A Modest Proposal For Rebuilding Santa Rosa

by Jonah Raskin, November 29, 2017

As Sonoma County gets ready to rebuild its burned-out neighborhoods I would like to make a modest proposal: that no regulations whatsoever be imposed on builders, contractors, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and the like. My proposal probably is not as strange as it may sound. After all, Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood was previously exempt from state fire regulations. It was not deemed to be in a “very severe” fire risk area and thus it was not covered by mandatory building requirements. Some say that Coffey Park should have been designated a high-risk fire area and that fire-resistant buildings should have been part of the building code. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Let’s leave that all that to the college professors.

I suggest that Coffey Park not be upgraded to a neighborhood where catastrophic fire is likely. I also suggest that any new construction in Coffey Park not be undertaken to please the wimps who like to scare us with tales of climate change and water scarcity. We live in a democracy and a free market economy and citizens should be allowed to build their dream houses any way they want. That’s at the heart of the California Dream, which is the American Dream writ large.

I know that the needless loss of human life is tragic. Still, Santa Rosa of late had become over-populated. Some thinning out was necessary. The fire did that for us. Its measures were harsh, but sometimes harsh measures are necessary. Moreover, the housing market needed a shot in the arm. The fire that swept across Coffey Park was the shot that it will make it possible to build from the ground-up, no holds barred.

If citizens want three or four story homes, that is their God-given right, and no local or state rules and regulations should deprive them of that right. To allow government agencies to impose their ideas about how to build and where and when and why to build would be to surrender to socialism and we elected Donald Trump to keep socialists like Bernie Sanders out of the White House.

It might not be a bad idea to invite the president, his daughter and son-in-law to come to Santa Rosa to oversee the construction of what we might call a “mini-Manhattan.” But perhaps importing Donald, Jared and Ivanka is unnecessary. After all, we have our own fair-haired boy Darius Anderson. I know that my modest proposal will find friends, allies and supporters all around Sonoma County. It already has them. No less an august personage than Paul Gullixson, my erstwhile colleague, has already come out against regulations in the pages of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I think that’s what he meant when he said that it is not necessary to have new rules in place for those who want to rebuild. “They have a right to build their homes the way they were and, most likely, the way their insurance company’s insist,” Guillixon wrote.

Hear, hear! Let’s leave it to the insurance companies to decide the way that houses are rebuilt. The insurance companies have my best interests and your best interest in mind when they offer us coverage and collect modest fees for the risks they take. That’s the beauty of the free enterprise system. Let’s not let the environmentalists ruin it for the rest of us. Finally, let me say that the fires that burned down those homes in Coffey Park were not a “catastrophe” as some have called it. Or if it was a “catastrophe” it was a catastrophe with a silver lining. Rebuilding Coffey Park will enable Santa Rosa to get rid of the “undesirables” who have snuck in through the backdoor and who have taken advantage of loopholes that ought to be closed once and for all. Build, baby, build and burn, baby, burn, that’s the way of the world. It always was and always will be.

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