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April 2019

Fire Prevention – Vegetation Management

Birdhouse hanging from treebranchDespite the recent heavy rains, a large portion of Sonoma County continues to face risks from wildfire. Poorly maintained vegetation is a natural, volatile fuel for fast-spreading wildfires.

One of the best ways for property owners and residents to protect their homes is to create good defensible space to ensure a buffer between their property and any surrounding grass, trees, shrubs, or wildland area.

This spring, inspectors from Sonoma County and local Fire Districts will conduct Hazardous Vegetation and Combustible Materials inspections on approximately 3,500 properties that are identified as having high risk for wildfire.

More Information

Planning Commissioner Gregory Carr – Interview

Gregory CarrFor our readers who don’t know you, can you provide a bit of background about yourself and what led you to serve on the Planning Commission?

I graduated from Sonoma State with a BS degree in environmental studies and planning. Upon graduation, I was hired by the County Planning Department (Later PRMD) and worked for over 30 years as a planner. A big part of my job found me bringing various permit applications and policy initiatives to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

After retirement I was appointed by the BOS to the Commission. It is interesting to me the difference between being a staff member and a commissioner at the hearings…but at least I was familiar with both roles at the time.

Is the Planning Commission your first position of service to the community?

No. In addition to serving as a County planner, I have volunteered in several capacities, participating on committees addressing safe routes to schools, solid waste, environmental health, land conservation, groundwater, and mining reclamation. As a commissioner, I also sit as an ex-officio member of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission.

Can you name a few highlights of your time on the commission?

Nothing in particular stands out, although debating County policy on issues such as cannabis, vacation rentals, and stream protection have been invigorating.

20 years from now, how do you envision Sonoma County?

Walkable towns, better transit services, affordable housing in urban areas, healthy and diverse agricultural economy, cultural diversity.

What is your favorite spot in Sonoma County?

It's difficult to pick one, but some of the places that we like to visit are just about any part of the Coast and Russian River. However, if I have to pick go-to place, it's the Sonoma Plaza.

Read Interviews with Other Planning Commissioners

Osmann Rebuild Story – Letters to Permit Sonoma

Osmann home being rebuiltBrian and Wendy Osmann wrote to Permit Sonoma recently to share their story. Brian and Wendy lost their home in the 2017 Sonoma County fire.

Despite the loss, they saw the opportunity to build their dream home which is a prefabricated log cabin home. The home they chose was manufactured in North Carolina with the engineering firm in Oregon. Despite the log cabin being manufactured in North Carolina, it still had to comply with California codes.

After multiple failed attempts by the engineering firm to submit plans that met required local codes, the County’s Resiliency Permit Center staffer Bob Biederman went above and beyond to assist the couple and help the process along. Since then the plans have been approved and the couple is moving forward construction of their dream home.

To date there are currently 64 properties that have completed construction and 706 in the construction phase.

Have a rebuild story? Contact Permit Sonoma at to share your story!

Read More Rebuilding Stories

Hazardous Materials Response Team in Action

responder wearing HazMat suit

Illegal Hash Oil Facility on Butler Avenue

Last month, the Sonoma County Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Response Team responded, in coordination with Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and Code Enforcement, to an illegal hash oil manufacturing facility at on Butler Avenue in unincorporated Santa Rosa.

Sonoma County HazMat arrived on scene. Sonoma County HazMat met with the Sheriff investigators who advised that the scene was an active crime scene and they would escort Sonoma County HazMat to the chemical storage and manufacturing area. Once inside the area. Sonoma County HazMat observed approximately 10, 55-gallon drums of hexane and at least two, 55-gallon drums of acetonitrile. They also observed approximately six filtration devices and several other items used in the manufacturing process.

Illegal Dumping in Bodega Bay

Another example of recent HazMat team activities is their response to an illegal dumping incident that occurred in Bodega Bay. In coordination with Gold Ridge Fire the HazMat team responded to an illegal chemical dump at the corner of Sexton Road and Bodega Highway.

Sonoma County HazMat arrived on scene to find several one-gallon containers of unknown chemicals. There were no leaks and no threat to local waterways. Testing on site found one quart of Methyl Chloride and a combination of mild corrosive cleaners in the remaining containers. Sonoma County HazMat packaged all chemicals and transported them to the Santa Rosa Road Yard on Airport Boulevard.

More About the HazMat Team

Sonoma County’s Hazardous Materials Response Team responds to hazardous materials incidents throughout Sonoma County except for those originating within the city limits of Santa Rosa. The County’s HazMat Team is equipped to respond to virtually any type of incident, including those requiring Level A (fully-encapsulated suit) entry.

Through the years, the team has responded to a wide range of calls, including drug labs, overturned gasoline tanker trucks, and releases of radiological materials. It has a HazMat rig, specialized trailers for responding to oil spills and those requiring mass decontamination, and a pickup truck equipped to handle a majority of smaller-scale incidents (e.g., hazardous waste abandoned along a roadside). Additionally, it has an oil spill boom trailer stored in Windsor.

The HazMat Team has received Cal OES certification as a Type 2 response team. Its detection equipment includes Ludlum radiological detectors, Eagle 4-gas meters, photo-ionization detectors (PIDs), and an RMX Handheld Chemical Identification Analyzer.

Contact Information

Maggie Fleming
Communications Manager
Permit and Resource Management Department
County of Sonoma
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