Rebuilding

Fire Anniversary Events

To mark the first anniversary of the Cedar Fire, the SRCA is hosting an event to bring the community together on that fateful Sunday, one year later. On Sunday, Oct. 24, from 11 am to 2 pm at the Community Park, please join your friends and neighbors at "Community Unity: Scripps Ranch Stronger Than Ever." There will be a barbecue, lots of food, games, jumpers, and much more! The entire community is invited.

Then at 2 pm, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church hosts a nondenominational community service marking the one-year fire anniversary. St. Gregory's is located at 11451 Blue Cypress Drive.

Also, on the actual date of the fire, Tuesday, Oct. 26, St. Gregory's again will host a nondenominational community service at 7 pm. All these events are meant to enable the community to come together as they remember not only the devastating fire but the way neighbors joined together to help each other.

Maienschein Looks at Progress After Cedar Fire

We have accomplished a great deal since October 26, 2003--the day the Cedar Fire destroyed or damaged 345 homes in Scripps Ranch. I'd like to share with you the progress we've made in two key areas.

Rebuilding Our Community: As of mid-September, the city issued 242 permits to rebuild homes in Scripps Ranch. That means 78% of fire victims have permits. To give you an idea how phenomenal this statistic is, it took three years to issue about the same percent of permits for homes destroyed or damaged in the Laguna Beach fire. Oakland, Northridge, and other cities rebuilding from disasters were significantly slower in their recovery than Laguna Beach.

The Local Assistance Center (LAC), located at the Information Center, remains open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, at least until the middle of December. I will continue to keep a member of my staff at the LAC on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Public Safety Improvements: Many of you know that I chair the City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. During the past year, the committee has implemented a number of positive changes within the Fire/Rescue Department to help prevent another tragedy as devastating as the Cedar Fire. The most significant improvement in fire protection since the Cedar Fire has been the establishment and funding of a permanent Fire and Rescue Helicopter Program.

To assist with funding the training and hiring of new personnel and the purchase of new equipment, I proposed a plan to add $100 million to the Police and Fire/Rescue Departments during the next five years. I am pleased to announce that the full City Council adopted the proposal.

I also want to pass along a great resource. The Burnout Sisters, a fire victims' support group, has compiled an extensive list of stores offering discounts to fire victims. The list is on the SRCA website at [www.scrippsranch.org/projectphoenix/discounts.asp].

This has been an amazing rebuilding effort, and I want to thank the entire community for coming together as only Scripps Ranch can! I am so proud to represent such an amazing neighborhood! If I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me at my City Hall office at 619-236-6655, my Scripps Ranch office at 790-0122, or via email at [[email protected]].

Councilmember Brian Maienschein

Project Phoenix Update

LOHICA: "Look Out Here It Comes Again" will become a mantra every October. The Santa Ana winds come every year, and this year is different in that it is drier than last year. Please see that you have adequate insurance, an evacuation plan, and proper supplies on hand when left without water, electricity, food, and gas.

Local Assistance Center (LAC): Due to the slowdown at the Information Center, the city's Development Services Department is no longer staffing the LAC on the Saturdays the center is open. Further reduction may occur if a noticeable decrease for service is noted.

New: Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi holds a public hearing in San Diego on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 1 pm to 5 pm, and 6:30 pm to 8 pm at the San Diego County Water Authority board room located at 4677 Overland Avenue. For details visit [www.sdcwa.org].

The hearing will focus on "underinsurance"--i.e., how insureds and insurers calculate how much coverage to establish. This is important to every Scripps Ranch homeowner, as nearly 67% of all policies are underinsured by more than 30%, according to an industry survey done in December 2003.

As for the Homeowners Bill of Rights, our governor signed three of the five Homeowners Bill of Rights into law! Everything people in this community and other survivor communities have done to impact the implementation of these reform measures was a success, especially after being told the bills would likely die in committee.

It's an amazing legacy to leave in the wake of this horrible fire that cost so many so much. As of press time, the fourth bill (AB 2962) was expected to be signed Thursday, Sept. 30. If you have been non-renewed or are having difficulty finding insurance, let us know.

As it approaches one year from the fire, homeowners who have suffered losses should consult a licensed attorney about whether to file a lawsuit within the year before the statute of limitations lapses. Seek competent legal counsel before relying on promises or understandings that the statute of limitations has "tolled" during the period of time a claim remained open.

Always check with the Contractors State License Board to verify that the contractor you want to hire is properly licensed, insured (workers comp), and bonded (license bond). Go to [www.cslb.ca.gov]. If you receive a 20-Day Preliminary Notice from a subcontractor, supplier, or rental provider, this is not a lien but is a prerequisite for recording a Mechanic's Lien.

Please confirm that each person working for your contractor gives you a "waiver and release" from each sub in exchange for payment. There are four different releases to choose from. Go to [http://arcc.co.san-diego.ca.us/services/grantorgrantee/] to see if any liens have been recorded.

