Alerts

35 weeks 2 days ago

During the Tubbs Fire, approximately 80% of our 234 managed acres were scorched, killing thousands of trees and shrubs, destroying irrigation and infrastructure, creating erosion issues, and introducing many new challenges.  To manage safety in a timely manner, the OSMA Board instituted an emergency special assessment of $960 for Year 2020.  The special assessment may be paid in one lump sum or spread over 12 months in $80 increments. Due to increasing costs and declining volunteer assistance, the OSMA has increased monthly dues by $5 to $72 per month.

  
For OSMA to continue to perform the work it has historically performed using volunteer assistance, professionals will have to step in to replace where the hundreds to thousands of hours of “free” help was supplanted by experienced, able-bodied volunteers.  Future dues increases can be mitigated if the OSMA can garner more hands-on volunteer help to manage and perform the operating functions of the OSMA.

 

This "Scorecard" may help provide information on why this money is needed.  Scorecard

 

FAQs:

 

Why $960?

The $960.00 assessment will generate $567,360, which should provide the OSMA with enough money for post-fire cleanup in the remaining 100-foot fuel breaks behind residential lots that have yet to be treated - a high priority. Those remaining fuel breaks requiring fire cleanup are in inaccessible areas and the cost to treat them will be more expensive than what has been completed to date. The assessment rounds to $80 per month. 

 

 

How will that money be used?

The OSMA Board, working with its consulting foresters, have identified 40 acres as a priority for fire cleanup with these funds. If there is money remaining, it will be used to treat the forest beyond the 100’ fuel breaks, which could aggregate another approximate 50 acres. At the Annual Meeting, the Board provided a handout called a “Scorecard” (link above) that highlighted some of the accomplishments, objectives and challenges. The Board has been able to clean up 73.7 acres from available funds, but estimates it has another other 90 acres to treat. 

The OSMA hopes to spend the $567,000 assessment within a year, but that could extend longer if acceptable pricing cannot be obtained from vendors. 

 

Why assess now and not two years ago?

The OSMA Board was faced with many unknowns: numbers and degree of long-term damage to the trees, vendor availability, and the cost to perform the desired fire cleanup. The Board decided to focus initial cleanup on critical safety/hazard issues and fuel breaks that were accessible to mechanical equipment to determine how much work could be accomplished with available funds before it enacted a special assessment. 

The damage to the forested wildlands is an evolving problem with regards to fire safety. Obtaining qualified tree or vegetation management companies to perform work in the rugged terrain of FGII in a safe and affordable manner is an ongoing challenge. Vendors are booked several months out and can be expensive if they have to quote difficult projects.

Incidentally, there is coverage available for special assessments under many insurance policies (it’s called loss assessment coverage). Property owners may want to check with their insurance agent to determine if they have that coverage. 

 

 

The monthly dues also increased.  Why?

The dues had not increased since 2016. Operating expenses continue to increase on an annual basis. The Board, per the Civil Code, has the ability to increase dues up to 20% without homeowner approval.  The Budget shows that about $3.00 of the dues will cover the contribution to the Reserve Fund in 2020.  

OSMA volunteers have been managing and working alongside vendors for years and performing many tasks to reduce vendor work and invoicing.  Most of the volunteer help has been associated with tasks that would otherwise have to be paid to professional vendors.  These volunteer contributions vary in saved costs anywhere from $55 to $300 per hour, whether it be field work or the administrative work that must be provided as part of OSMA’s operations (including OSMA’s Annual Report required by the City and its legal documents). 

Unfortunately, volunteer help was greatly diminished by the fire, and some volunteers who had helped OSMA for many years decided to reduce their time spent for personal reasons. 

Traditionally, volunteer duties have included managing and overseeing the work of all vendors and writing necessary contracts. In addition to vendor administration, the volunteers have worked with forestry consultants, civil engineers, surveyors, seismic engineers, landscapers, tree vendors, legal, etc. Administrative and hands-on tasks have significantly reduced vendor costs.  This is some of the work that the Board, as volunteers, performs.  Now, the Board also has to deal with the many new additional problems of encroachment from hundreds of contractors who damage Open Space property. 

If volunteers vanish and do not perform the tasks they have done historically, the OSMA will have to hire consultants/managers to perform all of the above tasks, which will significantly add to the costs of running the association.  The OSMA strongly encourages propertry owners to become active volunteers.  Everyone is “busy,” but the OSMA relies on able-bodied, interested property owners to become more involved to help solve the problems we face.  

 

 

Aren't there grants available for OSMA?

OSMA has received some funds from grants.  The Scorecard references the amount of money OSMA has received. 

