Sonoma County streamlines rebuilding for homes burned in North Bay Fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Owners of approximately 2,000 burned homes in Sonoma County just caught a break. The Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to establish a separate permitting office that will expedite rebuilding, and cut fees in the process.

"We'll be looking at eight days, today, before the county must get back to them after applying for a permit," said Board Chair James Gore. "Government should not be standing in the way. It should be making the process easier."

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As of now, every permit in the county, whether for cannabis, windows, solar power, or building, goes through one office. Beginning February 13, Sonoma County will add a one-stop-shop Resilient Permit Center, staffed by an outside agency. And, because these will be rebuilding projects rather than new ones, the county expects to reduce fees. "No need to permit wells, roads, or driveways," said Tennis Wick, who runs the office.

Where new construction of a new, 1,500 square foot home might cost $30,000 - fire victims might pay $5,000 instead.

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"This will be great," said Jeffrey Rexford of Leff Construction, which already has fifteen fire rebuilds in the works. "It will save time and effort."

Sonoma County is allocating $23.5 million for the two-year project. It expects fees to cover the cost of investment.

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