PG&E Debris Removal Program: Cleaning up Victims' Properties or PG&E's Image?

Butte Fire victims are just now getting a letter from PG&E offering to clean up some of the woody debris left from the fire.  Sounds good, but is it really?  Here are some of the concerns: 

  • No details.  We’ve been asking PG&E since October to let us see the forms they want the residents to sign before getting the work done.  It still hasn’t shown us.  All we've seen is a “Notice of Work” form.  What’s the big secret?  Why can’t the victims’ attorneys see the documents PG&E wants the victims to sign?
  • Impossibly short opt-in deadline.  Property owners must opt-in by December 31.  That's too short a time frame for owners to obtain advice on what to do.  After all this time, if the offer is legit, what's the rush?
  • Ulterior Motive?  PG&E's form asks the owner to initial and agree to PG&E’s inventory of the number of the trees they remove, as well as the trees' size.  Why? Is PG&E trying to get victims to agree with their count of the dead trees, to use later against the property owners in lawsuits?
  • Double talk.  PG&E’s brochure states that a tree qualifies for removal if, for example, the tree "is reasonably accessible by equipment/machinery".  Does that mean  it will remove all tree debris of any size that is "reasonably accessible by equipment/machinery"? "Reasonable" to whom? And accessible to what type of equipment or machinery?
  • PG&E keeps the value:  PG&E wants to take the trees, but not pay for them.  Rather, PG&E says that the wood it will haul away is to be considered "donated."  PG&E is a billion dollar corporation.  Why does it need the fire victims to donate to it?

While PG&E's public relations team may be trying to boost its good will among the residents of Calveras and Butte County, it may also be trying to limit what it will have to pay property owners going forward.

 

PG&E Debris Removal letter

Where's the Haz Mat Clean Up Crew in Butte Fire Area?

 

According to CalRecycle waste management engineer Wes Minderman, although at least 32 crews are working in the clean up area, they have only completed about 28% of the properties(779 registered and 216 completed.) Some property owners are concerned about the status of hazardous material inspections and removal.  According to the Butte Fire Clean Up website debris removal was suspended on November 15th.  but Mr. Minderman explains that the suspension was temporary and resumed as soon as weather permitted. 

Currently the crews are focusing on the center of the fire area where management fears that they will lose access: Jesus Maria, Baker Riley, and Hawver areas.  Mr. Minderman and his staff are willing to answer any questions at 916-341-6320.  If you would like current information about your property and the hazmat debris removal, contact Natalie Lee the Butte Fire Debris Removal Planning Chief at 916-835-7478. 

PG&E Tree Inspection and Removal Continues

An Updated PG&E  Tree Removal  Plan for the Week of 12/14/15- 12/20/15.

ACRT, Inc. re-inspection continues in the following areas:

 


  • Jesus Maria Rd
  • Ponderosa Way
  • Worden Rd
  • Hwy 26
  • Whiskey Slide 
  • East Murray Creek
  • Railroad Flat Rd
  • Avenue A
  • Mountain Ranch Rd

Four new areas appear on the re-inspection list this week: 

  • Green Ranch Rd
  • Michel Rd
  • Old Gulch Rd
  • Lucky Jim Rd

 

Tree removal will take place in these areas:


Mokelumne Hill

  • Baker Riley Rd
  • Diamond Lane
  • Doster Rd
  • East Murray Creek
  • Electra Rd
  • Flat Gulch Rd
  • Hwy 26
  • Indian Gulch Rd
  • Jesus Maria Rd
  • Kerstan Lane
  • Lower Dorray Rd
  • Lower Gulch Rd
  • Music Gulley Rd
  • Old Gambetta Rd
  • Old Gambetta Trl
  • Old Greek Mine Rd
  • Ponderosa Wy
  • Sierra Oaks Lane

Mountain Ranch:

  • Avenue A
  • 3 Mile Ln
  • 44 Ranch Rd
  • Garabaldi St
  • Cilenti Ranch Rd
  • Doster Rd
  • East Murray CreeK
  • El Dorado Trl
  • Emigrant Ct
  • Francine Ct
  • Green Ranch Rd
  • Hwy 26
  • Loma Serena Rd
  • Murray Dale Ln
  • Nikki Trail
  • Old Emigrant Trail W
  • Pine Ridge Rd
  • Ponderosa Wy
  • Railroad Flat
  • RailRoad Flat Rd
  • Rodesino Rd
  • Salamander Gulch
  • Sierra Vista Way
  • Spring Lake Rd
  • Storey Rd
  • Struckman Rd
  • Swiss Ranch rd
  • Washington St
  • Wendell Rd
  • West Murray Creek
  • Whiskey Slide
  • Whiskey Slide Rd
  • Worden Rd
  • Mountain Ranch Rd

Sheep Ranch:

 

  • Eagleview Dr
  • Calaveras Rd
  • Eagleview Dr
  • Ham Luddy Rd
  • Lakeside Dr
  • Live Oak Lane
  • Oakridge Rd
  • Skyview Ct
  • Sugar pine Rd
  • Sun Rd
  • Sheep Ranch/Mountain Ranch
  • Hidden Valley Rd
  • Sheep Ranch Rd
  • Railroad Flat Rd


If your property is located in any of these areas and has power lines across it, be sure photographs have been taken of the area before trees are felled and removed.