Unfortunately, the OSMA is not a qualifying organization for grants from FEMA, along with many other grant opportunities. The grants for which we may qualify are highly competitive (hundreds of applicants competing) and extremely labor intensive to complete (from gathering information and bids for filling out the application to managing work and reporting data to the grantor through completion of the project, if awarded).  The volunteers necessary to tackle these tasks have not stepped forward.

 


3 weeks 6 days ago

 The Fountaingrove II Open Space Maintenance Association (OSMA) qualified Fountaingrove II (FGII) as a national recognized Firewise USA® Community in October 2009. Since that time, it has renewed its qualified status by holding eleven annual meetings. Over the years, many fire safety professionals have attended the meetings as speakers and panel members, discussing fire safety measures taken on Common Open Space by OSMA and providing education and encouragement about steps homeowners should take to live more safely in a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). See https://www.fountaingroveii.com/about-osma for a brief backgrounder of the OSMA and a link to its website and mission statement.


Because of restraints from COVID-19, the OSMA is renewing its 2020 Firewise USA® status by publishing this special fire safety newsletter to its residents. We hope you find this information informative and useful in hardening your home and landscape against a future wildfire. OSMA’s renewal of Firewise USA® will enable homeowners with USAA policies to continue to receive their 5% premium credit. See https://www.fountaingroveii.com/firewise-usa for a brief backgrounder on Firewise USA® and the link to its website.

What Homeowners Can Do About Fire Safety
Harden Your Home

  • Keep all vegetation and combustible material, including mulch, 5’ away from your house:

This is the "Ignition Free Zone" (IFZ)!  It's tough to rethink and redesign our landscapes to which we've grown accustomed and attached, but the fact is that embers love to land and grow in whatever is available next to your house. The five foot perimeter around the foundation of your home is the area where you want nothing that is combustible - no wood pile, no door mat, no plants, no mulch.  It's your most important defense area that will either help or hinder a fire when it blows embers towards your property.  A good resource for information is at: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Building/  or

https://www.firesafesonoma.org/wp-content/uploads/living_with_fire.pdf

 

  • Do not attach a wooden gate, fence, shed or any other combustible item to your house:

If your wood fence connects directly to your home and you have a gate made of wood, change that gate to a metal one.  Make sure you have 3-5’ of distance between the house and your wood fence. Do not give fire (even from a toppled barbecue next door) a chance to be drawn to your home using the wooden fence, gate or shed as a wick. NOTE:  On August 25, 2020, the Santa Rosa City Council approved staff recommendations to amend its Codes and adopt a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). This approval will enable the City to improve its chances of receiving fire prevention grants and enable it to adopt policies to enforce compliance with a 3’ to 5’ Ignition Free Zone (IFZ) for new homes or major remodels within a WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) of Santa Rosa.  The City will be posting the CWPP on its website, and you will be notified of where to access it.

 

  • Keep your roof, gutters, decks, and patios maintained so they are free of debris such as leaves, needles and other combustible material and debris.

 

  1. Deck:  Make sure it is built using ignition resistant or non-combustible materials, and research the right way to enclose and maintain the underside where embers can land.  
  2. Vents to crawl space and attic:  These are classic passageways for embers to enter your home.  Make sure yours have mesh that is no larger than 1/8” and meets the wildfire standards of Chapter 7A of the building code. There are three recommended vents included on the above web link of Fire Safe Marin.  
  3. Windows:  Install tempered glass windows to provide more resistance to breakage from heat.
  4. Exterior of House:  Replace any wood siding with fiber cement siding or stucco.  
  5. Eaves:  Enclose them with horizontal soffits as shown in the link to Fire Safe Marin.  
  6. Gutter Covers:  Install them to diminish the debris that collects in gutters.    
  7. Garage Door Openers:  Install one with a battery backup so escape is easy even when power is out.
  8. House address numbers should be 4” high and clearly visible from the street by the Fire Department. 

 

 

Create Defensible Space


The link at: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire has good examples on how to create defensible space, including:

 

  •  Landscape in a Firewise Manner:

Alleviate fire spreading from landscape plants by eliminating masses and creating islands. Give plants some breathing room!  Keep plants and their branches away from the roof, eaves and from under windows. Check to see if plants are green on the outside, but brown and twiggy on the inside. If so, prune out the dead stuff or replace the entire plant as appropriate. The link at http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/Firewise_Landscaping/ has some good ideas.

 

  • Weed Abate:

Keep your property free of flash fuels such as dry grasses and weeds. The City of Santa Rosa has a weed abatement ordinance that is reviewed annually by Santa Rosa Fire and renewed/approved annually by the City Council. The ordinance requires homeowners living in a WUI such as FGII to keep their weeds and grasses abated to 4” or less from the beginning of fire season to its end. This time frame usually starts in late May and extends through October or later, depending on when significant rains start.

