Build Malibu Better: Time’s Up! It’s Time To Make Some Decisions

Paul Grisanti

At the city council meeting on Monday the 14th, we learned that only 300 of the 460 homes that burned within city limits had signed up with either the CalRecycle program or opted out and filed the necessary paperwork to have a private contractor do the work. I don’t have any numbers relative to those of you who live in 90265 but outside the city limits. The CalRecycle program signup period will end on Monday, Jan. 28. 

I’ve been advising my friends and clients to go ahead and sign up with CalRecycle. The advantages are:

1. Your cost of cleanup is capped at the lesser of the actual cost, or your insurance policy’s coverage for debris removal.

2. CalRecycle takes on the responsibility and associated costs of testing the debris for hazardous materials, finding an appropriate landfill to accept whatever materials exist, monitoring the air during the removal and transportation process, paying the transportation and hazmat dump fees, and testing and certifying that the lot is clean and ready to build.

3. They are projecting that all the debris will be gone by the end of April, which is about the date that the first rebuild permits for homes no larger than 110 percent of the prior home will start to be issued, so you can start working right away.

The only possible disadvantage is that CalRecylcle assumes your foundation is weakened by fire and removes it. If you had an older slab foundation or a perimeter foundation, they are probably right. If your foundation was a pile and grade beam foundation, it is not so clear-cut. To reuse your foundation, you will have to find and hire a licensed engineer to test and certify that the concrete can still meet the current seismic standards and do it all before the Jan. 28 cutoff. That’s a tough standard to meet, unless your contractor is already working toward that goal.

If you decide to “opt out” and remove your debris, you are responsible for the costs of permits, removal, monitoring, testing, certification, trucking and dumping with no limits on costs—not a bet I would make!

The deadline to register with FEMA has been extended to Jan. 31, 2019. If you have great insurance, FEMA will probably not be that helpful, but it is still worth registering to preserve your options for grants from FEMA, State of California and SBA loans. Lastly, I’m hoping some of you will join me at the city’s town hall meeting with LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby on Saturday, Jan. 26, in the council chambers at City Hall. From 3 to 5 p.m., Chief Osby will “provide insight into the fire response operations and answer questions from the community.”