Special Coverage: 2017 North Bay wildfires and the recovery
PG&E warns of $15B in liabilities from North Bay fires
The utility company is setting aside $2.5 billion in the current fiscal quarter in anticipation of growing claims related to the wildfires that raged across Northern California in October.
Kendall-Jackson wine family seeks to redevelop former Santa Rosa golf course
The Banke-Jackson family, which owns Jackson Family Wines, hopes its plans to develop the 31-acre former Wikiup Golf Course will help revitalize the fire-ravaged Larkfield-Wikiup-Mark West community north of Santa Rosa.
County of Sonoma agrees to study sales tax for housing, fire
If approved next month, the measure on the ballot this fall would be paired with a Santa Rosa-only affordable-housing bond.
Wildfire rebuild offers some a chance to re-envision their homes
Some people faced with rebuilding their homes after October’s wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties are designing homes that more closely reflect personal values and the changing needs of their families. Take a look.
Prosecutor: Cloverdale landlord jacked up rent 40% after fires
The Cloverdale case is 1 of at least 6 price-gouging cases prosecuted in the North Bay since October’s firestorm.
North Bay wildfire cleanup complete
The effort in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties was the largest debris-removal project in California since the 1906 earthquake.
PG&E may try to shift fire liability
If the utility is found liable for the October wildfires, it may argue North Bay governments share responsibility for the damage because of the "inadequacy" of the local fire response and preparations.
Habitat for Humanity plans to build cottages for fire survivors
Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County plans construction of a temporary "wildfire cottage" community on Medtronic’s campus in Santa Rosa's devastated Fountaingrove neighborhood.
Hard lessons and hope: Fire survivors share advice on rebuilding homes
More than seven months after their lives were upended by the October wildfires, homeowners share advice and insight from the rebuilding process.
Fight over 'granny units' in Santa Rosa-area HOA
Wildfire victim Nick Moen wants his rebuilt Larkfield home to include an accessory dwelling unit. Problem is, his homeowners association just outlawed them. They're headed to mediation in a case that could have implications across the state.
How the labor shortage is slowing this Sonoma County builder's projects
"Before the (October wildfires), we were experiencing difficulty finding competent carpenters and superintendents. Now that’s significantly exacerbated with the fire…," says design-builder David Leff of Leff Construction.
Report details 'shocking' telecom breakdown during wildfires
A report finds that communication lines took a big hit during the October wildfires, creating an information gap that left many North Bay residents fearing for their lives.
Wildfire rebuild policies can inform rules on construction long term, architect says
"The rebuild is extremely important … (as) is keeping the rest of our economy moving by allowing businesses to expand their facilities and constructing (other) housing," says Santa Rosa wildfire victim Doug Hilberman of Axia Architects.
Mayor talks plans to speed new Santa Rosa housing
"We've been doing quite a lot in the last seven months (since the wildfires) and a bit before then to change our regulatory process through the city level. There is more to come," says Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey.
Here's why so few North Bay homes are in construction after the wildfires
Amy Bach for nearly three decades has been helping homeowners nationwide get insurance claim settlements to replace belongings and rebuild housing after wildfires. Here's what she found in a recent poll of North Bay victims.
Fed-up residents at burned Santa Rosa mobile home park sue
The frustration at The Orchard mobile home park in Sonoma County surfaced Wednesday when residents announced they had filed a class-action lawsuit against the park owner over the fire recovery.
North Bay business briefs: Napa-Sonoma SBDC, Napa farm bureau and more
Napa-Sonoma SBDC gets $25,000 for small businesses hurt in the October wildfires. Other business news from Napa County Farm Bureau, Inspire Napa Valley, Santa Rosa Junior College and Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County.
Coffey Park rebuild is first stop for Napa prefab-wall startup
Central Valley is betting on prefabricated walls for labor-strapped and cost-wracked industry. It opens a factory, whose first shipment is walls to speed reconstruction of a home in Santa Rosa's wildfire-devastated Coffey Park area.
Rebuilding in Santa Rosa? New rules make it easier
Santa Rosa waived setbacks Thursday that some viewed as overly restrictive to those homeowners trying to rebuild after October’s wildfires.