 

 

 

 

PG&E Still Talking About "Free" Removal

Over 20 days ago, PG&E announced an "Updated Expanded Debris Removal Program".  Today, it continues to tout the program.  It has prepared a mailing to go out today for all of its affected customers.  PG&E set a December 31st deadline to opt in.  

To participate,  PG&E requires the property owner to submit a debris removal authorization form. But that form doesn't seem to exist.  It has not been shown to the attorneys and it is not part of the PG&E mailing. 

If you haven't heard, here are the details of the program:

Does your tree qualify for free removal?

According to PG&E it must meet one or more of the criteria below:
 
  • Wood greater than 4 inch in diameter and 6 feet in length
  • Within 100 feet of a structure or foundation
  • Within 20 feet of main roads, driveways and private roads
  • Where reasonably accessible by equipment/machinery
  • If logs are unstable along steep banks and may block a watercourse or roadway
 
Your options for removal, if your tree(s) qualify:
 
  • Move, cut up or pile wood and leave on your property
  • Chip and broadcast wood on site where accessible
  • Haul donated wood away offsite
If you qualify and you are represented by an attorney, you should contact your attorney about the program.
 
Time will tell whether this is anything more than another PG&E public relations campaign.
 

Butte Fire Litigation in the Hands of Calaveras Judge

Property owners asked the Judicial Council to coordinate the pre-trial handling of their cases.  In response, the Chief Justice recently asked Calaveras County Presiding Judge to handle the matter. The Calaveras County presiding judge, the Honorable Grant Barrett, will consider the request and make a recommendation to the Chief Justice on the most appropriate site for the Butte Fire coordinated proceeding. Will he keep it in Calaveras or send it to another County?  

 

PG&E's Updated Tree Cutting Schedule

On November 25, PG&E announced further tree cutting work.  From November 28-December 12, PG&E will send ACRT, Inc.to pre-inspect and repatrol these areas.

Mokelumne Hill:

Jesus Maria Rd
Ponderosa Way
Worden Rd
Hwy 26

Mountain Ranch:
Whiskey Slide

East Murray Creek

Avenue A
Mountain Ranch Rd
Railroad Flat Rd

Sheep Ranch:

Railroad Flat Rd

PG&E's tree cutting schedule from November 28- December 12 will include these areas.

Mokelumne Hill:

Jesus Maria Rd
Baker Riley Rd
Old Gambetta Rd
Doster Rd
East Murray Creek
Old Greek Mine Rd
Buttondown Lane
Rainbow Rd
Upper Dorray Rd.
Lower Dorray Rd
Electra Rd
Flat Gulch Rd
Lower Gulch Rd
Diamond Lane
Old Gambetta Trl
Ponderosa Wy
Hwy 26
Sierra Oaks Lane

Mountain Ranch:

RailRoad Flat Rd
El Dorado Trl
Sierra Vista Way
West murray Creek
East Murray Cree
Whiskey Slide
Green Ranch Rd
Pine Ridge Rd
Struckman Rd
Emigrant Ct
Avenue A
3 Mile Ln
Rodesino Rd
Carabaldi St
Washington St
Old Emigrant Trail W
Hwy 26
Cedar Way
Spring Lake Rd
Cilenti Ranch Rd
Loma Serena Rd
Swiss Ranch Rd
Worden Rd
Francine Ct
44 Ranch Rd
Ponderosa Wy
Storey Rd
Wendell Rd
Hidden Valley Rd
Sheep Ranch Rd

Sheep Ranch:

Eagleview Dr
Cave City Rd
Sun Rd
Ham Luddy Rd
Skyview Ct
Lakeside Dr
Sugar Pine Rd
Eagleview Dr
Live Oak Lane
Oakridge Rd
Calaveras Rd 

Railroad Flat Rd
Hidden Valley Rd
Sheep Ranch Rd

Butte Fire: State Senator Asks if PG&E Placed Profits Over Safety

Was PG&E’s cost-cutting a cause of the Butte Fire? Did PG&E use money that was supposed to be used for tree trimming and pay it out as profit to its executives? The attorneys for the Butte Fire victims have been looking into those questions from the outset of the Butte Fire investigation.   

Now State Senator Jerry Hill is asking the same questions.  He called PG&E into a meeting in SanButte Fire Lawsuits Francisco to find out.  Hill is someone who knows a bit about PG&E's history.

PG&E, in 1994, diverted $77 million from what was supposed to go to repair and maintenance of their electrical lines. They diverted it to corporate profits, to shareholder profits; just as they did in the gas system with hundreds of millions of dollars.”

