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Lauren Coughlin, Editor
8:29 am PST February 5, 2019

With a mere hour and a half remaining to submit applications for fire debris removal in Los Angeles County, residents were given a reprieve on the Thursday, Jan. 31 deadline.

Now, property owners have until Feb. 15 to make up their minds.

The latest data the City of Malibu had available the morning of Thursday, Jan. 31, indicated that roughly 200 residents of Malibu had not yet taken action in regard to the fire debris removal program.

The data, from Monday, Jan. 28, indicate that 237 Malibu residents submitted right of entry forms to participate in the government-sponsored program offered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, according to Craig George, environmental sustainability director for the City of Malibu. Another 46 residents had opted out as of Jan. 28, George said.

Those who wish to participate in the county’s free debris removal program must fill out a ROE form, which can be found online at lacounty.gov/lacountyrecovers or in person at the Debris Removal Operation Center in Calabasas (26610 Agoura Road). The DROC, at which opt-out forms and work plans also can be submitted, is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday.

Opt-out forms also can be submitted from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the County Building and Safety Field Office in Calabasas (26600 Agoura Road, Suite 110), or via email to woolseyfire@dpw.lacounty.gov.

An LA County representative also is to be at Malibu City Hall from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday to accept either form and answer residents’ questions.

George said staff at the City of Malibu has done “every possible thing [they] could think of” to try to reach those who have not yet applied, including reverse 9-1-1 calls, sending notices to people, social media blasts, website posts and advertisements in newspapers.

George said communication with the county has been good, and the City has had several meetings with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and CalRecycle. George said areas around Malibu schools will be prioritized during the debris removal process, but the latest data shows that not all in those areas have opted in, according to George.

“A lot of people have opted in, but not everybody, and that makes it challenging to get the areas around the schools cleared quickly,” he said. 

Household Hazardous Waste sweeps in Malibu were completed on Jan. 25, according to the City of Malibu, and contractors have now begun Phase II operations, starting with site assessments and asbestos surveys for property owners who have opted in to the program. 

Greg Renick, information officer at Cal OES, said 203 site assessments and 170 asbestos surveys had been completed in Los Angeles County as of Friday, Feb. 1, and 547 ROE forms had been submitted county-wide. Renick did not have details on how many of those assessments or surveys took place in Malibu in particular.

During assessments, four-member crews also are tipping chimneys, which are a hazard and also pose potential asbestos problems, Renick said. As of Friday, four such crews were active throughout the burn areas, and additional crews were to be activated on Monday, Feb. 4.

During site assessments, Renick explained, officials take photos, document property lines, locate septic tanks and identify any objects which could pose a hazard to crews or slow down their operations.

Properties found to have asbestos-containing materials will be scheduled for abatement by a subcontractor prior to debris removal. 

“They take care of that and try to set it up as soon as possible so they can move onto the physical removal of debris,” Renick said.

Those who opt in to the local debris removal program will be notified 24-48 hours prior to the start of debris removal operations on their property, according to Cal OES; residents are able to walk the property with crews before work begins and remain on site during the process.

Renick said there was not a daily goal as to how many properties are cleared per day, as the complexity of each property can vary, but the ultimate goal is to complete debris removal for all properties which have opted into the program by the end of May.

Those who have opted out of the county program have a March 15 deadline to complete debris removal.  

For more information, visit lacounty.gov/LACountyRecovers or call (626) 979-5370.