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County update rebuilding progress
Planning and building department officials said goal is a more creative approach to have 30,000 more homes by 2023.
Put a granny unit on it: Sonoma Co. OKs rules to spur new housing
Sonoma County was in a housing hole before the October wildfires, and the long-term shortfall may be as many as 30,000 units. The rules on accessory dwelling units and other housing are intended to spur construction.
Coffey Park senior facility plans to rebuild
Platinum Residential Care was among 43 commercial buildings destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in October. With disaster-assistance SBA funds, the owner plans to rebuild.
How are the rebuilding efforts going in Sonoma and Napa counties?
North Bay Business Journal's Construction Industry Conference on May 31 will feature an insurance advocate, Napa and Sonoma county supervisors, several mayors, and building industry officials.
30-year Napa landscaper back in business after wildfire
Joaquin’s Landscaping lost much of its equipment when Napa's Atlas Peak Fire raged through a job site in October, and a work trailer with the rest was stolen that night. Here's how the business bounced back.
Napa, Sonoma wildfire SBA payouts near $140M
"We urge people to apply for SBA loans prior to the settlement of insurance claims, so we can start getting them the money they need," says a spokesman
Santa Rosa contractor gets surprise help rebuilding business after the fires
Chris Rhodes applies for SBA disaster assistance loan to help with losses to his 32-year-old construction business, but the October wildfires also took $15,000 in work tools. Yet he receives help from a surprise source.
50 homes going up in Coffey Park
Despite more construction underway in Coffey Park, large sections of the Santa Rosa neighborhood remain little more than charred trees and empty lots, as residents face challenges working with their insurance companies.
Santa Rosa OKs measures to speed housing development
The new rules are intended to make it faster and cheaper for a wide variety of housing projects to win approval by limiting review by the city’s Design Review Board.
Santa Rosa City Council: Streamlining housing or reckless deregulation?
Sonoma County's largest city wants to streamline new housing projects, including multifamily apartments, childcare centers and homeless shelters, even in areas never burned in the October wildfires.
Some Sonoma Valley fire survivors put out ‘for sale’ signs
Major debris removal in Sonoma Valley is done, but some fire survivors are finding that sale of property in the burn zones is the easiest path forward. It's similar to what's happening in Santa Rosa.
Sonoma Valley boutique hotel rebuilds after fires
The boutique Olea Hotel in Glen Ellen expects to reopen mid-summer after over $1 million in renovations.
7 months after wildfires, North Bay nonprofits badly need volunteers
Recent research shows that October’s wildfires impacted 85 percent of the North Bay’s nonprofits, which have seen their needs shift from cash to volunteers.
As Napa vacancy falls to zero, 50 affordable flats to rise
Santa Rosa-based nonprofit Burbank Housing is set to start construction this week on the 50-unit Stoddard West project, with contributions from the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund, Gasser Foundation and other local funders.
Willi’s Wine Bar return after Santa Rosa wildfire was a hard decision
“Willi’s was the perfect little nugget of a restaurant,” said Terri Stark, co-owner of the Sonoma County restaurant. “A new restaurant will never be the same, but we’re excited for Willi’s Part 2.”
North Bay landlord accused of jacking up rent 80% after fires
A woman faces up to a year in jail and $10,000 in fines if convicted on price-gouging charges after allegedly raising the monthly rent by $4,000 on her Marin County home in the days following the October wildfires.
Economy ‘mostly sunny with increasing clouds and a chance of showers’
The U.S. economy is having a “pretty full recovery, but there are signs that some things are beginning to slow down,” according to a Colliers International economist speaking at a Marin County business conference Wednesday. But the North Bay’s multibillion-dollar wildfire recovery looms.
Wildfire survivors turn to modular homes to speed rebuilding
A crane hoisted two factory-built sections of a home onto the site of a burned Santa Rosa house last week. Such rebuilds require less local labor and materials, and both could be in short supply as the North Bay recovers from the wildfires.
Wildfire recovery well underway at Keysight Technologies
Santa Rosa-based Keysight Technologies has faced big challenges to help workers, restore damaged facilities and resume production following the October wildfires.
