Rebuilding permits work in progress
A little over three months ago, dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers descended on Kenwood and Glen Ellen to begin clean up, the first step in a lengthy process of recovering from the havoc and damage wreaked by the wildfires in October 2017.
An estimated 140 residences burned in Kenwood, 183 in Glen Ellen, three in Eldridge, 48 in the Mayacamas area, and 33 in Schell-Vista.
As of May 3, 363 of those 407 damaged lots had been cleared. At a press conference on May 10, federal and local officials said the government clean up effort is 99 percent complete. They expect to have all the government debris removal done by the end of May.
According to Permit Sonoma, which handles construction and land use permitting for unincorporated Sonoma County, a total of 41 building permits have been issued for fire-damaged parcels located in Bennett Valley, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. Five of those 41 are for accessory dwelling units (ADU), sometimes called a granny unit. In an effort to boost available housing units, the county has incentivized the building of ADUs by loosening restrictions and dropping fees for those under a certain square footage. It has been reported that some homeowners are constructing ADUs first, in the hopes of moving back onto their properties sooner, and then applying to rebuild their main residence at a later date.
While 41 building permits have been applied for, they represent only about 10 percent of the 407 damaged parcels, and are in various stages of approval. Permits must move through a six-step approval process, starting when the application has been received by Permit Sonoma and entered into the permit database (“started”), moving through the plan check steps, to “issued” and then “finaled.” Once a permit is “issued,” construction can begin.
Twenty-three of the 41 permits applied for are “issued” or “finaled” and ready to begin construction. That mirrors the trend for all the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, where a total of 184 permits have been applied for, with 118 “issued” or “finaled.”
The majority of the permits applied for have been in the Kenwood and Glen Ellen areas, with 11 building permits applied for in Kenwood and 17 in Glen Ellen.
According to Permit Sonoma data for April, residential building permits valued under $100,000 took 11.5 weeks to issue, while those over $100,000 took 5.1 weeks.
Permit Sonoma has just released an interactive map so the public can stay up to date: sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Administration/Rebuilding-Permits-Data/.