Strategic Recovery Plan Approved
On June 5, Matt Pontes, assistant County CEO, presented the SB Board of Supervisors with a draft of the Strategic Recovery Plan, which outlines the County’s approach to ongoing recovery efforts following the Thomas Fire and January 9 debris flow. “We’re all after building a resilient Montecito,” said Pontes, who has taken the role of director of recovery following the disaster.
According to Pontes, the County’s immediate goal is to help the community move forward by bringing together collective resources at the local, state, and federal level. Several County reps spoke at the hearing, which was a similar presentation given at the Community Informational Meeting at Cold Spring School back in May.
The Strategic Plan includes eight key areas. The first, Storm Preparation and Evacuation: the County is updating the debris flow risk map, the 72-hour evacuation timeline, and modifying rain flow thresholds this coming winter. “We are committed to only evacuating when it’s necessary and where it’s necessary,” said Office of Emergency Management director Rob Lewin.
The second key area is Long-term Flood Control Mitigation; Tom Fayram and Flood Control are working on long-term projects and grant opportunities, including three projects on our local debris basins. The third key area is Private Property Rebuilding; county staff reports that resurveying properties is expected to be finished in July, and the like-for-like approval process will help streamline the rebuilding process for affected residents.
Financial Impacts & Economic Recovery is another key area in the strategic plan: the total cost to the County thus far is $55 million, and that includes the cost of damage to County infrastructure including roads, bridges, channels, and basins, and emergency protective measures including search and rescue, sheltering, and debris removal. The County is attempting to recoup the cost from FEMA, as well as support recovery from economic loss to the business community, and develop a long-term funding source for maintenance and new projects. Lost revenue from TOT tax and property taxes is estimated to be $2.9 million this year, and $3.6 million in the next fiscal year.
Other key areas include Removal of Debris on Private Property, Infrastructure Repair and Modifications, Natural and Cultural Resources, and Community Engagement. Ben Romo, Community Recovery & Engagement coordinator, reported that the Montecito Center on Coast Village Circle will remain open for the time being to facilitate community engagement and aid in the recovery process; communications during emergencies was also discussed.
The board unanimously approved the draft plan, which will ultimately assist the County in receiving necessary grants from various entities.
For more information and to view the plan, visit www.countyofsb.org.