After the Woolsey Wildfire, the rebuilding process may seem overwhelming. We have compiled all the information you may need in one place, creating a comprehensive guide for what you need to know to rebuild your home or place of business.
Insurance After the Fire
- If you have not done so already, check with your insurance provider and ask about policy coverage as soon as possible.
- Keep receipts for food, temporary lodging, and other expenses that may be covered.
- Save pictures of the damage.
Preparing for the Rebuild
1. Remove debris
Debris from burned structures can be hazardous and must be removed. To do so, a HazMat team must inspect the property. The inspections for the Woolsey Fire have already been completed (January 25, 2019). If your residence is not on the list of inspections, contact LA County at 323-890-4000.
You have the option to participate in a free debris removal service courtesy of the California Office of Emergency Services. The due date for the Right of Entry form for the team to access your property was January 31, 2019.
If you are ineligible for free debris removal or decide to opt out, debris removal is still required. You may clear debris yourself or hire a contractor, but all debris must have been removed by March 15, 2019.
If there was no structural damage and only the landscape was burned, there is no need for HazMat clearance. However, any tree removal must be approved by the city biologist.
If you have a pool, remove any debris, clean the filters, and check that everything is working properly. Do not drain the pool. A permit can be obtained to dispose of the pool water. You must also take measures to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the pool.
2. Contact utility companies to get your utilities back online
- For electricity, contact Southern California Edison: SCE.com/LocalPlanning or call 800-655-4555.
- For gas, contact SoCalGas (Sempra): SoCalGas.com/fires or call 877-238-0092.
- For water, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works: https://dpw.lacounty.gov/rebuild/ or call 877-637-366.
3. Check for on-site wastewater treatment system damage (this is a necessary step)
4. Install temporary housing
Submit an application for a temporary housing building permit. Temporary housing includes mobile homes, trailers, and RVs. Permits last for 4 years, but they can be renewed yearly for up to 6 years.
Before You Rebuild
1. Hire design professionals
Depending on the damage and your rebuild plans, professionals you hire may include architects, expediters, engineers, general contractors, designers, landscape architects, and others. Some companies can streamline the process and will work with you from the design phase to the construction phase.
2. Research permit history to determine which structures are able to be replaced
Request tax assessor records by going to City Hall and providing proof of ownership and matching photo ID. Property owner representatives should arrive instead with a notarized Owner Authorization Form.
Research existing public records by visiting the OnBase electronic files system. Look under ESD and PLN on the dropdown menu and search by street number and name.
Request additional records from the California Coastal Commission Ventura office by emailing Barbara Rodriguez at BRodriguez@coastal.ca.gov or by calling 805-585-1800.
3. Research incentives and rebates
Numerous rebates and incentives to become more energy and water efficient exist to help you lower the cost of your rebuild. For example, the Malibu Smart program provides rebates when you use water-saving technologies in your rebuild.
4. Consult all relevant departments before you submit
The LA County Fire Department must review and approve plans for rebuilding any destroyed structure. Call 818-880-0341 or visit Malibu City Hall between 9 and 11 am for more information.
Depending on where you get your potable water, you will need to obtain approval from different places. If your water is from LA County Water District 29, you must visit their office for a Will Serve letter, which is required for Planning Approval. If your water is from a well, you must submit an application for well reuse to Los Angeles County Public Health. If your water is from a water tank, follow these guidelines to disinfect your tank.
Make sure you meet current regulations for onsite wastewater treatment systems if you are redesigning your building. You will go through different processes to make sure your septic system is approved depending on the type of rebuild.
If you would like to keep your existing foundation, it will need a feasibility review by the City Environmental Sustainability Department. Find out if you should keep your existing foundation. Depending on the type of rebuild (see step 5 below), you may need to submit a geotechnical report or structural engineer’s certification of foundation, and potentially mitigate geological hazards through design according to this flowchart.
5. Prepare your application to rebuild
Depending on the proposed changes to the original structure, the application process will be different.
If your proposed design change is within a 10% increase in height/volume/square footage and less than 18 feet in additional area, on land flatter than 3:1, and outside of required setbacks: Planning Verification (PV) plus 10%. Planning fees are $165. Fill out the application and the presubmittal checklist.
If the design change is within a 10% increase in height/volume/square footage and over 18 feet in additional area, or on land steeper than 3:1, or encroaching into required side or front yard setbacks: Administrative Plan Review (APR) with Site Plan Review (SPR). Planning fees are $1316 + $2895 (if reviewing height) or + $2468 (if reducing setbacks or working on steep slopes). Fill out the submittal checklist and additional forms.
If the design expands over 10% outside the appeal zone: stack applications. You can submit a PV with an APR, or APR with SPR. See above for prices and forms.
If the design expands over 10% inside the appeal zone or relocates the structure within the lot: Coastal Development Permit (CDP). Planning fees are $7107 with additional fees as needed. Fill out the submittal checklist and additional forms.
Obtaining permits and submitting plans
In addition to the permits and applications above, you must obtain both zoning approval from the planning department and building code approval from the Environmental Sustainability Department.
Visit the Woolsey Fire Rebuild Counter at City Hall to discuss your project (hours: M-Th 7:30am-5:30 pm, F 7:30am-4:30 pm; phone: (310) 456-2489 x485).
Follow this building safety check plan process to approve your plan before you start work. You must submit the plans to the city specialist in public works, geology, and coastal engineering. If corrections are made, you must resubmit them. Once you have the final approval and stamp, you can submit the plans to Planning.
Once the plans are complete and permits obtained, you should find a contractor to complete construction. Design Everest can refer you to a contractor in your area to help you get started with the construction. Additionally, we can assist them with Construction Administration to ensure that the construction goes as planned.
Inspections are required during construction to ensure your home is being built according to plan. Schedule an inspection online or call 310-456-2489 x312. Once the final inspection is passed, you will receive a certificate of occupancy and will be free to move in!
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.
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