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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 097-99097-00; Sonoma County
PW ID# Projject Worksheet 756; Geysers Road
November 21, 2008
Governors Authorized Representative
Governors Office of Emergency Services
3650 Schriever Avenue
Mather, CA 95655
Re: Second AppealSonoma County, PA ID 097-99097-00, Geysers Road
FEMA-1646-DR-CA, Project Worksheet (PW) 756
Dear Mr. McCarton:
This letter is in response to your letter dated June 18, 2008, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Sonoma County (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Securitys Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) denial of its request for a change in the scope of work and additional funding for PW 756.
Heavy rains in northern California caused landslides and mudslides in several counties, including Sonoma, in April 2006. PW 756 described damages to Geysers Road and the original scope of work, based on an inspection on July 26, 2006, included constructing a steel tie-back wall at a total cost of $318,564. A FEMA geotechnical engineer visited the site on August 15, 2006, and determined that the site was not damaged by a landslide and therefore, did not recommend a landslide report. Upon review, FEMA determined that the project was an improvement and limited the scope of work to cut-and-fill embankment repair and replacement of pavement at a total eligible cost of $37,801.
The Applicants first appeal, dated March 7, 2007, stated that FEMAs approved scope of work did not meet minimum standards of road construction or repair. It also stated that alternatives were not cost-efficient or feasible and that its proposed scope of work has been used by its force account labor for more than 25 years on hundreds of projects. Based on the appeal request, FEMA sent an engineer to perform a site inspection on August 7, 2007. The engineer determined that there was evidence of historic instability. On March 11, 2008, the Regional Administrator denied the Applicants request stating that the Geysers Road area had a history of instability and in accordance with Response and Recovery Directorate Policy 9542.2, Landslide Policy Relating to Public Facilities, stabilizing the site is the Applicants responsibility.
The Applicant submitted its second appeal on April 25, 2008, and provided additional information on May 27, 2008. The second appeal stated that the engineering analysis conducted on August 7, 2007, was flawed because no measurements were taken of the slope, no soil pits
were dug and no soil borings were done. In addition, the Applicant states that the scale of the contour map used by the engineer to determine historic activity is too large to make determinations regarding the slope. In its additional information, the Applicant described the geological characteristics of this slope, and again refuted the August 7, 2007, analysis. It included a memorandum from its Department of Public Works maintenance coordinator stating that County maintenance crews have never used synthetic fabric to stabilize asphalt paving (as was stated in the first appeal response). The Applicant requested $95,000 for the project (FEMA previously obligated $37,801).
According to FEMAs landslide policy, if a site is unstable due to an identified, pre-existing condition, an applicant is responsible for stabilizing the site before FEMA will fund restoration of the facility. Site stability is determined through limited geotechnical study based on a site evaluation and geotechnical drilling that may include soil cores, soil sampling, geotechnical analyses, data review and interpretation, and report preparation. In this case, at the time of the disaster, the geotechnical engineer determined that the site was not damaged by a landslide and therefore no landslide study was conducted. Only later was the site determined unstable, without a geotechnical study.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Applicants appeal should be granted in full. By this letter, I am requesting the Regional Administrator to take appropriate action to implement my decision.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206.
Carlos J. Castillo
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Karen Armes
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region IX