Report recommends development of diverse housing types for mixed incomes and implementation of prototype wildfire area insurance program for the state of California
CHICAGO / PARADISE, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2022) — A team of real estate professionals representing The Counselors of Real Estate® (“CRE”) global organization today proposed a real estate roadmap to help rebuild the town of Paradise, Calif., following the 2018 Camp Fire – the most destructive and deadliest fire in California history, and the worst in the U.S. in over a century.
Aubrey Pruis, Association Executive of the Paradise Association of REALTORS®, engaged the CRE® Consulting Corps to offer objective analysis and strategic counsel and present recommended actions to expedite the redevelopment process and further restore the town.
The Counselors’ report is focused on immediate action steps to facilitate the rebuilding of Paradise’s housing stock within the next three to five years, and touches on efforts to rebuild commercial properties and services lost due to the fire. Recommendations in the report are the result of the CRE® Consulting Corps’ fact-finding visits to Paradise beginning in July 2021 and including several stakeholder interviews and virtual meetings.
“The road to rebuilding is paved with a number of challenges, but we see great promise in Paradise with the adoption and implementation of the right steps,” said Steven R. Norris, CRE®, from Pasadena, Calif., the CRE® Consulting Corps’ team leader for the Paradise assignment. “We want to build on the hard work and vision of the town of Paradise and the Paradise Association of REALTORS®. Our goal is to honor the people of Paradise for their remarkable courage and determination by giving them catalytic ideas to spur thoughtful, responsible, and sustainable redevelopment sooner rather than later. In doing so, we also hope other communities can reference the ideas in the report to consider how they might future-proof against catastrophes or, in the case of a devastating loss, rebuild.”
In November 2018, the Camp Fire, named for its origin along Camp Creek Road, burned more than 150,000 acres and leveled almost 19,000 buildings over 17 days in Paradise and the surrounding area, killing more than 80 people and leaving approximately 30,000 homeless.
The report presented to the Paradise community suggests numerous near-term actions to help rebuild the town, including:
- Hiring at least one private-sector individual with extensive “deal-making” experience to evaluate proposals and real estate development opportunities, expediting rebuilding efforts via public-private partnerships in coordination with other agencies and private sector developers/landowners.
- Enacting a resolution to strengthen property insurance coverage, such as creating a prototype state of California wildfire area insurance program, establishing pre-fire season inspections of real estate parcels to prevent and mitigate wildfire, and coordinating with the California Insurance Commissioner on coverage and costs to better protect residents in the case of another devastating wildfire.
- Addressing diverse housing supply and affordability.
- Expanding septic capacity for the community to increase opportunities for development and boost the local economy.
- Streamlining the zoning code and development review process to better facilitate safe rebuilding efforts.
- Designating an office or individual as the single point of contact at the local government level to assist individuals more readily in the rebuilding and financing process.
“Building a resilient and equitable community should be at the heart of a post-disaster recovery process, and we applaud the CRE® Consulting Corps for lending their expertise to the Paradise rebuilding process and sharing creative, attainable recommendations to revive our beautiful town,” said Pruis.
Pruis added, “The team of Counselors listened to our problems and concerns. Town leaders felt relieved that someone was listening to our challenges. This has been a game changer for Paradise and has exceeded my expectations. We feel this project is going to change lives and give a lot of people hope. It already has.”
In addition to Norris, the principal of a commercial real estate valuation and consulting firm, members of the CRE® Consulting Corps team for Paradise included Robert M. Greene, CRE®, Ph.D., chief appraiser for the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources from Olympia, Wash.; Keenan Hughes, CRE®, a public-private planning and zoning consultant from Hoboken, N.J.; Eileen E. Marrinan, CRE®, a real estate portfolio and investment strategist from San Francisco who holds a master’s degree in city planning; Greg D. Peterson, CRE®, a lawyer and expert in real estate development and complex entitlement issues from Boston; and Bruce Allen Wood, CRE®, a professional from Portland, Ore. specializing in structuring and managing real estate transactions with public-private partnerships.
The team assigned to Paradise, Calif., was selected for its objectivity and experience related to the project’s needs. More than 50 projects have been completed by CRE® Consulting Corps’ teams since 1997. CRE® members volunteer their time and expertise for Consulting Corps assignments—ranging from adaptive reuse projects to strategies for development of affordable housing—offering pro bono guidance representing the highest levels of industry knowledge.
The CRE® Foundation, the California Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® also supported the Paradise project. The full report on rebuilding Paradise is available at https://www.cre.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Paradise-Final-Report.pdf.