Must Read: Bolton on Disaster's Fiscal Impact
Now that the initial emergency has passed, and the scope of the human tragedy of the Montecito disaster is clear, the community must cope with a huge agenda of longer-range repercussions and intractable predicaments.
Local journalists and news organizations, always strapped for resources, nevertheless have made a good start in assembling, analyzing and clarifying complex data and policy issues underlying such issues.
Most notable to date: freelance investigative reporter Melinda Burns’s work on the science behind the catastrophe and the Indy's Tyler Hayden’s reporting about controversial official decisions about evacuations.
Now comes Tom Bolton, Noozhawk’s Executive Editor, with the first deep dive on the fiscal fall-out from the Thomas Fire and the deadly debris flows that followed, not only affecting property owners, but also Santa Barbara County and the funding for more than 100 agencies and programs within its borders.
Bolton reports this morning:
Beyond the death, destruction and disruption caused by the Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows in Montecito, there will be a staggering decline in assessed property values — one that likely will negatively affect local communities for years to come...
A preliminary estimate indicates that the assessed value of the nearly 400 homes, businesses and other real property damaged or destroyed by the mud and debris flows will plummet a cumulative $1.2 billion, according to Santa Barbara County Assessor Joe Holland…
Bolton's value-added reporting on the subject includes a batch of links to other reports and source documents, including this eye-opening chart of estimated 2018-19 property tax losses, which Giana Magnoli posted on Scrbid here.
P.S. Noozhawk Publisher Bill Macfayden, whose weekly column has been a singular source of on-the-ground, what-the-neighbors-are-saying updates since the first Thomas Fire evacuations, will join the panel this week on Newsmakers TV.
Images: Montecito destruction (Mike Eliason); Tom Bolton; Bill Macfayden.