Spring/Summer 2019       |      David Fogt, Registrar      |      Gavin Newsom, Governor


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CSLB Makes Long-Term Commitment to Protecting Disaster Survivors

Between October 2017 and the end of 2018, California was hard hit by a series of disasters that changed the face of several communities.

2018 saw the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season in California history. As a result, CSLB made one of its biggest coordinated commitments to post-disaster recovery efforts in its 90-year history.

More than 7,500 wildfires burned almost 1.7 million acres of land in the state in 2018. The Mendocino Complex Fire in Colusa, Glenn, Lake, and Mendocino counties burned more than 459,000 acres, making it the single largest wildfire in state history. The Camp Fire in Butte County was the deadliest and most destructive, with 85 deaths and 18,804 structures destroyed. For the year, 98 civilians and six firefighters were killed as a result of wildfires across California.

As a consumer protection agency, and in its role regulating California's construction industry, CSLB is responsible for protecting those whose homes and property are directly affected by wildfires, as well as other catastrophic events like floods, mudflows, earthquakes, and pipeline explosions.

CSLB's post-disaster mission is to help ensure that survivors are not victimized by unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors who may try to take advantage of them during the recovery and rebuilding process.

The chart below lists 13 state of emergency declarations issued in 2018 for 11 wildfires and two torrential storms. The declarations affected 22 counties, two of which received multiple emergency declarations.

Source of Emergency County/Counties Effected Data of Declaration
March Storms Amador, Fresno, Kern, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne 4/19/18
Pawnee Fire Lake 6/25/18
Klamathon Fire Siskiyou 7/5/18
West Fire San Diego 7/6/18
Holiday Fire Santa Barbara 7/7/18
Monsonial Rainstorm San Bernardino 7/24/18
Carr Fire Shasta 7/26/18
Cranston Fire Riverside 7/26/18
Ferguson Fire Mariposa 7/26/18
Mendocino Complex Fires Lake, Mendocino, Napa 7/28/19
Holy Fire Orange, Riverside 8/9/18
Camp Fire Butte 11/8/18
Woolsey Fire Ventura, Los Angeles 11/9/18

CSLB Post-Disaster Response

CSLB invests significant resources in its post-disaster response program.

The first step is to staff various assistance centers opened for survivors run by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) and/or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In 2018, CSLB staffed 18 assistance centers, directly meeting with almost 2,900 disaster survivors. CSLB employees spent 4,600 hours staffing centers, or the equivalent of 115 five-day work weeks. In addition, CSLB staff assembled, shipped, or delivered thousands of pages of educational material for distribution at the various centers, as well as to the offices of local legislators, building departments, and chambers of commerce.

In addition, CSLB participated in a joint federal-state housing task force to address the issues surrounding both short and long-term housing needs for survivors of various disasters.

photos of CSLB Disaster Response staff

Disaster Warning Signs

CSLB also posted hundreds of signs, in both English and Spanish, throughout disaster areas to warn homeowners that unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors may try to scam them. The signs also warn unlicensed contractors that it is a felony to contract without a valid state license in a declared disaster area.

photos of the alerts posted at different areas in disaster areas warning unlicensed contractors not to work in those areasphoto of a disaster signe warning unlicensed contrators to avoid working in a disaster area with fire debris in the background

Media Outreach

In 2018, CSLB issued multiple news releases and hosted three news conferences with messages targeted to survivors, licensed contractors, and unlicensed or unscrupulous individuals hoping to take advantage of the situation. These efforts resulted in dozens of media stories.

Rebuilding Workshops

In response to the wildfires, in 2018, CSLB began a series of workshops, in conjunction with local agencies, to help both survivors and contractors with the rebuilding process. Survivor workshops focused on providing information about permits, hiring architects and contractors, and insurance claims. Contractor workshops focused on assisting those interested in adding license classifications, employees, and workers' compensation insurance to their licenses, and specific information about rebuilding. Nine workshops were held in burn zones around the state during 2018. Workshops are already on the calendar for the Woolsey and Camp Fire zones.

On-Going Enforcement Effortsphoto of officers patting down a suspect caught working without a license

During 2018, SWIFT investigators conducted 80 days of sweep operations within disaster areas in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, San Diego, Sonoma, Shasta, and Ventura counties. Investigators also secured owner permission to use fire-damaged properties for six enforcement stings in Napa, San Diego, Shasta, and Sonoma counties. Throughout the disaster areas in 2018, SWIFT investigators issued 18 administrative citations, referred 71 cases to the local district attorney for criminal prosecution (including multiple felony cases), issued 45 Stop Orders, and wrote 90 Advisory Notices for minor violations.

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