The 2017 North Bay Wildfires were the deadliest in California history, destroying close to 3,000 homes in Santa Rosa alone, roughly 5% of its housing. Reports since the fire show that the majority of households were significantly under-insured and face increased costs for rebuilding and landscaping.
The next year of the rebuild will shape the character and determine the resilience of our fire impacted neighborhoods and communities. One major obstacle is having a completed, permit-approved front yard landscape. From the beginning of the post-fire rebuild, Daily Acts has worked in partnership to help reduce some of these barriers to re-entry, collaborating with the Sonoma County Water Agency, the City of Santa Rosa, and local landscape architects to create scalable landscape design templates. Designed for water, fire, and resource resilience, these templates are free to the public and will expedite permit approval while saving thousands of dollars in expense per household. The templates are accessible to the public and can be found by clicking here.
As part of this work, Daily Acts co-hosted a series of community input sessions to discuss landscaping in the rebuild. We heard from over 200 fire survivors that the process is overwhelming and that there is a need for resources, support and demonstration gardens to see examples of what is possible. Since the release of the templates, Daily Acts staff have become trained template advisors and have continued to host programs to educate rebuilders on how to incorporate various sustainable landscape elements such as rainwater capture and graywater reuse.
Now, Daily Acts is ready for the next phase of this vital work, creating in the ground models of the four template styles – Sonoma Cottage, Sonoma Contemporary, Native/Adaptive and Eco- Edible, to provide tangible examples of what these solutions can look like. All we need now are host sites that are ready to go!
If selected as a host site, Daily Acts staff will work with you to scale the template to your site. These landscapes will be installed by mobilizing community volunteers over the course of three workshops focused on a specific aspect of installation: 1) sheet mulching and earth works, 2) planting and 3) irrigation. Each workshop will be led by Daily Acts staff with support from local sustainability experts, designers and contractors.
To be considered as a host site, the host would need to meet the following requirements:
- Be a Santa Rosa Water customer with a front yard landscape of 2,500 ft2 or less.
- Be excited to work with the landscape templates and model sustainable features like rain gardens, swales and tanks.
- Be ready for landscape installation i.e. construction is at sheet rock stage or close to being complete.
- Provide funding for landscape materials estimated at $3,500 – $7,500 depending on the design.
- Provide on-going site access for initial assessment, design process, installation workshops and follow-up.
- Be comfortable hosting a group of 15-25 people on your site throughout the installation process.
- Assist with workshop outreach by promoting the event to friends, family and neighbors.
- Help Daily Acts host tours of your model site to highlight incorporated features.
While this is a pilot focused on four front-yard landscapes, our goal is to expand this program to serve more residents. The more applications we receive will allow us to make the case for more funding to support this work. To apply to be a host site, please click here. Applications are due by March 31st.
*If selected as a host site, Daily Acts will provide you with a liability waiver for review.
The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership has developed eight scalable landscape design templates for the fire rebuild. These free, front yard designs are scalable to fit landscaped areas up to 2,500 square feet, ready-to-permit, and in compliance with local Water Efficient Landscape Ordinances. The eight front yard plans are available in two of each of these styles:
- Sonoma Native/Adaptive – an emphasis on native and fire safer plants
- Sonoma Eco-Edible – a mix of edible and habitat plantings that maximize sustainability
- Sonoma Contemporary – a modern, minimalistic and clean look that is easy to maintain
- Sonoma Cottage – a Sonoma version of a cottage garden with natural materials and colorful plantings
For more information about architectural renderings, concept plans and design templates please click here to be re-directed to the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership website. Click here for a PDF version of all eight concept plans.
Many thanks to the lead design team at Ann Baker Landscape Architecture, as well as their collaborators.