FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2019
Senior Programs Specialist
Board Approves Larkfield Estates Sewer Project and Low-cost Construction and Connection Fee Financing, Neighborhood Meeting Set for February 28 at 6pm at Riebli Elementary School
Santa Rosa, CA – The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) Board of Directors (Board) today approved a project to bring sewer service to the Larkfield Estates neighborhood that was destroyed in the October, 2017 Tubbs Fire.
“This is the kind of project that demonstrates the resiliency of our community,” said Water Agency Director James Gore, whose Fourth District includes the Larkfield area. “We’ve come up with a creative solution that allows property owners to voluntarily participate in an infrastructure improvement project, and if they choose to do so, can take advantage of some very good financing. We hope that as many people as possible sign up for this project.”
Included in the Board’s actions Tuesday was a March 31, 2019 deadline for property owners to execute a commitment letter indicating their desire to voluntarily participate in the project. The letter states that a sewer lateral will be constructed to their property and they will be required to connect once sewer service is available. The March 31 deadline is needed because it is necessary to know which properties will be included in the project in order to complete the design.
“This is a great example of a community, after the disastrous fires, taking the opportunity to make the community and the infrastructure stronger,” said Board Chair David Rabbitt. “I applaud their strength, perseverance, and initiative.”
The financing plan approved by the Board is intended to ease some of the financial burden for property owners during the rebuilding process. The estimated cost per-parcel to participate is $50,000-$65,000, depending on the amount of the construction bid that is awarded. Sonoma Water will offer property owners a 30-year loan to cover construction costs, with a 10-year grace period that includes no interest or principal. After 10 years, property owners would begin payments on a 20-year, fixed-rate 2.5% interest rate loan. Financing of the current connection fee of $11,940 will be available with a 20-year 2% interest loan, with payments starting at the time of connection to the sewer.
Total estimated cost for the project is currently $7.9 million, including construction, design, inspection and administration. There are 143 parcels eligible for sewer service within the project area. Previously, the neighborhood was served with privately owned septic systems.
Updated information on this project can be found by visiting www.sonomawater.org/larkfied/
Participation in the Larkfield Estates Sewer Project is entirely voluntary. Property owners who have functioning septic systems approved by Permit Sonoma may continue to use those, subject to requirements of Permit Sonoma. If you are not interested in participating in the proposed Larkfield Sewer Project, please feel free to disregard this message.
To those property owners who desire to participate in the proposed Larkfield Sewer Project, or are interested in more information about participating in the sewer project, we are asking for your assistance. The project is approaching the 60% design phase and we are asking property owners to provide us with information about the location of their private sewer lateral in their building plans. This will allow the project designer to include this information in the final design, so that the public lateral would be stubbed to each property line near where you plan to make your connection. Please submit this information to Doug Messenger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Upcoming Dates:
Feb. 5, 2019 – Board of Supervisors to Consider Project Approval
The Board of Supervisors will consider approving the project, in addition to consideration of a financing program that will allow property owners to finance the construction costs over a 30-year period (with no interest or payments until 2030) and to finance connection fees over a 20-year period (with payments starting upon connection). The financing of connection fees will be available to fire impacted properties in the Airport-Larkfied-Wikiup Sanitation Zone that will be making new connections to the sewer system.
February 28, 2019 – Community Meeting at Riebli School to Sign Up for Sewer Service
A community meeting will be held to provide an update on the project, review the financing program and allow property owners to approve a commitment letter that states their desire to voluntarily participate in the sewer project. Sonoma Water will have Notary Publics at the meeting available to notarize the commitment letters free of charge.
If you can’t make the meeting and want to sign up, please contact Barry Dugan at 707-547-1930 or email@example.com. We will be scheduling office hours with a notary for you to come in sign the documents.
More information about the Larkfield Sewer Project can be found at www.sonomawater.org/larkfield or by contacting Barry Dugan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 547-1930, (707) 331-2040.
Thank you for your time and we wish you our best as you rebuild.
Voluntary Sewer Approved
The Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) Board of Directors (Board) approved a plan to extend sewer service in the neighborhood of Larkfield Estates that was destroyed during last year’s fires. The Board directed Water Agency staff to initiate the design and construction of a sewer collection system in the neighborhood of Larkfield Estates, which includes an area primarily southeast of Old Redwood Highway and Mark West Springs Road, and to develop a financing program to lessen the financial burden of connecting to sewer service. Learn more here.
A note from Supervisor Gore:
March 22, 2018
There will be a neighborhood meeting on the topic of sewer connection in Larkfield Estates on April 3 at 5:30 p.m., location is still to be determined.
The Larkfield Estates Sewer Connection and Financing Program will be completely voluntary. We are planning to move forward with an updated program because it’s good for the community and environment. This has been a long discussion that provides an option for moving forward without placing a burden on people coming out of a crisis. Please see the updated program below.
Point of Sale Requirement Removed
– Based on recent feedback, the Water Agency has removed the point of sale requirement under its original proposal. The new proposal, outlined below, does not require connection to the sanitation system at the time of sale or transfer of property ownership. There is no requirement to hook up to the sanitation system under this proposed program.
– Based on recent feedback, all loans associated with this program are assumable/may be transferred to new property owners.
View the below link to the updated program.
Thank you for your ongoing input and collaboration.
