Fire News

Project Phoenix Update

In June U.S. Congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) representatives met with Project Phoenix, homeowners, builders, and the media for a fact-gathering site tour. There is a joint Senate/House request to look at technologies to reduce urban losses from wildfires. A final report should be issued in March 2005. If you have any comments regarding this issue, please send them to [[email protected]], and we will forward them to the GAO.

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi continues to press legislative reform. Here is an update to the Homeowner's Bill of Rights as of June 10:

Assembly Bill (AB) 2199 (authored by Kehoe, D-San Diego): Establishes a minimum 12-month period in noncatastrophic losses--with six-month extensions for good cause--and a 24-month period for declared emergencies to repair, rebuild, or replace a home once the actual cash value payment is made. In a total loss, there is flexibility to rebuild or replace in a different location.

AB 2962 (Pavley, D-Coastal LA) as proposed to be amended: Establishes a uniform measurement of "actual cash value." Insurers may not depreciate items that do not typically depreciate during the normal life of a structure--i.e., walls and concrete--but may depreciate items that wear out, like carpet. Requires reduced premiums for a total loss--i.e., liability coverage only. Insurers are prohibited from canceling or not renewing coverage during rebuilding.

Senate Bill (SB) 64 (Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo) as proposed to be amended: Authorizes the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to run a voluntary mediation program between Cedar fire victims and insurers relating to issues such as underinsurance, scope of loss, and claims settlement practices.

SB 1474 (Escutia, D-Norwalk), as proposed to be amended: Prohibits an insurer from refusing to issue a policy, renew a policy, or base a surcharge on claims related to a natural disaster, claims that are filed but not payable under the policy, claims resulting from fire losses in which the insured property was not the inception point of the fire, and claims for which the exposure to loss has been mitigated.

SB 1855 (Alpert, D-San Diego) as proposed to be amended: When buying insurance and every two years, insurers must disclose the types of coverages available--i.e., Guaranteed, Limited Replacement, Actual Cash Value. Requires insurers to include more information about the insured property on the declaration page and authorizes the CDI to report to the governor and legislature.

We will continue to update you on the progress of these bills.

Bob Ilko, Project Phoenix Chair

Local Assistance Center

The Local Assistance Center (LAC) still operates out of the Information Center. The staff available to assist you includes a representative from my office, as well as specialists from the city's Department of Development Services and volunteers from the Scripps Ranch Civic Association.

Beginning Thursday, July 1, my office at the LAC will be staffed on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 am to 5 pm. Please contact my office at 790-0122 or 619-236-6655 if you need assistance.

Development Services hours remain:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8 am-5 pm;
  • Thursday: 8 am-6 pm; and,
  • First and third Saturday of each month: 9 am-1 pm.
Councilmember Brian Maienschein

Energy Efficient Homes

Rebuild a Greener San Diego offers financial incentives for Scripps Ranch residents who lost their homes in the Cedar fire. To find out how to get $1,700-$2,000 in rebates for energy efficiency measures, and additional incentives for renewable energy installations, call 1-877-284-5373 or visit the website [].

"Burnout Sisters" Heal Together

There are many different community organizations in Scripps Ranch that enable you to connect with neighbors who have something in common with you. The newest organization was created following the Cedar fire. It is called the "Burnout Sisters" and was founded by Jan Arbuckle and Cary Meyer. They both lost their homes and thought that a support group was desperately needed to help women fire survivors cope.

This organization meets once or twice a month and provides comfort and fellowship. Members also research several household necessities and contact businesses requesting discounts for fire-affected residents so that we can increase our purchasing power. At some meetings, we just chat, vent, and play Bingo.

Our group has grown, and we hope to reach out to more women who may feel frustrated or depressed. Everyone who has come to our meetings agrees that this is a great venue for female fire survivors to deal more positively with this tragedy.

Please contact Tina Bagnas at 759-4964 or [[email protected]] to be added to our membership email list. Tina will notify you regarding upcoming meetings and events. Bring a friend!

Pat Matthews

Bob Ilko Honored

Project Phoenix chair, Bob Ilko, was honored with a Channel 10 Leadership Award for his extensive community work in the aftermath of the Cedar fire. Scripps Ranch Civic Association President Marc Sorensen nominated Bob for the incredible amount of time and effort he gives to help rebuild our community.

Starting the day of the fire, Bob helped evacuate his neighborhood. After that, Bob worked feverishly to help fire survivors to the extent that it nearly became a second full-time job. Whether it was demolition, insurance issues, coordinating construction traffic, or any such matter, Bob was there to help.

Bob also took what he learned here and helped fire-affected residents in other areas. We congratulate Bob and thank him for his continuing work for our community. We also thank his family--wife Janet, daughter Alicia, and son Steven--for not only sharing Bob with us but for helping as well!

Goodbye, Neighbor

[Editor's note: Darlene Bourdon and her family lost their home on La Colina Road. They have been kind enough to share their story with us each month. This month, sad news clouds the progress being made on their home.]

As a progress report, this should have been a joy to write. New Horizon Builders have made great progress. The rough framing of our house is near completion. We have endlessly wandered throughout our newly built wooden skeleton, remembering rooms as they were and looking ahead to selecting flooring, paints, fixtures, and all the other detailed decisions awaiting us.

Rather than take delight in all this progress, we are saddened at the loss of our longtime neighbor Tom Whalen, who passed away in May. Tom was also rebuilding his home in the aftermath of the fire. Almost completed, this home on Handrich Drive now serves to remind all of us who knew Tom that it's the inhabitant, not the structure, that gives significance to an address.

In an area where homes seem to change hands as often as the market will allow, Tom was an original owner. Retired from both the Navy and the school district, his history and charismatic nature gave meaning to the concept of neighborhood.

The builder will finish the home, and eventually someone else will live there. To those of us who knew him as a neighbor, it forever will be "Tom's house."

Darlene Bourdon

Thank You's

Thank you to Wal-Mart for donating dozens of beach and pool toys for young fire survivors. Also, thank you to fire-affected resident Joni Low who coordinated this donation.