I spent the day in Santa Cruz, yesterday. I had several errands to run, most of which were uninteresting, but one which turned out to be fascinating. Since I had to be in the area for a medical appointment, I thought that I’d drop by the arena, where a bunch of county departments and some disaster relief organizations have set up tables to be available to help folks affected by the fires. I hadn’t been by before, since we evacuated to our moms’ place and we weren’t in desperate need of anything. We have resources, and we wanted to let other folks with smaller margins get the help they needed. That visit to the arena has given me a lot to think about.
For starters, how about this: we have a builder already lined up, and he’s raring to go. He wants to get debris removed, a site survey done, and permits applied for so that when the rains stop and it’s time to start construction, he can get right to work. This is awesome! But we can’t start debris removal until the site has been cleared of hazardous materials. This makes sense — we don’t want to be dumping hazmat into the regular landfill. So who’s doing the hazmat clearing? The federal (not state) EPA. When will they do this? Well, they’re showing up this week, and they reckon they should have the whole county done in six to eight weeks. (Just in time for the rainy season to start.) Okay, but do I apply for my debris removal permit now? No, one must wait until the site has been cleared by the hazmat team before one may apply for a permit. Okay, how will I know that my site has been cleared? After all, it could be the first site cleared, or the last — do you want me to just keep asking you guys every day? Um.
And this is where signaling comes in. We know that the USEPA is going to be doing the hazardous debris removal, so they are the ones who will send some sort of signal that a property has been done, but we don’t know what that signal is, nor how we should be checking for it. Other than that they’ll post some kind of notice at the property to say that they’re done with it. One hopes that there will be a less onerous status check than driving 3 hours round trip every day to go look for a piece of paper.