The San Benito County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted March 14 to waive permit fees up to $75,000 for reconstruction work to assist North County residents affected by the winter storms. The fees include building permits, public works, environmental health, and other charges.
The money would be made available through a budget adjustment transfer or “backfill” from the county’s General Fund Emergency Reserves.
“We did discuss the potential of addressing or waiving permit fees for those property owners that were directly impacted,” said County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa in reference to the board’s Feb. 21-22 retreat.
This will impact approximately 50 homeowners affected by the flooding who might need various county permits to rebuild their residences.
According to the county’s master fee schedule, the minimum permit fee is $172 and can be as much as $507.
Supervisor Bea Gonzalez said she hoped that $75,000 would be enough.
“This is going to individuals who have lost everything, and it’s desperately needed,” she said. “There are many people concerned about how they’re going to rebuild.”
Gonzalez added that because of more recent storms she hoped the approval would not be limited only to those affected by the December and January storms. Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki agreed that those affected by March storms should be included. Supervisor Angela Curro made the motion to not only approve the $75,000 for December and January but to extend it into March.
No property owners commented at the meeting.
At its retreat last month, the board approved $500,000 to purchase 11 RV trailers and food for 15 displaced Lovers Lane residents. The families would have the trailers for about six months at the Migrant Center in Hollister.
The county also requested individual assistance for residents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but was denied.
The county opted to not appeal that decision.
County Counsel Barbara Thompson said, “Technically we would have until March 26 to appeal, but they [FEMA] did send a letter last night that said due to time constraints they wanted an answer by today about whether the county would appeal.”
Gonzalez asked if the denial was for the January storms only, or would subsequent storms be considered separately. Office of Emergency Services (OES) manager Kris Mangano said each new storm beginning March 10 and going forward would be considered separate incidents and OES would request individual assistance.
Mangano told the board the county had until 10 a.m. on March 14 to appeal to FEMA’s denial of the county’s request for individual assistance for the January storms. She said OES staff used the media, emails, and went door to door to try to determine the needs of residents in order to apply for individual assistance for January.
“We did not get any responses,” she said. “Since we have no ground to really stand on for an appeal it is the recommendation of OES that we don’t [appeal] unless there is a direction from the board to do otherwise.”
Related BenitoLink Stories:
County evacuates RV Park because of flooding | BenitoLink
Neighbors helping neighbors along Lovers Lane | BenitoLink
Flood victims share stories, ask San Benito County agencies for help | BenitoLink
San Benito County farmer struggles after flooding | BenitoLink
Veterans and community step up to help Hollister evacuees | BenitoLink
Residents and pets rescued along Lovers Lane | BenitoLink
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