If you have any video or print media about the Cedar Fire, please let us know. Fire folks are putting together clippings for remembrance. If you would like more information, please contact Bob Ilko at [[email protected]].

Bob Ilko, Project Phoenix Chair

The 100-Acre Wood Project

After the fire, it appeared that most of the mature eucalyptus in Carroll Canyon had survived. Now it is clear that the majority of the trees are dead. As the trees dry out and collapse, they create a dangerous situation along Pomerado Road and the nearby hiking trails. The city is removing the dead trees, and we are seeing large open areas created.

However, the eucalyptus hasn't given up the fight. The eucalyptus species, known as widow makers in Australia, promote and thrive on fire and are making a dramatic comeback. "Euc's" are equipped with unique, normally dormant lignotubers in their roots and epicormic buds beneath their bark. Triggered by the fire, new shoots are bursting from surviving roots and out of trunks to support life-sustaining photosynthesis.

If nothing is done, the dense eucalyptus groves will return during the next decade. If we allow that to happen, we have learned nothing from the terrible losses in Carroll Canyon caused by the fire. The 100-Acre Wood project is a concept for a long-range reforestation project intended to address this problem.

The goal is to transition the eastern-most 100 acres of Carroll Canyon into a very special place--a safe place to be. Indigenous, drought tolerant, fire resistant, park-like groves will require community support, volunteers, and the positive participation of the city. The question is--do we have the desire, the tenacity, and the stamina to do this job? This is Scripps Ranch. I think we do. Do you want to participate? Please email us at [[email protected]].

Jerry Mitchell

Closer to Home

[Editor's note: Darlene Bourdon and her family lost their home on La Colina Road. Since the fire, they have been kind enough to share their story with the community to give us a firsthand look at the rebuilding process.]

It was only 11:30 am, the temperature was already at 95 degrees and getting hotter. Eight men covered head to foot in thick clothing and heavy rubber boots were in the blistering sun, mixing cement, which they lugged up scaffolding in order to stucco my house. Watching them gave me a real appreciation for the effort that goes into building a house.

Most of the work has been proceeding at an impressive pace, in spite of the many hindrances that seems to intrude on the plans for a Thanksgiving move-in. I've even caused a few delays myself. Change your mind about what kind of window goes where, and things can slow down considerably.

Our contractor has met all the time-consuming challenges without flinching; that is, all except one. The bees! One morning at about 7 am, several framers and electricians arrived for work. At 7:15 am, their tool belts flapping against their sides, they were seen darting out of the house in all directions. A beehive was inside a crawl space, out of view, where it remained unnoticed until the inadvertent intrusion of a skill saw.

It seems bees are particularly fond of setting up hives in the crevices of new pine structures. Ours was the third construction site on the street to host a hive. The bees were the only things busy until a removal service could be summoned.

The whole North Pomerado neighborhood has experienced a great deal of progress. One home was recently finished and several more are near completion. Many of us meet during neighborhood walks, touring each other's homes to see the various stages of construction and share common experiences and good ideas.

There are so many stages to building a home, and each seems to impact us differently. For me, the greatest emotional boost came after the installation of the wallboard, especially since we are building the exact same house we had prior to the fire. My first walk through the house with its walls in place was an emotional rush. For the first time since we started building, I actually felt at home.

Darlene Bourdon

Looking Forward to

Moving Back

The Burnout Sisters have gathered information regarding various businesses offering discounts to those rebuilding their homes. We have an extensive list that is available at our meetings and on the SRCA website at [www.scrippsranch.org]. Present your FEMA card at time of purchase.

At our meeting on Sunday, Nov. 7, some of these businesses will be on hand to answer questions about their products: JCPenney, Custom Decorating; Karen Sybolt-Jester from Southern Living; Olhausen Pool Tables; and, Jaanine Marshall from Pampered Chef. The meeting will be at the Bagnas home from 2 to 5 pm. Please RSVP to Tina Bagnas at [[email protected]].

The Road to Resilience meetings we had were well attended and have sparked further interest. Some fire folk would like to meet regularly to discuss the challenges their families face after the fire.

If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Tina Bagnas at the email address above to be placed on our email list. Special thanks to Linda Schrenk, Ph.D., and Dr. Carstens, members of the San Diego Psychological Association for facilitating the meetings.

The Burnout Sisters meet once a month. Contact Tina to find out the date and location of the October meeting. Please join us for friendship, support, and encouragement as we look forward to a bright future back in our homes.

Pat Matthews

Gardens Reborn!

There is a free landscape fair for those affected by the fire, who live in fire-prone areas, or who want to create landscapes appropriate to San Diego.

  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 9;
  • Time: 9 am-2 pm; and,
  • Place: City of San Diego Environmental Services Green Building, 9601 Ridgehaven Court in Kearny Mesa.

Focusing on environmentally friendly landscaping, the fair is cosponsored by the San Diego Horticultural Society and the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department. For more information, visit [www.sdhortsoc.org] or call Randy Blum at 492-5036.