Time is Quickly Running out to Opt In for Federal Sponsored Fire Debris Removal Programs
If your property was affected by the 2020 wildfires in Northern California, there are two options for addressing debris and ash removal (known as Phase II). You can either ‘opt in’ to the government sponsored program or ‘opt out.’ The deadline to apply for the State of California-Cal Recycle sponsored Consolidated Debris Removal Program is quickly approaching.
We made a guide to help with that decision here, and we explained in a separate article why you should almost certainly opt in if you live in certain rural areas. Read the article here. The deadline for the State of California program has been extended to January 15, 2021 for all fires. By signing a ROE form, you’re signing up to participate in the Cal Recycle program. Each County/City will eventually force property owners to clean up their property and will bill you for the costs at a certain point if you do not respond.
PHASE II - Debris and Ash Removal
To opt into this program, a Right-of-Entry (ROE) permit application must be submitted to the appropriate county environmental health, building, or planning departments. Review the table found here:
for links to ROE forms by fire. An ROE form gives permission to the city/county and state to access your property for the purpose of cleanup activities. Phase II is the removal of structural debris and ash, as well as the removal of trees that are a threat to the safety of the debris removal crews while working on your property.
If you elect to participate in the State’s Consolidated Debris Removal, Cal OES, FEMA, and local officials will coordinate with the State’s Debris Task Force to access your property to remove debris, conduct soil sampling and ensure that your property is clean and ready for rebuilding. 24 to 48 hours prior to state debris removal, property owners are notified of the planned removal. The government option is conducted at no cost to the property owner. However, if the property owners have fire debris removal insurance, they’re required to assign that portion of the insurance proceeds to cover the cost of debris removal. The most common complaint we hear from homeowners is regarding contractors doing too much under the debris removal program – removing too much soil where they have to backfill after the cleanup process or removing features from the property that homeowners feel are unnecessary.
The private option allows owners or their own qualified contractors to remove debris and ash. To choose this option, after Phase I is complete, property owners will submit a Debris and Ash Removal (DAR) Application and Plan, Work Plan, or a Demolition Plan and must meet all the requirements outlined by the county agency in charge.
Private work completed under an approved plan is at property owners’ expense (or more accurately is funded by a homeowner’s insurance policy for debris removal). An article explaining some of the many ins and outs of insurance coverage can be found here. There are no subsidies through local, State or Federal government and any charges over and beyond a given homeowner’s insurance coverage is the homeowner’s responsibility.
If you wish to pursue the private option, contact Guzi-West to discuss your options and ensure that the private option is best for you. If you wish to pursue that option, then we can help do all required testing, paperwork submittals, etc. under the program, excluding the actual debris and ash removal itself. We sincerely hope 2021 is a better year for you and that the re-building process goes smoothly.