A roadmap for rebuilding in Montecito’s Jan. 9 debris flow areas gained county approval on March 13 when the Board of Supervisors approved a report on the debris flow recovery effort.

“We know many property owners are anxious to move forward with rebuilding,” said Matt Pontes, director of recovery for Santa Barbara County. “But the debris flow created unique challenges in Montecito that we are working aggressively to resolve.”

The new Guidance to Property Owners details two significant efforts underway by FEMA and the county and provides guidance to property owners about how and when the worst hit areas will be able to begin rebuilding.

Because the debris flow dislodged many survey markers and other landmarks, making it impossible to identify many property lines without professional surveys, the county will work with outside surveyors to reestablish survey markers along public rights-of-way.

In addition, creek channels and land elevations have changed throughout the debris flow area, which means existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps are no longer accurate.

County staff is working with FEMA on interim flood hazard/recovery mapping to assess where and how high water and debris is predicted to flow in the future.

The work highlighted above is expected to take a minimum of three months. Until it is completed, the county advises property owners to temporarily delay making significant expenditures on design plans so their decisions and permit applications can be informed by this work.

“We sympathize with property owners and understand how hard it is to wait at a time like this,” Pontes said. “The survey, engineering and mapping that we are doing throughout the debris flow area will significantly reduce the costs that individual homeowners would incur if they were taking on these tasks on their own.

“However, if property owners want to move ahead on their own, they can work with their case manager to find out what professional studies they would need,” he said.

In the meantime, the county has assigned case managers to each impacted property, and property owners are advised to contact their case manager, by calling 568-2090.

— Santa Barbara County Joint Information Center.