Repairing Public Infrastructure
During the Feb. 22, 2022 City Council meeting, city staff provided an update on City infrastructure recovery efforts resulting from the 2017 wildfire. Following the wildfire, the city worked with FEMA and CalOES to organize the city’s recovery efforts into 29 projects with an initial estimate of $111 million of which $69 million was ultimately approved by FEMA. Several project components were denied by FEMA, including pavement and sidewalk damage resulting from the debris removal mission and the relocation of Fire Station No. 5. Fortunately, city staff has secured additional disaster recovery funding through the PG&E settlement, Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery for mitigation and infrastructure projects and the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief program. These additional funds, totaling nearly $59 million, will allow the city to complete those public infrastructure projects denied by FEMA and see the fire impacted communities mended from the visual and physical impacts caused by the fire.
To date, 16 of the 29 projects have been fully completed, 4 have been withdrawn, 5 are physically complete and in the final closeout stage, 1 cannot be completed until all others are finished and construction on the remaining 3 will begin this year. So far the city has received $18 million of the $69 million in reimbursements from FEMA and CalOES.
Fire Station 5 Resiliency and Relocation Project
The October 2017 firestorm damaged approximately 75 acres within 10 Santa Rosa City park sites. Damage was sustained within community parks, neighborhood parks, open space and landscape areas. Six of the 10 parks sustained severe damage and one, Coffey Neighborhood Park, was destroyed. The estimated cost to restore the City’s fire-damaged parks is upwards of $16-million. Insurance payments and federal and state disaster funding are expected to cover only a portion of these costs. A gap of $6-million or more is likely. MORE
Over 500 city-owned street lights were damaged during the Tubbs Fire. Staff has been working closely with PG&E to re-energize both individual and groups of streetlights when requested by residents. Staff are able to accommodate these requests when the electrical infrastructure is intact. Where the infrastructure is not intact, the City has established a phased recovery prioritization process to rebuild, re-energize, and where necessary, to redesign the system. MORE
Hundreds of trees in the public right-of-way (ROW) were burned in the fires. In early 2019, the City contracted a certified arborist to perform a field survey of all street trees (those in the public right-of-way) in the areas affected by the fires. The Arborist Report identified approximately 700 street trees as being a potential hazard and recommended for removal. Beginning late June through October 2019, a contractor will remove these hazardous fire-damaged street trees in the burn scar areas. Removal of trees on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. MORE
Per City Council policy 13-32.020, the maintenance of sidewalks immediately in front of a property is the responsibility of the property owner. Given the scale of damage to the sidewalks in the fire-impacted areas due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the fires and debris removal mission that followed, and the potential resulting safety hazards in the public right-of-way, the City of Santa Rosa is attempting to work with FEMA to fund a comprehensive City-led sidewalk replacement program. However, it’s unclear at this time how much sidewalk replacement will be funded by FEMA and what the approved locations will be. In the meantime, property owners may elect to move forward with removing and replacing the sidewalk along their property frontage; however, those costs will not be reimbursed by the City or FEMA. Property owners may have individual options for using debris removal insurance proceeds for any private sidewalk repairs. MORE