In the latest Around Town column, news about a Palo Alto fire crew that helped deter the Hog Fire in Lassen County, a $2 million grant to build granny units in East Palo Alto and a grant opportunity for Midpeninsula nonprofits.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE ... The Palo Alto Fire Department's Engine 365 crew returned on Wednesday evening, July 29, after nine days in Lassen County as part of an out-of-county team tapped to help extinguish the Hog Fire, which has burned 9,564 acres since July 18. The wildland blaze, located in the northeast section of the state about 70 miles west of the state border with Nevada, was 93% contained as of Sunday morning, Aug. 2, and the cause was under investigation, according to Cal Fire. The local four-person crew, which normally reports to Station 5 on Arastradero Road, included two firefighters who have previously been sent to wildfires. The two other firefighters, one of whom is a probationary firefighter, were taking on the job for the first time through the fire department. They were part of the Contra Costa County Strike Team XCC 2025C. Over the past week, the crew has faced thunderstorms, lightning, hail, heavy rain and strong wind gusts of more than 50 mph. The men have worked hard and maintained good spirits during their 24-hour shifts, said Battalion Chief Ryan Stoddard, who added that none of the local crew members were injured. They've also stayed busy laying out miles of hose lines to help attack the fire from the ground. The crew also took extra precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cal Fire, the lead agency on the fire, have modified base camps by creating pods to ensure strike teams, (groups of 21 people) don't mix with one another, according to Stoddard. Engine 365, which had little service in Lassen County, planned to debrief with the Palo Alto Fire Department to ensure all their needs are met upon their return, he said.
HOUSING GETS A BOOST... East Palo Alto has won a $2 million award from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to get more granny unit projects off the ground. The city applied for the funding in collaboration with the East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization (better known as EPA Can Do). The city and nonprofit plan to use the funds to issue loans of no more than $100,000 to construct, reconstruct, repair and rehabilitate accessory dwelling units at households that fall at or below 80% of the area median income. An estimated 20 or more households are expected to be assisted through the funds. The city and EPA Can Do worked with the Second Unit Working Group and Second Unit and Anti-Displacement Task Force on the application for the funds. The grant builds on other city efforts to make the permitting process for granny units more efficient.
EXTRA SUPPORT ... From now through Aug. 17, Midpeninsula nonprofits can apply for a grant of up to $100,000 from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Community Fund, which has assisted more than 70 organizations serving the Belle Haven, East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks and Redwood City communities since its launch in 2017. The private philanthropic organization, founded by Palo Alto residents Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, is looking to help groups providing basic needs, such as housing, food, education, job skills training and emerging issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Redwood City-based organization also is looking to support organizations impacted by structural racism and inequities, according to an announcement. "Local nonprofits have long led the fight to make sure that all members of our community have the opportunity and resources they need to thrive," Cristina Huezo, CZI's director of community, said in a release. "Now more than ever, we're proud to partner with these organizations, and are grateful for their tireless commitment to our community." Applications will be accepted online or by paper. To learn more about the fund and requirements, visit chanzuckerberg.com/community/fund.