We expect much more information and an inclusive map to roll out on butterecovers.org in the next 3 weeks but in the meantime to provide some clarification, the Zone Captains sat down with Casey Hatcher and Paul Hahn of Butte County to obtain the following info.
TREE PROGRAM OVERVIEW
All eligible property owners are required to do one of 2 things:
Enter government program – ROE packet includes permission to go on property as well as property info (location of septic, etc) and insurance info that was in effect on 11/8/18 (same as from debris removal program). Then a certified arborist will come assess trees and identify hazards to public right-of-ways, contractors will fell trees and remove logs (only for trees they remove), they may leave slash piles. Property owners will have NO option to keep wood from trees fell by government program.
Enter the “Private Program”, which includes an inspection access form, and owners can either have hazard trees removed privately (no reimbursement of costs) or property owners that may have already privately removed trees should elect the private program. Once removed, call for inspection. Cal-OES contracted arborist will inspect. If upon inspection any remaining tree is deemed a hazard, it must be removed. Property owners would have the option to enter the government program at this time for removal of the additional tree(s). THERE IS NO DISPUTE OF THE CAL-OES CONTRACT ARBORIST IDENTIFIED HAZARDS IN EITHER THE PRIVATE OR GOVERNMENT PROGRAM – REMOVAL OF TREES DEEMED HAZARDOUS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.
Eligible property owners that do not complete an ROE will be subject to abatement.
Eligible properties will be REQUIRED to participate. Eligibility criteria are likely to change as the County learns if removal of hazardous trees that threaten private roads will be included in the scope of the project, but also as the process by which the identification of eligible properties is refined.
If your property is addressed on a public road, eligibility seems clear.
If your property is addressed on a private road, it may be eligible now, it may be ineligible now but that could change as the scope widens, or it could remain ineligible. Property owners are encouraged to call (530) 552-3030 to verify eligibility. When the GIS-based map goes online (hopefully in the next week), property owners may check the map for eligibility of their property.
Letters are being drafted and will be sent out soon to eligible property owners at the mailing address to which your property tax statements will also be sent. As eligible properties are added, additional letters will be sent.
REMINDER: USPS Forwarding addresses need to be updated every 6 months.
Ordinances in both Butte County and Town of Paradise linked ENROLLMENT (not completion, unlike Debris Removal) in the ROE program to permit process to help get people to comply.
County: if an owner want a building permit issued or finaled, they must be ENROLLED (doesn’t need to be complete). Only affects permits for rebuild/expansion. If re-roof or water heater, etc doesn’t apply.
Town of Paradise: Cannot submit permit application for ANY permit until enrolled (doesn’t have to be complete).
If a property owner has already taken down trees privately, there will be no reimbursement.
If elect government program, CalOES will bill insurance companies or property owners after completion of the project for insurance monies specific to trees ONLY. Property owners should talk with their insurance adjustor/agent about the policy that was effective 11/8/18 and what coverage there may have been for trees. The process is the same as for debris removal. Example: If your insurance policy has tree removal separate for trees/vegetation, CalOES will collect from that pool. If there is coverage for trees/shrubs but not specifically for removal – that pool within the policy would likely cover removal AND new plantings. Save the receipts for monies spent privately for removal and/or new plantings – when CalOES bills for the tree removal, receipts for those expenses are likely to be deducted from the available funds CalOES is able to collect. If you haven't completed landscaping purchases associated with your rebuild, you would tell them that and billing is likely to be delayed. If that section of the insurance policy is tied to your rebuild, there will be no collection until after rebuild, even if that is years down the line. Suggestion: find out from your insurance agent or adjustor what each element of your policy can be used for and maximize what it can be used for since CalOES can only collect the remainder.
Q: What is step one?
A: Step one is to sign an ROE packet either opting into the program or opting out of the program.
Q: What happens after we sign up?
A: Regardless of if you opt in or opt out, once you sign the form (and for private program either you have had hazardous trees removed or do not believe you have any hazardous trees) you will need to call for an inspection. After inspection is set a Cal-OES contracted arborist will inspect. If upon inspection any remaining tree is deemed a hazard, it must be removed. Property owners would have the option to enter the government program at this time for removal of the additional tree(s).
Q: If the state arborist deems a tree hazardous can it be disputed?
A: No. You may not dispute the decision the arborist has made.
Q: Can an owner be reimbursed for trees already removed?
Q: After the trees are identified what will happen?
A: Contractors will fell trees and remove logs. They may leave slash piles.
Q: Can we keep the wood of the tree(s) they fell?
A: Property owners will have NO option to keep wood from trees fell by the government program. If you opt into the private program you will be allowed to cut up and/or use the wood as you see fit within an allowed time period.
Q: How do we opt into keeping the wood from the fell trees?
A: If you want to keep the trees, you MUST enroll in the “private program”. Exception may be slash. If enrolled in government program you have NO OPTION to keep wood. They will identify, fell, and remove trees (only what they fell). Property owners may NOT maintain log deck on property (as it would be a fire hazard). Owners must split and stack or otherwise deal with trees and slash.
Q: If we opt out of the program and hazardous trees are discovered on our lot can we opt back into the government program?
Q: How do I know if my property is eligible?
A: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-552-3030 (ROE center) to check eligibility.
Q: What if have sold or transferred title since 11/08/2018?
A: If a property has been transferred to a new owner since the fire, the new owner needs to enroll if eligible. Unless they have insurance coverage that specifically covers removal of trees that were damaged previous to owning the property, could elect government program and owe nothing for cost to fell trees. Owners will be responsible for removal or elimination of slash piles left by tree workers.
Q: How do we send in the Tree ROE form? A: There are several options to submit your Tree Removal ROE:
In person at Paradise Library 9-5 Mon-Fri (in community room as long as power is on)
In person at Chico Library 10-6 Tues-Thurs, 10-5 Fri/Sat
In person at 78 Table Mountain Blvd Oroville 8-5 M-F (near Employment Services)
Mail to: 205 Mira Loma Ste 50, Oroville, CA 95965
Email to: email@example.com.
Q: When will tree removal begin?
A: The states goal is to start in January of 2020.
Q: Can an owner be present at the time of tree inspection/removal?
A: Property owners can request via ROE paperwork or via phone to be present during any stage of the process – during eligibility verification, biological/cultural assessments related to environmental laws, registered forester inspection, and/or removal.