Coffey Park — one of the most publicized communities that suffered major losses in the recent wildfires — is moving closer toward a viable plan to rebuild.
Though there may be confusion among residents who lost homes during the recent fires about how to rebuild, architects and builders are confident that Coffey Park can be rebuilt in record time, provided residents take an active part in the process.
“We are determined to get it done fast and cost effectively, despite logistical challenges, and building during the winter months,” said John Allen, project manager at APM Homes in Santa Rosa.
The biggest challenge is getting input from all the residents of the area and actively engaging them.
“Through a consensus, it (what to build) has to come from the people,” Allen said.
Several meetings have been held, and at the latest block captains were elected.
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback from community leaders and residents,” Allen said.
Residents are already being directed to Draftech Blueprinting in Santa Rosa, a copy center for architects, to view floor plans.
The key is to rebuild quickly, said Julia Donoho, an architect and attorney and the chair of the American Institute of Architect’s Redwood Empire’s Firestorm Recovery Committee, which was first formed in response to the 2015 Valley fire in nearby Lake County.
“We’re in a race to keep people from a breaking point and leaving,” she said.
During the recent wildfires, Sonoma County lost about 5,000 homes, and Santa Rosa — the largest city in the county — had 3,000 homes destroyed and entire neighborhoods wiped out. The homes lost in Santa Rosa represent roughly 5 percent of its housing stock.
About 1,300 homes were lost in Coffey Park, a middle-class neighborhood.
Donoho, a resident of Windsor, is volunteering her efforts on project Coffey Park Rebuild Together (CPR-T), to rebuild all of Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood and talking to builders, bankers, and homeowners, pushing for a speedy recovery that she believes will exceed every recovery effort on record.
It’s necessary, she said, having learned from the Valley Fire why people give up.
“It becomes an onerous process,” she said. “People don’t understand the process, feel alone, the insurance money isn’t enough, and they just don’t have the stamina. Understanding why people leave, how to give them hope is the key.”
To that end, Donoho has been speaking with displaced residents, large scale builders, and bankers.
She wants to give residents as many options as possible for rebuilding, whether in small or large groups, or individually.
APM Homes is one of about a dozen large and small builders in the area working with Donoho to figure out how they can best work together to rebuild the area. The quickest and most cost effective way would be a group build.
“It obviously makes sense to build en mass,” Allen said.
He believes that the first homes could be completed by as early as summer 2018.
“We have reached out to our local subcontractors as well as subcontractors from out of town and we believe that we can rally the manpower to do so,” he said.
A group build, whether with 10, 50, or 100, takes organization, to help people work with the insurance, architect, and city permits with efficiency but the process is fairly simple, according to Jeff Pack, an executive with Stonefield Companies, one of the handful of builders responsible for rebuilding hundreds of the homes lost in Scripps Ranch, in San Diego, after the 2003 Cedar fire. That deadly blaze that destroyed a total of more than 2,300 residential properties in the region, and the rebuilding effort took several years.