A local collaboration between Santa Barbara County and the American Institute of Architects in Santa Barbara (AIASB) will offer free guidance for how to begin the rebuilding process to owners of properties damaged or destroyed in recent disasters.

Two local architectural firms and private philanthropists have made donations to cover the cost of experienced land-use planners and/or architects who will provide property owners with free informal advice/technical assistance.

Technical assistance consultants will be at the Montecito Center for Preparedness, Recovery and Rebuilding beginning Monday, April 2. The center is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday; 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

The center is at 1283 Coast Village Circle and can be reached by phone at 845-7887.

“Property owners impacted by recent disasters may face highly complex challenges in considering their strategies for rebuilding,” said Keith Rivera, president of the AIASB Board of Directors.

“Our goal is to help property owners think through some of the major issues in the beginning stages of rebuilding so they and others in the community can move forward in the process of healing and recovery,” he said.

In recent months, AIASB members have been cataloguing the original plans from local archives for all properties that experienced damage in the Thomas Fire and Jan. 9 debris flow.

The technical assistance consultants will have access to the plans that have been located.

“Many property owners have come to the Montecito Center with questions about rebuilding,” said Ben Romo, community recovery and engagement coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.

“Some owners have all they need in planning and beginning their rebuild; others don’t know where to start. These are challenging situations and can be very complex, all at a time when people are also dealing with trauma and profound loss.

“We are so thankful that this partnership will provide property owners with additional support.”

Two local architectural firms, Harrison Design and The Cearnal Collective, LLP, have contributed toward the effort by paying their staff to serve at the Montecito Center as technical consultants.

An anonymous donor through the United Way of Santa Barbara County has helped cover two additional shifts. Volunteer architects from the AIASB will cover evening and weekend shifts.

— Santa Barbara County Joint Information Center.