Debris removal in Sonoma County is unfolding in two stages: Phase I – Household Hazardous Waste Removal; and Phase II: Debris and Ash Removal. Local officials anticipate completing both phases by early 2018. Find more information about both phases, as well as erosion and watershed protection tips, below.

Phase I: Household Hazardous Waste Removal

California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an Executive Order authorizing the federal EPA and other federal and state agencies to enter private properties in Sonoma County to test for and remove household hazardous waste. Household hazard waste includes leftover household products that can catch fire, react or explode, or that are corrosive or toxic. Products like paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, herbicides and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special handling and disposal.

This testing and removal is required for all residential properties in Sonoma County. It will be provided free of charge.

Phase II: Debris and Ash Removal

Ash and fire debris contain hazardous materials, including asbestos, heavy metals, by-products of plastic combustion, and various other chemicals. These chemicals can endanger you if you handle them. They can also become airborne if transported, endangering the general public.

Because of the risks, it is illegal to dispose of ash and debris on public or private lands. Ash and debris also cannot be taken to the dump.

The deadline to participate in the free debris removal program conducted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has passed. Homeowners whose residences burned down and who wish to remove burnt debris, foundations, hazardous trees, and soil from their properties must utilize private services at their own cost.

Private Debris and Ash Removal

Citizens of Santa Rosa must submit a Santa Rosa Fire Clean-Up Application and Work Plan to the Permits Counter, Planning & Economic Development Department, 100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Room 3, Santa Rosa which demonstrates that the property owner’s clean up and removal plan complies with applicable city and state standards. The application requires documentation of extensive site and soil testing. If you want to keep your foundation, your application must demonstrate that it is safe to reuse your foundation.

Private debris removal forms will be available for County of Sonoma Residents soon.
Property owners cannot rebuild on their property until there is a certification that the cleanup and removal of all waste, debris, and ash has been completed in accordance with applicable standards and approved by local officials.

Those privately completing debris removal must do so in a timely manner. Due to public health dangers, those who do not complete adequate clean up in the City of Santa Rosa will have their property inspected by the City, and be subject to potential remedial action that may include hazard removal and/or relocation, clean up, site evaluation, soil testing, and/or chemical analysis. The City will seek to recover all expenses from the property owner with a lien recorded on the property.

Questions About Debris Removal?

Contact the Debris Removal Right-of-Entry Processing Center

By phone: 1-707-565-6700
In person: 625 5th Street, Santa Rosa

More information is available at

Erosion and Watershed Protection Tips

  1. Establish new vegetative cover on all bare or disturbed soil and slopes as soon as possible to prevent erosion from falling rain and storm water runoff. Native grasses and other plants are recommended—seeding will likely take too long to grow.
  2. Once rainy season starts, do not disturb soil and slopes: they will be unstable and more susceptible to erosion if plant cover is removed while the soil is saturated.
  3. Prune or remove highly fire damaged trees capable of falling on to dwellings or roads as soon as possible. Do not remove healthy or slightly damaged trees unnecessarily—their root systems hold soil and reduce winter runoff.
  4. Divert water runoff with drain outlets and basins that break up water flow with rock and other ground cover to dilute the runoff’s force.
  5. Sandbags should generally only be used as an emergency/temporary measure. If improperly placed, they may do more harm than good.

Sonoma County will also be coordinating with other local government and organizations to provide assistance and advice to landowners regarding erosion prevention.

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