 

  • Create required fire-safe zones for fire department employees 
    1. Clear plant growth and debris off driveways and sidewalks around your house
    2. Ensure fire hydrants on your property have a minimum 5 feet of vertical clearance  

 


Develop a Family Plan for Evacuation for Wildfires 

  1. GO Bags that are packed and ready for evacuations with necessary items
  2. See suggestions of some items to pack at https://srcity.org/3182/Preparedness-Tips
  3. Clearing area around the home so it can be accessed safely by fire-fighting personnel
  4. Turning off Gas lines if time permits
  5. Knowing where family/household members will meet after evacuation
  6. Ensuring family/household members are signed up for Soco Alerts and Nixle messaging.
  7. Be aware of Red Flag Warning Days and take steps to improve your safety on those days:  https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=27541

 

Become Educated on fire safety so you can act quickly and correctly when necessary. A cool head is crucial to the safety of your family/household members in an emergency, and time is of the essence. Good ideas can be found at: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Firewise-USA/Online-learning-opportunities/Online-courses
 
Another good planning resource is FireSafe Sonoma’s Ready, Set, Go! brochure which can be accessed at: https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/23630/FireSafe-Sonoma


What OSMA Has Done About Fire Safety


The OSMA manages about 234 acres of Open Space, of which 18 acres are fuel-reduced landscape parcels along streets and the remaining 216 acres are forested parcels. Over 50% of the forested land has been fuel-reduced and is weed-abated annually under a program which is monitored by its governing documents and Santa Rosa Fire. Most of OSMA’s dues money is spent on fuel reduction and its fuel reduction/safety work has been inspected and monitored by various fire agencies and fire hazard consultants who have praised the association for its efforts and diligence. While these comments about OSMA’s achievements and annual fuel reduction program are pleasing to hear, the dues money spent on fire safety is mitigated if FGII homeowners do not also maintain their own properties in a fire-safe manner, as it is the fuels closest to the home that are the most insidious.  

The OSMA’s most recent annual report can be accessed at: https://www.fountaingroveii.com/sites/default/files/upload/annual_report_year_2019_from_osma_to_santa_rosa_pedd_12.29.2019_final_.pdf
 

 

For the Safety of Your Family/Household
Be Prepared for the New Normal 
   

 
Calmatters.org states: “Fourteen of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago. Now each year could surpass the last, setting records for the size, destruction, cost, and loss of life. A state-commissioned report makes the harrowing projection that under current emissions trends, the average burn area in California will increase 77 percent by the end of the century.” 

In October 2017, the Fountaingrove neighborhoods experienced the Tubbs Firestorm and nearly 80% of its residences were destroyed within a very short period of time.  Then, in October 2019, FGII residents had to evacuate due to the Kincade Fire that burned to the borders of Fountaingrove.
 
The City of Santa Rosa received a FEMA Grant to prepare a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in 2020. Meetings were held with the residents of the City to gather input and provide not only a history of wildfires, but also warn that there are areas nearby the City that have large amounts of old vegetation that is a tinderbox because the areas have not burned in 85–100 years.  Information about the CWPP (recently approved by the City Council) and related topics can be accessed at: https://srcity.org/596/Wildland-Urban-Interface
 
With climate change, the danger of another fire menacing our neighborhood grows every year.  It is taking a foolish risk to ignore or flout the lessons from the recent 2017 and 2019 - and even this year's - local wildfires.  
 
Since fire danger is real and will recur in the near term, be ready and be prepared to take safe and immediate action when necessary. Get educated NOW and implement steps to lessen the dangers to your family/household and the community at large.  

 

PG&E Outages – Be Prepared

  1. Necessary for medical needs 
  2. Cost feasible to install for key items such as refrigerators
  3. A justifiable convenience and standard of living choice for most or all of the residence

Note: FGII did not incur any outages during 2019, but there are no assurances of what will be the actions taken by PG&E in the future. 

 

49 weeks 4 days ago

Policing the open space is not a favorite activity of the OSMA, so please watch your property boundaries, manage your workers and respect the native property that all owners within Fountaingrove II pay to maintain and preserve.  Clean up debris, keep vehicles and other equipment or materials off - and do not add rocks, boulders, dirt, etc. to the open space.  If you see someone violating the open space in any way, please contact OSMA's property manager at Focus Real Estate & Investments at 544-9443.

6 weeks 2 days ago

IFZ stands for "Ignition Free Zone."  The ignition free zone is the five foot perimeter around the foundation of your home.  It's the area where you want nothing - no wood pile, no door mat, no plants, no mulch, no fencing - that is combustible.  It's your most important defense area that will either help or hinder a fire when it blows embers towards your property.  

Be smart and safe - clean up your property and pay attention to the IFZ!

Want more information?  See the graphic below and follow this link: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Pre...

 

 

 

 

From the National Fire Protection Association.  www.NFPA.org Home ignition zone