Wildfire lawsuit expands against Fountaingrove senior care home
A detective who rescued his grandmother and five other residents of Oakmont of Villa Capri in Santa Rosa is now part of an expanding lawsuit that alleges it failed to evacuate residents during the October firestorm.
Lawmakers discuss Napa, Sonoma wine business well-being in wake of fires
Six months after the October firestorm, Wine Country’s signature industry and its related tourist traffic have a strong outlook, say representatives and lawmakers.
Santa Rosa business owners try to regain homes and livelihoods after wildfires
The October disaster in many cases claimed both homes and businesses for Sonoma County residents. Their ranks include landscapers, painters, house cleaners and musicians, many operating from home.
North Bay business briefs: Sonoma County Rises survey, Tri Counties Bank and more
Sonoma County Rises is surveying residents through April 2 to guide policy-makers on the recovery from the October wildfires. See other business news from Tri Counties Bank, Azari Vineyards, Redwood Credit Union, Bank of Marin, Anova, Santa Rosa Junior College and Alexander Valley Winegrowers.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Bear Republic Brewing Company
“2017 was a tough year for many of us, and Bear Republic (Brewing) was instrumental in assisting victims of the Sonoma County wildfires,” says CEO Richard Norgrove. Find out how.
Community Philanthropy Awards: BPM
In addition to contributing $197,000 to North Bay nonprofits last year, BPM’s North Bay team personally jumped in to help with relief from the October wildfires. For example, a senior tax supervisors helped set up a National Guard camp.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Community Foundation Sonoma County
For its leadership in taking the long view in providing funds for recovery and rebuilding needs, Community Foundation Sonoma County wins one of North Bay Business Journal’s Community Philanthropy Awards.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Cornerstone Properties
The major owner of North Bay commercial real estate donates tens of thousands of square feet to relief efforts for the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Kaiser Permanente Marin–Sonoma
Kaiser Permanente’s operations in Sonoma and Marin counties donated over $520,000 to restore child care and clinics after the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Keysight Technologies
The Santa Rosa-based high-tech tester maker distributed $704,000 to local nonprofits last year and $200,000 for STEM education. And employees gave over $500,000 in time off to help 100 colleagues burned out of their homes in October.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Mary’s Pizza Shack
Mary’s Pizza Shack raises over a half-million dollars annually for local nonprofits. Last year, the Sonoma-based restaurant chain brought in $57,000 for relief efforts after the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Montgomery Village
Montgomery Village shopping center in Santa Rosa raised more than $400,000 in 2017 for local nonprofits through a combination of concert donations and other events. More than half that amount was for relief efforts after the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Moss Adams
The accounting firm gave over $100,000 to help those in need after the October wildfires. North Bay employees volunteer with local nonprofits.
Community Philanthropy Awards: North Bay Association of Realtors
The real estate association received nearly $18,000 from Marin County, Santa Cruz, Chicago and Alabama to help NorBAR members who lost their homes in the fires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: North Coast Builders Exchange
North Coast Builders Exchange opened a Tool Replacement Center for its members and other construction workers who lost their tools in the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: North Bay Fire Relief Fund
The North Bay Fire Relief Fund collected more than $32 million in 16 weeks for relief from the October wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties.
Community Philanthropy Awards: River Rock Casino
The northern Sonoma County casino produces a 30-second video public-service announcement offering a message of hope during the October wildfires.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Quattrocchi Kwok, Sonoma Co. Office of Education, Flight
Homes for Sonoma, a group of volunteers from architecture, education and marketing, drafts a plan to build homes for victims of the October wildfires in Northern California.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Jennifer Torrey
When Jennifer Torrey arrived at a large wildfire-victim center in Santa Rosa during the October wildfires, the catering chef was tasked with turning meals for 2,000 people three times a day while working 16-hour shifts.
Community Philanthropy Awards: Mikayla Butchart Illustration
Sales of the Mikayla Butchart’s “Roseilience” pin generates $35,000-plus for relief efforts during the North Bay wildfires of October.
The next blow: Many fire victims don’t have enough insurance to rebuild
More than two out of three victims of the North Bay wildfires in October don’t think they have enough insurance to replace or rebuild their homes, according to a recent survey. Here’s why.
