Santa Cruz County Fire Recovery

Debris Removal
Environmental Health

Last Updated: January 21, 2020

Exempt Debris: If the only burn debris on a parcel is from non-residential structures less than 120 square feet, fences, and non-structural wood material. File an exemption application with Environmental Health and receive approval before any work on your site can begin. Click here for more information on the exemption program.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Debris Removal.


To ensure safety of workers, the public, and the environment, property owners must follow certain protocols after a wildfire disaster when removing structural ash and debris. Once USEPA teams have removed household hazardous waste (for more information on Phase I, click here), property owners may move into Phase II. After Phase II is complete either via the Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program or the Private Contractor option, the county will issue a clearance and rebuilding can begin. A clearance will be required by the Planning Department.

There are two ways to manage the debris and ash resulting from the wildfire disaster. A residential property owner may elect to participate in the Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program [Government (CalOES) Program] or may elect to complete the property remediation and debris removal by hiring private contractors and consultants to perform the cleanup work (Private Contractor Program).

The Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program will be completed by CalOES and CalRecycle working for and under the direction of FEMA. The government option is done at no cost to the property owner. However, if owners have fire debris removal insurance they are required to assign that portion of the insurance proceeds to the County to cover the cost of debris removal.

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The chart above shows what is included in the Government Sponsored Option. Burned water tanks will also be included in the debris removal though they are not listed in the chart.

In order to be included in the Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program, please fill out the Debris Removal Right of Entry. Several pieces of documentation will need to be included with the Right of Entry form. These include copies of a government issued ID, insurance, trust documents if the property is in the name of the trust, and signed by all individuals/trustees who own the property. Please DO NOT submit the Right of Entry unless all information is attached. We can not track incomplete information.

It is anticipated that the Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program will begin field work the first of December. The last day for the county to submit completed Right of Entry forms to the state is December 15, 2020.

Phase II Forms for Government Sponsored Debris Removal Program

  • Debris Removal Right-of-Entry
    DocuSign it Now * PDF Form
    * Note: Please add first and last name and email address for each Owner/Agent. Let them know they will be receiving and email invitation to complete and/or sign the form. If a recipient does not complete their section it will never be delivered to ENV. Also, please note that the attachments such as copy of your government ID, insurance papers, trust documents, are added in the Docusign program on the first page of the ROE. You will see a Yellow button with a red paper clip icon, click that and attach the documents before you submit the document.
  • Right of Entry Withdrawal Form
    PDF Form

Private Contractor Phase II Debris Program: If property owners elect not to participate in the Government (CalOES) Program, they are still required to remediate the property and remove the burn debris at their own expense, comply with all applicable requirements, and do so in a timely manner. The property owners will not be reimbursed with public funds for the remediation and debris removal. The property owners shall complete the remediation through a licensed contractor with proper certifications according to the requirements of the California Contractors State License Board (Click here to see the list for contractors working at the CZU Lightning Complex Fire).

Property owners opting out of the Government (CalOES) Program must submit the Property Owner Application to Hire a Private Contractor for Fire Debris Removal (Private Contractor Program Application) and work plan to Santa Cruz County Environmental Health for approval prior to commencing debris removal. Property owners shall review all requirements thoroughly before planning or pursuing their own debris removal. Property owners will not be allowed to rebuild on their property until the County has issued a certification of completion of the Alternative Program.

Incomplete applications will not be processed.

Phase II Forms for Private Contractor Option

  *Electronically Sign and Send the Document

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