Phase One: Learning How to Adapt Your Home
Permit Sonoma received a $6.7 million grant in 2020 from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to help Sonoma County take measures to reduce the potential for home destruction from wildfire by undertaking risk-reduction on a community scale. This pilot project will address homes within 14 communities across Sonoma County. The project area map and a list of addresses will be available in December of 2020. The goal of the project is to increase understanding of what to do to reduce risks by providing defensible space assessments, structural hardening assessments, and community outreach events and workshops. We will aim to add programs in more communities over time once additional funding is available.
Countywide Education and Outreach
Through a variety of educational opportunities including on-site assessments, virtual seminars and workshops, Countywide residents will be provided opportunities to learn first-hand from knowledgeable professionals what they can do to reduce risk.
Pilot Program Home Assessments
The fourteen areas selected to be included in the pilot home assessment project were chosen based on proximity to very high fire severity zones and high potential for significant home loss. Professional fire inspectors will visit each home to provide Defensible Space Assessments. These inspections will provide information about some very important risk-reduction techniques which are not required by code, but have been found to be of significant importance to reduce home ignition. The primary focus of the assessments is to inspire residents towards positive action, rather than enforcement of regulations.
Property owners can also sign up to receive a detailed assessment on “hardening” the structures on their property. Structure Hardening is the process of replacing or modifying elements on buildings that can cause it to catch fire, especially from windblown embers. Our trained assessors will provide a list of the most vulnerable elements on the home, and what can be done to reduce risk.
Phase Two: Doing the Work
After completion of the first inspection phase of the project, property owners within the 14 identified areas will be eligible to apply to receive incentive funding to offset the costs of improving defensible space and hardening their buildings. Incentive funds will help property owners reduce vegetation to complete defensible space and home hardening priorities. To be eligible for structure hardening projects, property owners must also pass defensible space inspections by the end of the project.
The reimbursement rate will be 75% of project costs, up to a maximum of $7,000 for structure hardening, and a maximum of $3,500 for vegetation management for defensible space. These funds will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis.
Work performed before formal approval of an application will not be eligible for reimbursement.
Assessments will begin in March 2021. Property owners will receive a letter 20 days prior to the start of assessment in their area. Information will be mailed to the Property Owner at the address listed in the Sonoma County Assessors Records. It will not be necessary for you to be present during the Defensible Space Assessment. The inspector’s contact information will be listed on the inspection form, and we encourage you to follow up with him/her if you have any questions or want further information about how to make your property better adapted for wildfire.