Dear Bruce McPherson,
I write to you today as a member of the community in which you are supervisor. I lost my home to the CZU August fire on 8/20/2020 in Boulder Creek in the Fallen Leaf neighborhood. It has been an absolutely devastating event to say the least, not only to my family of seven but our entire neighborhood and the community beyond. As I have made my way through the ups and downs what has really lifted me up is how much support and kindness my family has received from the people in our community. The San Lorenzo Valley is such a special place full of wonderful and caring people. We really can’t imagine living anywhere else.
While we have the support of our community, I would like to formally ask for help from the county not only for myself but for other victims of this fire.
We received word that Monterey County is waiving all permitting fees for the victims of their recent fires. Not a reduction. But forgiveness. I would ask Santa Cruz County to do the same. Families have literally lost everything and are desperate to rebuild, reclaim their lives, and return to their land. Most, if not all of us, are underinsured. So, while I appreciate the gesture of a fee reduction, forgiving all fees is what is really going to make a difference in our lives and determine whether or not many of us can rebuild.
I watched the Supervisors’ meeting a few weeks ago where the budget was outlined. After a lengthy portion of time was given to acknowledging and praising the fiscal conservation of money for the county, it then was discussed how much COVID had impacted revenue for the county, and that the county was basically waiting for burn zone permit money to come in and make up the difference.
As someone who lost her home, I cannot tell you how incredibly hurt I was to hear that. It felt as though the county was banking on our heartbreak. I am sure that wasn’t the intention, but that is how it was received.
Two days after my home burned to the ground, I started a Facebook support group for people who have lost their homes and who wish to support us in rebuilding. Today amongst the 1.3K members there was a lot of conversation happening about fees. Not only do victims want a complete waiving of fees, but so do our community members who have not lost their homes. We are all in this together. And we agree: this is not the time for the county to be making a profit. We would hope the county would want to work for us during these horrible times, rather than against us.
In addition, it seems redundant to require us in the same ways as if this was a new build. My home isn’t on a plot of land that is remote, where the county needs to verify the land, rather this is land where a house once stood…and is no longer there.
I sincerely hope that you understand how much your district needs you to advocate for us. Every single day I see how scared people are about dealing with the county with rebuilding, and all the costs related to that task. Every single day I see families trying to piece it all together so they can rebuild. Meaningful support from the county would go a long way for the working families in our valley. I realize I am but one voice. But I can assure you there are many others..and their requests are coming.
I look forward to your kind reply.
Antonia Bradford, Fallen Leaf Neighborhood, Boulder Creek