North Bay News

News for and about Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District (USACE) has established a Debris Removal Information Line for property owners affected by October’s devastating wildfires in Northern California. 

The number for the USACE Debris Removal Information Line is 877-875-7681, and is intended for residential property owners who have signed up for the government-sponsored debris removal program. Residential property owners who are registered for the program can also e-mail:


California Update for Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Jan 3, 2018
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• The state Senate left a female Fellow in the Sen. Tony Mendoza’s office for six weeks after receiving a sexual misconduct complaint. It’s the latest concern—but far from the only one—of critics who question the HR credentials of Senate leadership.

Find Ben Adler's full investigation HERE.

On December 7, 2017, the Board of Public Utilities approved Billing Adjustments for Fire Protection Water Use policy. The policy allows for a billing adjustment for properties that experienced increased use due to fire related water loss and activities during the month of October 2017. For all account types, water use must be higher than prior water use, compared to same time last year.

With its mission over one-third complete, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District (USACE) has awarded two contracts for the consolidated debris removal program in Northern California following the October 2017 Wildfires. 

In Sonoma County, Environmental Chemical Corp. (E.C.C.), Burlingame, California, was awarded a $475-million firm-fixed-price Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract. 

In Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties, CERES Environmental Services, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, was awarded a similar contract for $160 million. 

The State/Federal Disaster Recovery Center in Santa Rosa will convert to a U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center. The center will continue to operate at the Press Democrat Building beginning Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at 9 a.m. 

The Oak Granary

When the October firestorms swept through Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, the innovative Frey family winery on Tomki Road lost vehicles, equipment, homes and a barn full of goats. In December, Katrina Frey welcomed volunteers bearing acorns onto the burned land around the dormant vines.

California Update for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jan 2, 2018
Maiko Walk 27 / Flikr

• California drivers will pay more to renew their car’s registration in 2018, as part of a new law to help pay for deferred maintenance and roadwork. The deal approved by Gov. Jerry Brown also increased the state gas tax.

Find more new California laws now in effect for 2018 HERE.

• Caltrans is taking climate change seriously. So seriously that the organization is prepping 12 reports that evaluate how things like warming temperatures, changes in rainfall and wildfires affect roads.

California Update for Monday, January 1, 2018

Jan 1, 2018
Richard Vogel / AP file photo

• It's now legal in California for adults 21 and older to buy marijuana for recreational use from a licensed retailer. Voters triggered this massive change after they approved Proposition 64 on the November 2016 ballot.

Find more new California laws taking effect this year HERE.

Today's reporting by Sammy Caiola.

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs)  


The Sonoma County Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are permanently closed. Those affected by the October wildfires can still reach FEMA by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), online at and through the FEMA app.  

California Update for Friday, December 29, 2017

Dec 29, 2017
AP photo

• The deaths of an 18-year-old and his 25-year-old, uncertified tandem jump instructor have resulted in and update to California law.

• Another new California laws taking effect on January 1st is intended to prevent “school lunch shaming.” That’s when schools deny students food because their parents haven’t paid lunch fees.

Find more California laws taking effect January 1, 2018 HERE.

Today's reporting by Steve Milne and Bob Moffitt.

California Update for Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dec 28, 2017

• Low-income Californians will have access to dental services they’ve lacked since 2009, under a law taking effect on New Year’s Day.

Find more new laws taking effect in the new year HERE.

• The state's DUI messaging emphasis shifts to pot, as recreational marijuana becomes legal on January 1st. Law enforcement says "no matter your age or reasons for consuming cannabis, you should never drive while high."

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford and Randol White.

Pre-Paying Property Taxes

What Sonoma County Property Owners Should Know

The Sonoma County Tax Collector is receiving a number of inquiries from property owners who wish to “pre-pay” property taxes prior to January 1, 2018, resulting from the federal tax bill with a new $10,000 limit on state and local taxes that may be deducted for federal income tax purposes. 

Stacey Dennick

Recently, we shared some news and impressions from this year’s Emerald Cup – the yearly meeting of cannabis business professionals and enthusiasts. As you may know, the era of cannabis prohibition is ending in California on January 1. No, you probably won’t be able to walk into your local pot store on New Year's Day – the rules and regulations are still emerging. But it may be time to make sure that the history of the underground marijuana industry isn’t lost to the ages.

Reporter Sarah Reith hung out with some budding historians at the Emerald Cup, and has this report. 

Spending Christmas in a FEMA Trailer

Dec 27, 2017
Woman with dog
Stacey Dennick

The holiday season can be a difficult time. That's been especially true for the dozens of people living in FEMA trailers at the Sonoma Fairgrounds RV Park.  

Brenda Cappel lived on Willowview Court in Santa Rosa for 10 years until last October’s firestorms. She’s been in a FEMA trailer since the day after Thanksgiving.

“I loved my home; it was my Xanadu,” Cappel said.  “I had a really hard time getting myself out of my house, because you know in the back of your mind, if you have to leave like that, you’re not coming back.”

California Update for Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dec 27, 2017
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• New laws give sexual assault victims clear direction as to their rights, which includes not cooperating with police.Law enforcement must enter rape kits into a data base and keep them for at least 20 years.