This is the sort of thing that the California Public Utilities Commission is supposed to prevent.  But according to Hill, the CPUC has been unsuccessful in formulating vegetation management rules to prevent wildfires.  So Hill is getting involved in the issue himself.

Jerry Hill represents San Bruno, the community where a PG&E fire killed 8 and destroyed 47 homes in 2010.

              

PG&E Property Re-inspection and Further Tree Removal

PG&E has released a schedule for re-Inspection of Butte Fire properties and for further tree removal.  Unfortunately the timeline for the work is so broad as to be useless as a planning tool for residents.  

Butte fire

At seemingly arbitrary times and at the whim of the contractors over the next 10 days, PG&E may show up on victims' properties per the schedule below:

 

 

PG&E will be re-inspecting trees in the following areas:

   
Jesus Maria Rd Mokelumne Hill
Ponderosa Way Mokelumne Hill
Upper Dorray Rd Mountain Ranch
Worden Rd Mokelumne Hill
Hwy 26 Mokelumne Hill
Electra Rd Mokelumne Hill
Whiskey Slide Mountain Ranch
East Murray Creek Mountain Ranch
Doster Rd Mountain Ranch
Green Ranch Rd Mountain Ranch
Railroad Flat Rd Mountain Ranch/ Sheep Ranch
Fricot City Rd Sheep Ranch
Hidden Valley Rd Mountain Ranch/ Sheep Ranch
Old Gulch Rd Mountain Ranch

 

PG&E will be removing trees in the following areas: 

 

Jesus Maria Rd Mokelumne Hill
Baker Riley Rd Mokelumne Hill
Old Gambetta Rd Mokelumne Hill
Creations Way Mokelumne Hill
Potteroff Rd Mokelumne Hill
Doster Rd Mokelumne Hill
East Murray Creek Mokelumne Hill
Old Greek Mine Rd Mokelumne Hill
Shine Way Mokelumne Hill
Buttondown Lane Mokelumne Hill
Rainbow Rd Mokelumne Hill
West murray Creek Mountain Ranch
East Murray Creek Mountain Ranch
 Whiskey Slide Mountain Ranch
Green Ranch Rd Mountain Ranch
Old Emigrant Trail W Mountain Ranch
Hwy 26 Mountain Ranch
Fricot City Rd Sheep Ranch
Hidden Valley Rd Sheep Ranch/ Mountain Ranch
Rich Gulch Rd Mountain Ranch
Railroad Flat rd Mountain Ranch/ Sheep Ranch
Cedar Way Mountain Ranch
Eagleview Dr Moutain Ranch
Jesus Maria Rd Mokelumne Hill
Lower Dorray Rd Mokelumne Hill
Electra Rd Mokelumne Hill
Railroad Flat Mountain Ranch
Sheep Ranch Rd Sheep Ranch/ Mountain Ranch
Sun Rd Sheep Ranch
Ham Luddy Rd Sheep Ranch
Skyview Ct Sheep Ranch
Jesus Maria Rd Mokelumne Hill
Old Gambetta Trl Mokelumne Hill
Worden Rd Mountain Ranch
Ponderosa Wy Mokelumne Hill
Hwy 26 Mokelumne Hill
Francine Ct Mountain Ranch
44 Ranch Rd Mountain Ranch
Ponderosa Wy Mountain Ranch
Whiskey Slide Rd Mountain Ranch
 Ponderosa Way Mountain Ranch
Storey Rd Mountain Ranch
Green Hills Rd Mountain Ranch
   

 

 

PG&E's New Tree Debris Removal Program: A Waste of Time?

In response to landowner complaints, PG&E has agreed to remove all woody debris that is "reasonably accessible" and is:

·       greater than 4 inches in diameter and 6 feet or greater in length; and

·       within 100 feet of a structure or foundation or within 20 feet of main roads, driveways and private roads; or

·     on a steep banks with a potential target of waterways or roadways. 

PG&E will not compensate the landowners for the timber it removes and it may take up to three months to do the work.

And what is "reasonably accessible"? What does PG&E plan to do with all of the timber?  

While many landowners may agree this is a waste of time, or too little too late; some may want to take advantage of the program.  If so, the participation deadline: December 31, 2015.

Butte Fire Legal Team Files Death Suit

Owen Goldsmith was 82.  He had lived in Calaveras for more than 30 years. When the Butte fire threatened his home, he decided to stay and fight it.  Butte Fire Death Lawsuit 

On Tuesday, our Butte Fire legal team filed a wrongful death suit against PG&E in San Francisco on behalf of Goldsmith's family.  His daughter spoke to the press:

No one should have to go through what I imagine he went through. . . . It was so difficult to see that he died in his refuge."

Our lead lawyer on the case, Amanda Riddle, explained to NBCBay Area News, regardless of whether the 82 year-old was told to evacuate, it’s still on PG&E.

PG&E bears the ultimate responsibility. They put him in a situation where he felt that he had no escape."

 

Wrongful Death Complaint - Mathes v PGE - Filed