APOLOGIES — THE FIRST EMAIL ESCAPED BEFORE THE FINAL DRAFT WAS COMPLETE. Changes/Additions are highlighted in BLUE.  -KH


EVERY HOMEOWNER IN DEERHORN VALLEY SHOULD APPLY FOR THESE GRANTS. WE ARE IN THE HIGHEST FIRE DANGER ZONE NOW THAT THE POWERLINK IS UP. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE UPFRONT FUNDS, STATE THAT IN “WORK DETAILS” AND ASK IF THERE ARE VOUCHERS AVAILABLE.

It may be too late for this year’s Grants, but get it on-record that lack of funds made it impossible for you to take advantage of the program.

The Mitigation Fund was designed to assist the 1,400 “Highest-Risk” Homes along the Powerlink.  That includes nearly ALL of Deerhorn Valley.  MAP LINK:

____________________________________________

After Tuesday’s Meeting…
After some digging on the internet…

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Close to 200 persons attended the presentation on the POWERLINK FIRE MITIGATION GRANTS Tuesday night.  It was quite a turnout, and we greatly appreciated your patience as we struggled to provide enough chairs and open up additional parking on the adjacent field.
Representing the Fire Mitigation Group that is administered by SDG&E was a representative from Environmental Resource Solutions, Ms. Bonnie Burchill.  Unfortunately, the prepared presentation took up the majority of time, leaving insufficient time for questions.  Next year we will make sure that the questions get repeated [so the audience can hear them], and that the most critical questions are presented first.
Call the Powerlink Grants Office with your specific issues and concerns: (619.722.7512)
Here are several new pieces of information we have learned that critical to Deerhorn Valley Residents:
1.  FIRE SURVIVORS WHO LOST THEIR HOME IN 2007 ARE NOW “ELIGIBLE” FOR GRANTS 
This was clearly stated at the meeting. Originally residents were told by phone that all parcels lacking a “habitable structure” in 2008 were excluded and this was “hardwired” [not negotiable]. This made Harris Fire victims virtually INELIGIBLE, as County-wide only 4% of destroyed homes were rebuilt by the end of 2008.
Fire Victims: Your parcels still appear to be marked “INELIGIBLE.”  Make sure your application has the same top priority as others from Deerhorn Valley.  I suggest you contact the Powerlink Office and ask how best to make sure you are included in the highest-priority group. According to the presenter, there is NO APPEAL PROCESS, so it is critical that you are properly identified as “ELIGIBLE.”  

Deerhorn Valley Residents:  Your Fire Risk is ranked as the HIGHEST POSSIBLE.  This is one of the first questions asked.  Here is the Powerlink High-Risk Residential Assets Map:



2. ELIGIBILITY MAP ERRORS & OMISSIONS:  Ms. Burchill acknowledged that there are significant errors and omissions on the Eligibility Map.  If your parcel is surrounded by eligible ones, but you received no notification or are labeled “Ineligible,” call the Powerlink Office (619.722.7512) and make sure your application will be given the same “First Round” priority as others.  [Perhaps you can add a statement at the beginning of your application to the effect: “My parcel was omitted by error, but it is located in Deerhorn Valley, a highest-priority area, and surrounded by eligible parcels.”  Ms. Burchill stated that there would be [at least] two rounds of review– with “eligible parcels” given top priority, AND there is no appeal process.  
QUESTION: How do grant applicants who are still labeled on the map as “Ineligible”  make sure their application is properly reviewed with highest-priority?

3.  6,000-PLUS NOTICES OF ELIGIBILITY WERE SENT OUT.  Ms. Burchill indicated that “6,000-plus” letters and brochures were sent to “eligible parcels.” In the proposal SDG&E only identified 1,409 homes at “highest risk” and stated that Mitigation Grants were designed to“…ensure defensible space and fire-safe structural improvements to those [1,409] homes at highest risk… The amount of the fund was based on $2,000 for each highest-risk parcel ($2,818,000).
QUESTION: In addition to omitting so many “HIghest Risk Parcels” from their Eligibility Map, why (and to whom) were so many properties sent application information?  If every parcel receives funding, that comes out to about $300 each.  If only the highest-risk parcels were made eligible, the funding would come to about $2000 each.
4. THE OPTIONS FOR DISTRIBUTING GRANT FUNDS INCLUDE REIMBURSEMENT OR ISSUING A VOUCHER:  In the Mitigation Utilization Plan SDG&E listed two options getting the funds to homeowners:  Apparently vouchers were not made an option this year.  As a result, MANY parcels in Deerhorn Valley will be left out of the process because homeowners are not able to pay the costs out-of-pocket and then wait for reimbursement.  Call the Powerlink Office to see if vouchers ARE available this year.  They need to know that this requirement means MANY eligible properties at the highest-risk will not be able to participate.
*SOURCE: Sunrise Powerlink Fire Mitigation Group – Proposal for Utilization of Sunrise Fire Mitigation Funds
________________________________
BOTTOM LINE:

Although it may be too late to have any real impact on how these grants are awarded this year, hopefully next year the program will be better thought out, offered in a timely fashion, AND directed to those parcels identified at highest risk (Nearly all of Deerhorn Valley… link to map is below).
Let’s all hope we get through the 2012 Fire Season without a major event.
It looks to be a pretty dicey one already.
I will also be sending these observations and questions to the Powerlink Information email and the various agencies of the SD Powerlink Fire Mitigation Group (SDPFMG).  I have had several phone calls saying that they have not returned calls or emails.  
There are several people in the community who have volunteered to help you file online.  Give me a call if you need help OR if you can help someone else go through the procedure.  If you are not familiar with online forms, or don’t have a newer computer/browser it can be confusing.  My email and phone are below.
EVERY ELIGIBLE PARCEL IN DEERHORN SHOULD BE APPLYING.  WE ARE IN THE HIGHEST FIRE DANGER ZONE NOW THAT THE POWERLINK IS UP.
-Kim Hamilton, Editor
Antler Alerts and Updates
468-3218 (please leave message & #)
________________________________
MORE INFORMATION (DOCUMENTS) FOR THOSE INTERESTED
(The links for these CPUC documents are long and obscure… let me know if you have any problems accessing them):
MITIGATION UTILIZATION PLAN (5 pages) Outlines the Grant Program that SDG&E Proposed:
“Damage or loss of the 1,409 homes at highest risk in the event of a wildfire resulting from the Sunrise Powerlink project will therefore be partially mitigated by implementation of Mitigation Measure F-1e, the Defensible Space Grants Fund,which will ensure defensible space and fire-safe structural improvements to those homes at highest risk, although not to less than significant. This results in a Fund value of nearly $3 million per year for the life of the project, which would ensure grants for defensible space and physical structure improvements to even more homes than what was required for the FESSR [Final Environmentally Superior Southern Route].”