More benzene found in Santa Rosa water tests
Benzene, the cancer-causing chemical that city officials believe was sucked into its water system in a heavily burned area of Fountaingrove, is continuing to be discovered in new places, including one in Coffey Park.
Fountaingrove water system needs $43M replacement after fires
The entire water-delivery system in 184 acres of the Fountaingrove neighborhood in northeast Santa Rosa likely will need replacement after becoming contaminated with benzene following the October wildfires.
Fountaingrove rebuilding begins after October wildfires
The first home being rebuilt in Fountaingrove reached a milestone recently when framers began roughing in the walls of Ed and Kathy Hamilton’s Shillingford Place home.
Sonoma County takes building-permit scheduling online
Haircuts, DMV services, building permits. Those are among the appointments you now can schedule online. It's part of Sonoma County's promise to speed the rebuilding process, with thousands of homes lost to the wildfires.
Sonoma County hotels remain fuller after fires
The trend of much higher winter room occupancy and revenue continue after the October wildfires continued in Sonoma County in February, according to the latest data. Napa County's revenue was up slightly, while that for Marin and Solano dipped.
Sonoma County retail: 650,000sf affected by firestorm
“Retail and services businesses were effectively ‘suspended out of the inventory’ in the fall” by the October wildfires, writes Dino D’Argenzio of Keegan & Coppin.
Worried about the postfire ‘brain drain’
“What is worrisome is that these are teachers, nurses, doctors, tourism and service people. That’s critical for the economy of our area if we lose those,” says Casey Mazzoni, legislative director for Rebuild Northbay Foundation.
Kohl’s reopens after post-fire remodel
The big-box retailer’s soft reopening was welcomed by shoppers as another sign of north Santa Rosa’s recovery from the October wildfires.
Hundreds of vacant lots go on the market after wildfires
About 300 burned lots have been offered for sale in Sonoma County since the October fires. Find out how much they are selling for — and who is buying them.
Opinion: Though outside the wildfire path, a Petaluma company is deeply affected
“In the days and weeks that followed, Simply Solar, like many businesses during this emergency, had to balance the needs of our staff, customers and community in the face of tremendous uncertainty,” writes a top executive of the Petaluma company.
Fire victims: That state tax penalty is a bungle
California’s Franchise Tax Board granted an extension from Oct. 15 to Jan. 31 but then sent penalty notices anyway.
Fires blamed for rise in Napa, Sonoma mortgage delinquencies
Though lenders and loan-backers have offered help to borrowers in areas hit hard by the October wildfires, the proportion of those behind on payments there more than doubled in the months afterward, says a new report.
North Bay business briefs: Wildfire employee-employer help, Cloverdale assisted-living project and more
Sonoma County gets $3.25 million for wildfire-dislocated workers. Other North Bay business news on tax credits for wildfire-stricken businesses, Western Living Concepts (Cloverdale project), AUL Corp. and Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.
Arsenic levels in soil complicate Fountaingrove cleanup
The effort to clean up debris from the October wildfires has been made more complicated by confusion over just how “clean” the cleared lots must be before rebuilding can proceed.
Senior-living firm: Residents suing over wildfire evacuation didn’t take ‘adequate precautions’
“Plaintiffs failed to use and exercise ... the proper care and precautions which a reasonable prudent person under the same or similar circumstances would have exercised,” attorneys for Oakmont Senior Living wrote in a response to the lawsuit.
Coffey Park businesses still feel fire impacts
Businesses surrounding the fire-ravaged Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa have experienced a drop in customers in the four months since the wildfires — and the emotional toll of working in the shadow of a burn zone.
North Bay business briefs
Constellation Brands donates $200,000 to the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Sonoma County. Other North Bay business news from Patelco Credit Union, Charles Communications, Lifehouse, Dominican University, Model Meals and Cornerstone Properties.
Sonoma Co. releases fire-recovery plan; new housing is key
“(I)f Sonoma County does not create 8,143 new (housing) units by 2020 … there will likely be drag in the overall economy leading to slower employment growth,” says a new county plan released Thursday for recovery from the fires.
‘Fortunate to be diversified,’ says owner of Santa Rosa restaurant burned in the fires
One of its Santa Rosa Mountain Mike’s Pizza joints went up during the October firestorm, but Chandi Restaurant Group continues to expand in the North Bay, including a hotel planned for the burn site.
