Wildfire Debris Removal Operations Center to Open Monday in Calabasas

Los Angeles and Ventura county property owners whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged during the Hill and Woolsey fires and are interested in opting in to the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program meet face-to-face with debris removal experts from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), CalRecycle, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and the Ventura County Environmental Health Division beginning Monday, January 14, when state and county disaster recovery officials open their Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC).

The DROC, located at 26610 Agoura Road in Calabasas, will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday each week and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Available services at the DROC include assistance in completing the Right-of-Entry Permit (ROE) allowing debris removal teams hired by the state access to the property as well as one-on-one discussions regarding the concerns of each property owner regarding participation in the program and issues specific to their property.

Participation in the state-run program is optional for eligible property owners, but is recommended since participants, including those with no insurance, suffer no out-of-pocket costs, and the process is more-streamlined.  Debris removal crews will work with the property owner to recover valuables and keepsakes as well as identify and preserve pet cemeteries, retaining walls, septic systems and other special features.  The state-run program also emphasizes the safety of the residences, sensitive facilities and watersheds, as well as limiting the impact of traffic in the affected areas.

Property owners also can choose to opt out of the state-run program, but work done by themselves or by private contractors will require submission by the property owner of an application and work plan to the appropriate local authority, as well as adhere to the same strict standards as the ones used in the state-run program.

ROE’s must be submitted by interested property owners in Ventura County by January 14, 2019, and by property owners in Los Angeles County by January 28, 2019.

Under the state-run program, property owners will be contacted at least 24 to 48 hours before the debris removal crews access their property.   The DROC will make at least two attempts to contact property owners by either phone, text message or email of the work start date.    If the DROC is unable to contact the property owners, crews will still conduct debris removal operations on the property and will make every effort to follow the instructions on the ROE for that property as they understand them.

Work is scheduled to begin in areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties on January 14 with site assessments,asbestos assessments, the tipping of chimneys and removal of asbestos containing materials. Debris removal is scheduled to begin on January 28.  During their work, crews will be wearing protective clothing and equipment, including Tyvek suits and respirators.

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