Fewer than 30 percent of LNU fire-damaged homes looking to rebuild so far

New growth is coming back near trees at the Lake Solano campgrounds that were burned in the LNU fires. Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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By Todd R. Hansen
McNaughton Media

Solano County has issued permits to 98 property owners looking to rebuild after the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in 2020.

There were 309 Solano homes lost, while one home sustained major damage and 59 homes received minor damage, the county Department of Resource Management reported on June 29.

“There were 501 properties that had structures impacted by the fire and that were evaluated by the department to determine extent of clean up necessary to rebuild. Of these, 364 were determined to require cleanup through either a state-sponsored program, or if the property performed the cleanup themselves, with oversight by the department,” an email from department Director Terry Schmidtbauer stated.

Schmidtbauer said in an interview that the property owners who are not rebuilding — at least for now — have not necessarily told the county their reasons.

“They don’t necessarily tell us that, but I don’t think the timing of that was so good,” Schmidtbauer said.

He said the rebuilding stage came just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He also noted supply chain issues, the cost of materials skyrocketed and now there are inflation issues with which to deal.

Schmidtbauer said there are also those property owners who opted not to rebuild and are looking to sell the land.

Those who are rebuilding have tended to go bigger, with an average size of the new home being 2,441 square feet. The county did reduce the permit cost by 30 percent, though property owners must pay the high rates for square footage above the prior home size, the county reported.

There are still four properties the county is working on for cleanup, properties owned by individuals who did not go through the state program, nor engaged with a certified contractor for the work.

The county is working through the appropriate channels to get permission to go onto the property and to assess what cleanup, if any, is necessary.

The county also expects to come back by the end of the year on the proposed Pleasants Valley Specific Plan, which is expected to benefit the smaller boutique-styled agriculture operations in the area.

“We’ve got the data . . . but we have put a hold on that. But our intention is to get back to that and address the (code and related) standards and things like that,” Schmidtbauer said.

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