• Help is on the way for fathers of young kids who often struggle to find diaper changing stations in men’s bathrooms.

Find a list of more new California laws taking effect in the new year HERE

Today's reporting by Bob Moffitt and Ben Adler.

In the midst of the holiday season, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is asking insurers to help California wildfire survivors who are overwhelmed with the task of navigating the claims process by providing relief from detailed home inventories and following the lead of other insurers providing up to 100 percent of contents (personal property) coverage limits without a detailed inventory. 

Multiple agencies working collaboratively to warn residents of risk of flooding and mudflows in identified medium and high risk burn areas  

Assemblyman Marc Levine and family
Marc Levine

Last week we talked with Assemblymember Marc Levine about the challenging year we’ve had. News Director Steve Mencher asked Levine about his number one concern for 2018 – that turns out to be the ever-widening gulf between rich and poor in our community.

California Update for Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dec 26, 2017
Editor B / Flikr

• A new bill changes the eligibility requirements for subsidized child care. Parents taking English language and high school equivalency classes will now have access to the program.

Find a summary of all new laws taking effect on January 1st HERE.

Outbeat Radio News for Monday, December 25, 2017

Dec 25, 2017

• In an apparent response to the Trump administration’s ban of the U.S. CDC’s use of 7 words, the Trudeau government in Canada insists that entitlement, transgender, diversity, evidence-based, science-based, fetus, and vulnerable be used in government documents. 

• Catholic Priest Gregory Greitan of Minnesota told his parishioners that he is gay. He got a standing ovation. 

• Here in California, the state is suing a Bakerfield baker for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex couple in an apparent violation of the state’s non-discrimination law.

California Update for Monday, December 25, 2017

Dec 25, 2017
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• Starting January 1st, a new California law makes it illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while actively driving or riding as a passenger in a car. The law applies to marijuana edibles such as brownies and breakfast bars.

• California school employees with concealed weapons permits will no longer be able to bring guns on campus in the New Year.

Find a summary of all new laws taking effect on January 1st HERE.

Today' reporting by Chris Nichols and Steve Milne.

Two Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) in Sonoma County will be closed Dec. 23-25 in observance of the holiday weekend. 

The centers will reopen on Tuesday, Dec. 26, and remain open through Thursday, Dec. 28, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Both centers will close permanently at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 28. 

• Sonoma County DRC, Hanna Boys Center, 17000 Arnold Drive, Sonoma 95476
• Sonoma County DRC, Press Democrat Bldg., 427 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa 95401   

Survivors of the October wildfires may still be able to qualify for disaster assistance even if they receive a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) saying they are not eligible. 

Often it’s a matter of needing to submit more information so FEMA or SBA can continue processing the application. Examples of missing documentation might include an insurance settlement letter, proof of residency or ownership of a damaged property, or simply that the applicant did not sign the required documents. 

California Update for Friday, December 22, 2017

Dec 22, 2017
File photo / Capital Public Radio

• A law going into effect in January requires California ranchers to get a prescription from a veterinarian to administer antibiotics to cattle, sheep and other livestock.

Find a summary of all new California laws taking effect in 2018 HERE.

• California flu numbers are higher-than-usual for this time of year, and officials are pushing people to get their shots.

Today's reporting by Julia Mitric and Sammy Caiola.

Trucks unloading at Mecham Road landfill
Sarah Tan

About two months ago the North Bay wildfires were contained. Most of the toxic debris has been carted away -- like asbestos, burned plastic, and car batteries. Material like ash and everything else left behind is still being cleared. Independent producer Sarah Tan reports on progress at the main county landfill.

California Update for Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dec 21, 2017
Charles Rex Arbogast AP file photo, 2014 / AP file photo, 2014

• California sues the Trump administration over methane rules around gas drilling.

• Workers at nursing homes in Calif. can be fined for LGBT discrimination. All seniors in long-term care facilities have protections written into state law. But, nursing home interactions can be more complicated for LGBT patients.

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford and Randol White.


KRCB News Director Steve Mencher began a conversation earlier this week with Assemblyman Marc Levine, who represents Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties. Today they touch on lessons learned from the North Bay fires, and the Assemblyman’s view of what the California legislature accomplished this year, including extension of the Cap and Trade Program. 

California Update for Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dec 20, 2017
Andy Blackledge / Flikr

• A new California law allows pedestrians to cross the street, even when the “Walk” signal isn’t displayed.

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford.

Find a list of all new California laws taking effect on the first of the year HERE.

Christmas tree, Coffey Park, Santa Rosa
Diane Askew

Ready or not Christmas is coming. After October’s fires in the North Bay, this will be a holiday like no other. April Dembosky of The California Report visited Coffey Park to find out how some fire survivors are marking Christmas this year.

Find April Dembosky's original report here.

More information on free grief counseling at the International Institute for Humanistic Studies.

California Update for Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dec 19, 2017
J. Richard /

• During the holidays Americans produce a lot of waste. CalRecycle is working on policy recommendations to reduce the amount of holiday trash destined for landfills.

• Lawmakers in Washington are gathering support for Tuesday's big vote on tax reform as some California non-profits warn of its potential impact.

Today's reporting by Ezra David Romero and Chris Remington.