Rebuilding Sonoma County: Coffey Park a model for local rebuilding efforts
In Sonoma County, Coffey Park has become ground zero for home reconstruction this summer.
Workers this month are rebuilding a quarter of the nearly 1,300 single-family homes that burned in the northwest Santa Rosa neighborhood during the October wildfires. The building activity there far surpasses what’s underway in any other area of the county, whether for fire recovery or for new housing subdivisions.
And crews are expected to start more homes in Coffey Park in the coming weeks. It has taken almost 10 months, but fire survivors have applied to rebuild nearly half the houses lost in the neighborhood.
“We are ahead, definitely,” said Jeff Okrepkie, chairman of the Coffey Strong neighborhood group.
Nonetheless, Okrepkie noted that only 14 months remain before most fire survivors reach a key deadline — the end of insurance rental payments for temporary housing. When those payments stop after October 2019, many who haven’t rebuilt their homes could end up paying both rent and a mortgage.
“There needs to be a significant amount of movement in the next three to six months,” Okrepkie said.
Coffey Park has 325 single-family homes under construction, according to Santa Rosa records. Crews there already have completed seven houses, including the Kerry Lane home of Dan Bradford, the first resident to move back to the neighborhood at the end of May.
By last week, Coffey Park homeowners had applied to rebuild 592 homes. That amounts to roughly 45 percent of the homes lost there, and represents more than 40 percent of all the permits sought to replace the roughly 5,300 residential units lost in the fires throughout the county.
Coffey Park is humming with activity as construction crews from different contractors work next door to each other. The companies that are building multiple homes often find their projects separated by several blocks.
“It looks like the most unorganized subdivision I’ve ever built,” said Aaron Matz, president of APM Homes of Santa Rosa.
The amount of work has markedly increased this summer, with slightly more than 100 homes started in the past month.
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @rdigit.