Still dealing with the far-reaching impacts from the 2017 wildfires, Sonoma County must continue to move forward, facing challenges head-on and collaboratively. The call for “a brighter future and bolder action” was the theme of the 2019 State of Sonoma County address, delivered by the Chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, David Rabbitt.
“The state of our county is strong,” said Rabbitt. “It’s strong because of the tenacity and perseverance of its residents – residents who are quite literally rising from the ashes to rebuild their homes and communities.”
Rabbitt said the 2017 wildfires provided a new way of doing business — differently and more efficiently — for the County.
He cited Permit Sonoma as one example of how the permitting process was streamlined to shorten wait times for permit issuance from months to weeks, and reduce fees by a third or more.
“The region is well on its road to recovery, and all credit goes to the goodwill of its people—friends, neighbors and strangers – who joined together to put others first above all else,” Rabbitt said.
The County took an unprecedented step of asking residents to help identify vacant or underused land that could accommodate housing. So far, 60 available land prospects have been submitted for review, potentially resulting in openings for an additional 2,000 housing units.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Jerry Nickelsburg, a Senior Economist at the UCLA Anderson Forecast, highlighted the importance of immediacy when tackling recovery.
“I looked at permits in the nine months before the Tubbs fire and the same nine months of last year, and there is a net increase of 1,765 permits. That is really moving fast,” said Nickelsburg. “If you look at recoveries from wildfires throughout the west, this is phenomenal.”
“When our County was faced with adversity, hardships and tough times, we did not throw up our hands in defeat,” Rabbitt said. “We came together, neighbor helped neighbor, stranger helped stranger and began the hard work of rebuilding hand-in-hand. That is strength – That is why we proudly say we are ‘Sonoma Strong!’”