A note from Water Agency Assistant General Manager Michael Thompson:
March 22nd, 2018
Dear Larkfield Estates Property Owners and Neighbors,
I would like to thank everyone for providing feedback on the Sonoma County Water Agency’s proposal to provide voluntary sewer service to Larkfield Estates. This proposal is being created based on insights provided by many different voices in your community.
Our most recent proposal included a provision that would have required property owners to connect to the sewer upon sale of the property. At last night’s community meeting at Mark West Elementary, a property owner raised valid concerns regarding this provision. Based on this feedback, the “point of sale” provision has been dropped from the proposed plan. In other words, the proposed program would be voluntary and there would be no requirement to connect to the sewer when properties change hands.
I also spoke with a couple of property owners regarding the ability to transfer the loan/lien that would be available to property owners who do wish to connect. We had proposed that the loan/lien be due upon transfer of a property, but based on this couple’s input, we believe we should be able to make this lien/loan assumable to new property owners.
I hope these revisions to the proposed plan for providing sewer service to the Larkfield Estates reduces some of the concerns associated with this effort. We truly do want to help those who desire sewer service without burdening those who don’t. We plan to request formal direction to proceed with this plan in May from our Board of Directors.
Please continue to provide your comments and input on this proposal because they are helping us create a better program. Please direct your questions and comments to Water Agency Programs Specialist Sophie Porcelli at Sophie.Porcelli@scwa.ca.gov or (707) 524 – 6430. Sophie will be working to respond to your questions and comments as quickly as possible.
Updated information on this program can be found at www.sonomacountywater.org/Larkfield/.
I sincerely hope the rest of your rebuilding process proceeds quickly.
Assistant General Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency
The County sanitation district is still receiving surveys back from neighbors – while a majority approve of an assessment district, less than 40 percent approve of a tax of $333 to build a collection system. There are no plans to begin design or construction of a neighborhood-wide sewage system to date.
A neighborhood meeting was held at the Sonoma County Water Agency to discuss financing a sewer system. The staff presentation is below:
In a nutshell, the Water Agency can build a sewer system in our neighborhood, which totals 148 homes. The cost per home would be $50,000 to pay for the design and construction of the sewer system. That does NOT include the $11,000 connection fee and annual service fee (which is currently $900). More information can be found on the above presentation.
Action needed! A survey was handed out at the meeting. Those who were not at the meeting, will receive the survey by mail. Please complete and return the survey by January 31, 2018. The survey evaluates overall interest of the neighborhood to create an assessment district to help pay for the design and construction of the sewer system. The survey also provides a financial option. If you have any questions, please contact Kevin Booker at email@example.com. Kevin is the lead engineer at the Water Agency managing this project.
What’s next? Survey results will be announced the first week of February. If there is not enough support for a tax to fund the collection system ( 2/3 vote of 148 homes is needed to pass a tax) then the Water Agency will not move forward with this project. However, if neighbors are still interested, we can get bids from private engineering firms to build the collection system for cheaper and then continue to work with the Water Agency on a smaller scale.
Stay tuned for more meetings on this subject.
Neighbor lead: Brad Sherwood (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Meeting notice: Tuesday, January 9th at 6:30pm at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa. This will be the second meeting to discuss connecting to the Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation Zone. An agenda will be posted soon.
A meeting was held with the Sonoma County Water Agency to discuss options to connect to the sanitation system, and CalAm provided an update on their drinking water system.
Copies of the presentation and handouts will be uploaded here soon.
- Water Agency and County staff will provide a more detailed cost analysis of constructing a sanitation system in Larkfield Estates and neighboring areas.
- An initial vote of the neighborhood should take place to begin the assessment process for cost-sharing the design and construction of the sanitation system in the neighborhood.
- Next meeting: Early January. Another meeting will be held to review the updated cost analysis. After that, an initial vote to proceed or not will be conducted by a third party. A meeting announcement will be made here with the date and time – along with an email announcing the meeting details. Sign up to receive e-mails at email@example.com .
Questions? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sewage (Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup Sanitation District). The District is putting together an engineering report on the possibility of connecting larkfield Estates and nearby areas to its collection and treatment system. An informational meeting will be held soon to discuss further.
Sewer connection: Many in our neighborhood have asked about connecting to the county’s sewer collection and treatment system (the Airport Larkfield Wikiup County Sanitation Zone). The Zone is owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency. Water Agency staff are currently drafting plans for our neighborhood on what it would take and cost to connect to the sewer system.
Below is the most updated report on this issue:
Preliminary analysis shows that the existing sewer collection system has capacity to serve the neighborhood.
At this time, staff believe the Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup treatment plant has the capacity to treat the additional flow from the neighborhood. This could change based upon future development in the Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup Sanitation Zone.
Because the Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup treatment plant disposal is through land application (irrigation of recycled water), staff is looking into scenarios to increase land application.However, at this time, land application for disposal is limited, which could impact the number of homes that will be allowed to connect.
In order to serve the neighborhood, extending the collection system into the neighborhood area, will be required. Staff is in the process of developing a conceptual pipeline layout, and will provide a copy to the neighborhood when done.
Please keep in mind, the cost to extend the sewer collection system into the area is borne by the homeowner(s). Staff is in the process of developing preliminary design and construction cost. Staff goal is to get the neighborhood the preliminary cost and the conceptual design in the coming weeks. There are methods to finance the design and construction.
Currently, in Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup SZ:
Connection Fee per ESD- $11,190.
Annual Sewer Service Charge per ESD- $900 annually
Questions? Let Brad Sherwood (email@example.com) know.