MENDOCINO CO. 11/15/17 -- The free fire debris clean-up program has begun, and Mendocino County will be holding a meeting tonight in Redwood Valley to provide an update on the current updates for resources available, including the debris program, FEMA housing and long-term recovery efforts. The deadline for property owners to submit a form to conduct private clean-up is November 16, and county supervisors approved an urgency ordinance on Tuesday to allow nuisance and abatement actions against people who do not participate in either the free clean-up program and who also do not apply for the private clean-up program.
The county's community meeting takes place at Eagle Peak Middle School on Wednesday, November 15 from 6:30 - 8pm and will be livestreamed on the county's youtube page for those who can't attend. You can email questions in advance to [email protected]. Property owners will need to submit forms this week if they want to participate in the free debris clean-up program or else submit a form by Thursday, Nov. 16 to conduct a private clean-up, more details about which will be discussed at the meeting.
At the Tuesday, November 14 meeting, the Board of Supervisors passed an urgency ordinance which outlines nuisance and abatement procedures for property owners who fail to meet the debris clean-up requirements established by the county and state. Due to public health concerns, people who do not apply for either the free debris clean-up this week, or apply for a private clean-up by Nov. 16, may be subject to nuisance and abatement actions by the county. If a property is abandoned or the owner does not undertake a timely clean-up, the ordinance establishes a process in which the county can require a clean-up or impose fines, and ultimately place a property lien to recover costs. The process will typically take about two weeks and includes opportunities to appeal the decision. The full text of the emergency ordinance can be found here.
The free debris clean-up program is coordinated by the county, FEMA, the California Office of Emergency Services, and the Army Corps of Engineers, and about ten contracting crews are currently working in the county. Homeowners need to sign a "Right of Entry" form to be part of the program and will be notified before contractors begin work. The deadline for submitting this form was set Monday, November 13 and was set by the state. However, since the debris clean-up just began this week, some late forms may be accepted this week, which will be discussed at the meeting. The county has also put together a video of "Frequently Asked Questions" about the fire rebuilding and the clean-up program.
So far 253 Right of Entry forms have been signed out of 337 properties that are eligible for the program, CEO Carmel Angelo told supervisors on Tuesday. She noted Supervisor Carre Brown, who's district includes most of the areas affected by the fire, had been knocking on doors to encourage residents to participate in the free debris clean-up, in part of of health concerns due to the arrival of the rainy season.
People who do not want to participate in the program will be required to meet standards and cover costs for hiring contractors and completing the debris clean-up, including submitting a private clean-up plan by Thursday, November 16 to the county's Environmental Health Department, and then applying for the private clean-up program. Debris clean-up by private contractors will need to be completed by February 1, 2018, to prevent contamination of nearby sites that are participating in the free federal clean-up program, which is planned to finish by that date. Private contractors must be compliant with Mendocino County Debris Cleanup and Removal Program requirements.
Property owners will need to complete soil testing and meet other requirements after clean-up, including a self-certification, before they are approved for further work on the property. This will include an asbestos assessment by a Certified Asbestos Consultant, proper handling and disposal of burn debris at an approved landfill, and approval of erosion control measures. There are no county landfills that can accept fire debris, which is considered hazardous, and one contractor described recently seeing three hour lines for at Bay Area landfill.
All the requirements and application forms for private clean-up can be found here. The private cleanup form and requirements are available on the county's fire website and Environmental Health department at 860 N Bush Street in Ukiah or by calling (707) 234-6625. For info about the free consolidated debris removal program, please contact Planning and Building Services at (707) 234-6650.
At the supervisors meeting, supervisors and county residents raised questions about what is defined as a structure under the different programs, whether the clean-up program deadlines are achievable, and the efficacy of the Army Corps clean-up. Several supervisors noted that the upcoming rainy season may delay progress for the free clean-up program and lead to an extension of the February 1 clean-up deadline, but a representative of the Army Corps said the federal clean-up program was on track to be completed by late January. The private clean-up and the federal program are being given the same end date so as to prevent contamination of sites that have already been cleaned.
Here's the full press release about the free debris removal program from the county:
"The County is coordinating the Consolidated Debris Removal Program with CalOES, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to provide direct assistance to property owners with the cleanup of fire debris. Over the last few weeks the County has been collecting Right of Entry Forms from property owners participating in the program. The USACE is in Mendocino County mobilizing in the Redwood Valley area to start the debris removal. Below is important information on what the community can expect during the cleanup process.
Property owners will be notified before cleanup begins.
Mendocino County residents will receive a call from a representative of the US Corps of Engineers 24- 48 hours in advance of the debris removal on their property.
Safety is the number one priority.
Safety is the number one priority for property owners and residents. During the clean-up Mendocino County residents will see increased truck traffic not only in impacted areas but also on the roads leading to and from the neighborhoods but also on the road to the landfill. Please be aware that additional traffic may be experienced and that travel times may be increased at certain times during the day.
Workers will be in the area.
During the clean-up, homeowners in the Redwood Valley and Potter Valley should expect to see contractors and staff from the US Army Corps of Engineers in the area. Both the contractors and Army Corps of Engineers employees will be carrying identification and will also be wearing visibility clothing with logos. The name of the Contractor is Environmental Chemical Cleanup or ECC which is located out of Burlingame, California. For those wishing to pursue subcontracting opportunities, individuals should contact ECC at (650) 347-1555 or www.ecc.ent.
USACE will be on site for the cleanup.
During the clean-up, a Corps of Engineers Quality Assurance Representative (QA) will also be on site. Corps of Engineers QA’s will be wearing red shirts with "Emergency Operations" printed on the back of their shirts. In addition, Corps of Engineers employees will have a name badge and will also be attired in safety clothing such as hardhats, safety shoes and a visibility vest.
Properties with signed Right of Entry (ROE) forms are being cleared for cleanup.
Once the Corps has received clearance from the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) and the vetted ROE from the county, we will provide the ROEs to the contractor. The contractor will determine the most efficient plan of action in regard to which properties they will clean on a given day. Areas surrounding critical structures and water bodies are being prioritized. In addition, the more ROEs on neighboring properties, the better. It allows the contactor to address the cleanup more efficiently than properties that are separated.
Work is starting in Mendocino County.
The debris removal started on November 6th and while we are in the initial phases of debris removal; the US Army Corps of Engineers is anticipating that properties cleared under the Consolidated Debris Removal Program will be completed in early 2018.
Property owners will be notified when cleanup is complete.
Once the property has been cleared, the property owner will be notified by the county and will receive a summary report which provides a summary of the work completed; along with pre and post photos along with any laboratory sampling data that may have been performed on the property for insurance purposes.
The State of California has requested property owners interested in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program submit a Right of Entry form by November 13, 2017. If property owners choose not to participate in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, property owners must submit a Private Cleanup Form to the Mendocino County Environmental Health Division no later than November 16, 2017. Private debris removal must meet debris cleanup requirements with a qualified contractor. It is strongly advised that property owners review all requirements thoroughly before pursuing their own debris removal. Disaster funding will not reimburse for this work, and a Building Permit to rebuild will not be issued unless the property has been remediated to the standards established in the Debris Cleanup and Removal Program.
For more information on the Consolidated Debris Removal Program please contact Planning and Building Services at (707) 234-6650. For more information on the private debris removal requirements, please contact Environmental Health at (707) 234-6625.
Kate B. Maxwell, [email protected]