Cars sales and North Bay fires are connected, data shows
Sonoma County leads in fall sales among North Bay areas hit by the fires, but Napa County next door saw double-digit gains in the fourth quarter, according to new data.
Meet a champion for recovery of North Bay homes, jobs, community after the fires
Jennifer Gray Thompson talks about Rebuild Northbay Foundation’s role as “third responder” to help guide the region’s bounceback years after the October wildfires.
Editorial: Fire spurs employees to leave North Bay; it’s about housing and recovery
Getting this fire recovery and housing question right means everything, writes North Bay Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger.
Ill-planned recovery could sicken ‘good’ North Bay economy, expert warns
The North Bay appears to be skirting recession, but a financial crisis may be coming unless local government and private entities can table politics and effectively plan recovery from the October wildfires, says a noted local economist set to speak in Sonoma County on Friday.
Rebuilding the Mendocino, Lake construction workforce from the ground up
Following a Sonoma County pattern now in its second year, Mendocino County Construction Corps starts training high school seniors to be ready to employ in the building trades this summer.
Fires fuel a daunting push to solve Sonoma County housing crisis
Officials are calling for a surge in Sonoma County home construction not seen since the decades after World War II. But can such a bid overcome enormous labor, materials and planning obstacles?
New Retirement: Volunteerism flourishes after the wildfires
The impact of the fires quickly doubled the number who stepped up at the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. Volunteerism is also one of the pillars of a rewarding retirement, writes columnist Gloria Dunn-Violin.
Company under investigation for allegedly doing debris-removal without license
Authorities say the company may be seeking additional business as the private cleanup deadline approaches.
Sonoma Co. hotels unseasonably full in January; Napa Co. revenue up 8%
Three months after the wildfires left thousands without homes, Sonoma County continues double-digit gains in hotel occupancy and revenue, besting strong Napa County growth, according to January figures released Wednesday.
Number of Sonoma Co. homes for sale ‘has never been this low’
January ended with the fewest number of homes for sale in Sonoma County since at least 1990, another startling ripple of October’s wildfires, which claimed more than 5,100 homes.
Mendocino to host fire rebuild expo March 24
Coming Home: Redwood Fire Rebuild Expo is a free all-day community-centered event geared at educating, informing, and connecting the communities affected by the recent fires with resilient, affordable rebuilding options.
Group promoting green rebuilds to host free expo
Homeowners looking to rebuild after the North Bay wildfires with energy-efficiency, fire protection and water conservation in mind can attend a free Santa Rosa expo next Friday.
Time is running out to remove wildfire debris in Sonoma County
As government-organized cleanup of properties burned in the October wildfires is in the home stretch, officials set a deadline for private debris removal in Santa Rosa and unincorporated areas.
Owner of Journey’s End mobile home park in Santa Rosa won’t rebuild after Tubbs fire
End of the road for Journey’s End
Study: Sonoma, Napa vineyards 99% undamaged by wildfires
A new survey from Sonoma State University says North Coast vineyards and wineries were largely untouched by the October wildfires.
Santa Rosa: No fines for wildfire-cleanup contractor hosting workers’ trailers
A Santa Rosa official said staff still will determine how many trailers can remain on contractor Michael Wolff’s property.
How will fires impact Sonoma’s and Napa’s vineyards?
Most vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties were unscathed by the October wildfires. But growers with vineyards exposed to extreme heat are anxious to find out how the fires will affect their prized crop.
Santa Rosa wildfire cleanup workers may get evicted over permit dispute
A Santa Rosa contractor providing a free place for employees to live while they clean up wildfire debris is in a showdown with the city. The dispute could force him to evict the workers from his Coffey Park property.
What would it take to build 30,000 new homes?
Sonoma County voters could be asked to approve a housing bond to speed reconstruction, and the county and Santa Rosa could combine campuses and free up land. These other lofty housing ideas were floated Tuesday.
Businesses struggle back after wildfire
Retailers and restaurants along Santa Rosa’s Cleveland Avenue affected by the October fires remain mostly closed nearly four months later.