California spends billions rebuilding burned towns. The case for calling it quits
Buses and trucks are being directed along a freeway in an effort to begin the rebuilding on a road in Santa Rosa, Calif., that was destroyed by a wildfire that swept through the city in October 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
As you walk the main street in West Sacramento, it is easy to miss the irony of the time and the place. On one side of town, you have the new development: a cluster of new housing developments and apartment buildings in what has been renamed the “Harvey Center” development. On the other side of town, you have a cluster of stores that have survived the previous fire.
If you walk along the main street after dark, the stores that are open are no longer there. The businesses that survived the previous fire have either gone, opened new locations, or are currently under construction. At least two new churches have come to town, and one has moved — out of the area.
Most of the businesses that made the transition look and feel a little different: Gone are the bright signs featuring the local color-coordinated business logo that make the street look like a tourist destination. And in their place is what appears to be a new, generic white sign with the word “Gym” written beneath it. In fact, this is a new building that looks a lot like a high school gym.
It should be no surprise that after the West Sacramento Fire, when they rebuilt the town and the surrounding areas, the city of Sacramento had to put out its own fires. It seemed that the rebuilders were rebuilding in a fashion that looked more like something the Sacramento Fire Department would do than if they had rebuilt in the style of West Sacramento.
There is a very simple concept here: there is no money for public safety. In other words, there are no funds allocated to repair damaged buildings — or to save them during an event like a fire.
The idea that there is no money