Weekly meetings to be held Thursdays at 5.30PM
  • For Block Captains only
  • The group was in agreement that meeting notes can be published on Supervisor Zane’s website – with statements being summarized anonymously
  • MP3 audio recordings of the guest speaker portion of the meeting only will be published and distributed
  • The group agreed to share the Block Captain contact list (attached)
  • Outreach in neighborhoods
  • 3rd District office looking into accessing information through the County’s Clerk-Recorder-Assessors office

Best regards,
Tracy Cunha
Aide to Supervisor Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 1A. Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Subscribe to the Third District e-Newsletter!

For more information on District Block Captains:

Neighbors Together ~ Strong & Resilient does not provide any advice or endorse any service provider or agency. 

October 2017 Northern California Firestorm: Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa: Coffey Park; Fountaingrove (Hidden Valley Estates (HVE) is lumped with FG); Larkfield-Wikiup-Mark West-Riebli; Rincon Valley-Deer Trail-Calistoga Rd; Bennett Ridge (Nuns/Annadel Fire) . . . See more . . . »

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