Even though steady rains in Southern California today are preventing state contractors from conducting debris removal operations on properties in the Woolsey and Hill burn areas, officials with the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC) in Calabasas report that debris generated by the fires has been cleared from 32 properties in Los Angeles and Ventura counties since debris removal operations began last week.
The removal of debris from properties whose owners opted into the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program follows site assessments and asbestos surveys conducted earlier on those properties in preparation for the actual debris removal.
In Los Angeles County, state contractors have cleared debris from 22 properties. In Ventura County, crews have cleared debris from 10 properties.
Assessment and monitoring teams contracted by the state will now collect soil samples from each cleared property for independent testing and analysis by certified laboratories to ensure that the soil meets state cleanup goals. Once approved soil samples are verified by the state, debris removal officials will schedule properties for erosion control.
In addition to removing debris from the 32 properties in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, state contractors have completed 482 site assessments and 385 asbestos surveys related to private properties affected by the fires.
In Los Angeles County, crews have completed 397 site assessments and 319 asbestos surveys on properties impacted by the Woolsey Fire. In Ventura County, crews have completed 85 site assessments and 66 asbestos surveys on properties impacted by the Woolsey and Hill fires.
Site assessments and asbestos surveys are critical steps in the state’s debris removal program and on a property owner’s road to rebuilding. State contractors must complete a site assessment before beginning debris removal operations on each property, and property owners cannot begin to rebuild until debris is removed, soil from the property is tested to ensure it meets California’s environmental standards and erosion control measures have been implemented on their property.
During site assessments of properties whose owners have opted into the state program, contractors document and photograph property lines, the location of septic tanks, the footprints of foundations and ash, as well as objects that pose a hazard or hamper operations such as trees, pools and vehicles.
During the asbestos surveys, state contractors canvass each property for asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and collect samples of materials suspected of containing ACMs for testing. Properties with ACMs are scheduled for abatement. Those with no ACMs present are scheduled for debris removal. Contractors also may tip standing chimneys for later removal.
Under the state program, administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and CalRecycle, property owners who opt in incur no direct costs for the removal of eligible debris, including foundations, concrete, ash and metal.
Participation in the state program is easy. Property owners, including those who do not have debris removal insurance coverage, only need to complete and submit a Right of Entry (ROE) permit form to their respective county. The ROE allows state contractors to access the property.
Property owners can opt out of the state program and seek approval through the local program to do the work themselves or hire a private contractor. The same safety environmental standards for the state program apply to property owners who do the work themselves or hire private contractor.
Local officials in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say it is critical for all property owners with structures significantly burned by the fires to clear their debris, either by signing up for the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program or cleaning the debris privately to avoid creating a public health nuisance and being subject to summary abatement procedures.
February 15, 2019, is the deadline for property owners in Los Angeles and Ventura counties to submit their ROEs.
Property owners can obtain assistance completing their ROEs and meet one-on-one with debris removal experts from their respective counties to discuss their concerns at the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC) located at 26610 Agoura Road in Calabasas. The DROC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. Call 1-805-819-8791 to schedule an appointment at the DROC. ROEs for Ventura County residents also can be submitted to the Ventura County Government Center, Environmental Health Division, 800 S. Victoria Avenue, Ventura.
Debris officials will notify property owners who have opted in to the state program 24-48 hours prior to the start of debris removal operations on their property, Property owners may walk the property with crews before work begins.
For more information in Los Angeles County, visit lacounty.gov/LACountyRecovers or call 1-626-979-5370. For more information in Ventura County, visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org or call 1-805-504-7869.
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