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24850 Birch Street, Willits, CA 95490

July 31, 2001

The Board of Directors of Brooktrails Township Community Services District met in special session on July 31, 2001 at 7:04 p.m. in Brooktrails Community Center.



Roll call showed the following Directors present: Whitney and Estabrook. General Manager Chapman was also present.

Although there was no quorum, a public hearing was held to hear protests concerning the hazard abatement notices. President Estabrook explained that the recommendations developed by Director Whitney and himself would be considered as an action agenda item at a special meeting scheduled for August 7, 2001.



General Manager Chapman outlined the letter which was sent to all owners of property in Brooktrails on April 30th, noting the Phase I and Phase II vegetation management standards. He stressed the importance of educating all property owners about fire safety, and noted the increased compliance this year over past years.

He explained that, because of the lack of a quorum, the Board would meet on August 7th to declare any lots out of compliance as a public nuisance. A public hearing would be held on August 28th, after which time the Board would order abatement of those lots not yet complete. Any lots abated by District hired contractors would be charged a $200 administrative fee, on top of the cost of the contractor, which would be placed as a lien on the property.

He pointed out that the hazard abatement standards in use had not changed over the last ten years. Because of limited staff available at the fire department assistance was received from CDF, and some people were written up for Phase II violations, as the District does not have the resources to reinspect the same property later in the year.

Director of Emergency Services, Daryl Schoeppner, explained that the Board had instructed staff to clear all of the "flash fuel" or grass lots in the District, as opposed to just the vacant lots next to structures. He pointed out the high fire danger this year, outlined the types of violations that were written up, and explained that an additional 28 days had been allowed to complete the work. He also described the process for property owners to follow in order to have property signed off.

Director Whitney commented that the District is trying to make the process more structured by developing the two-phase program, and provided a brief explanation of the process. He noted a substantial improvement over the years in compliance.

President Estabrook stressed that he would recommend to the full Board on August 7th, that property owners receive an extension to comply with any Phase II work indicated on the notices.

In response to Jack Bothwell's inquiry, General Manager Chapman reviewed the Phase I and Phase II standards using the overhead projector.

President Estabrook opened the public hearing at 7:33 p.m.

Ginevra Chandler came forward, stating that she was appearing on behalf of the Deerwood Corporation. She delivered a letter to the General Manager which she stated would serve as their formal protest, and outlined the reasons for her protest. She claimed that notices were not issued properly, according to the Health and Safety Code.

She stressed that the Deerwood Corporation does not have a problem with fire abatement, however, they perceive a problem with the process in the case of vacant lots with absentee owners. Of the seven notices that Deerwood received, not one of them were for properties owned by Deerwood. She claimed that the properties owned by Deerwood had not received the April 30th letter, or any type of notice. She explained that there are a number of properties that Deerwood has an interest in which are in the same situation, as some of the owners live a long way away. She felt that to expect them to deal with an abatement issue in fifteen days was not reasonable. She suggested that the District find a better way to determine who is the owner of the property, as it seemed that the County Assessor's office was not providing the District with the current information. She noted that the nuisance laws in the state of California are very clear that there must be a reasonable notice and the opportunity to concur it before you can send a notice of nuisance to a property owner, and claimed that the seven notices received by Deerwood were not proper because they did not go to the property owner.

She reported that to date, Deerwood has cleared approximately 34 lots which they have an interest in, and would like the opportunity to clear an additional 30 to 60 which they should be able to complete prior to August 28th. She asked that the Board come to an agreement with the Deerwood Corporation, who has their own crew, that they may continue to clear the lots and avoid the $200 fee. She suggested that a procedure be developed that would allow the period to be extended as opposed to charging a fee, as long as it is clear that the company is going to do the work.

She noted that under the government code there is a requirement to provide public record showing what the basis is that causes the expense that sets the fee at $200, and what the revenue source would be, stating that she could not find that information in the minutes of the Board meetings between January and July. She stated that Deerwood would protest paying the fee on that basis, and on because they do not believe that it bears a reasonable relationship to the service that it is meant to provide.

The other issue raised was that April 30th letter stated the standard for cutting grass at 3" in length, however the ordinance states a 6" limit for grass. She stated her opinion that 3" is not a reasonable length to impose on people simply for purposes of abatement.

She asked for a meeting with staff to discuss some sort of procedure for Deerwood, as they probably have more lots than other individuals, not only for this season but for other seasons, so that the "lack of informed notice" doesn't reoccur.

President Estabrook stated his belief that the Board could be somewhat flexible with that August 28th date.

Ms. Chandler suggested the Fire Department implement a mutual clearance agreement between property owners, so that people who own homes next to vacant lots can clear a perimeter around their homes.

Darrel Schoeppner, Director of Emergency Services, noted that he is not a forester or an arborist, and that he looks to CDF for the standards used. He reported on a grant received with their assistance to manage the Greenbelt.

Tom Porter, with the Deerwood Corporation, commented on the difficulty absentee owners have in obtaining contractors.

One audience member, who did not give his name, suggested that the entire area on Madrone Drive and Madrone Way be mowed by a joint property owner shared expense.

President Estabrook closed the public hearing at 8:24 p.m.

President Estabrook then invited audience members to make suggestions for improvement to the program for the next year. Tom Porter objected to the ten foot spacing for trees as a standard. President Estabrook agreed, stating that it should be scheduled for a future agenda item. John Borgna and Bob Thompson also objected to the ten foot standard. Ms. Chandler suggested a longer notice period so that people living out of the area have time to comply. She also suggested the District get more accurate ownership information from Deerwood.


Jack Bothwell came forward to voice concern about the delay in opening the Brooktrails Lodge. He urged the Board to come to a conclusion.

General Manager Chapman summarized the issues faced by the Board, and reported that Dr. Gitlin would attend the meeting of August 7th.


President Estabrook declared the meeting of July 31, 2001 closed at 8:45 p.m.

Received and Noted by:


Secretary to the Board of Directors

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