North Bay

A CalFire firefighter uses a hose to monitor hot spots during a firing operation while battling the Tubbs Fire on October 12, 2017 near Calistoga.

Close to 15,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the fires that ravaged the North Bay in October. As residents decide whether or not to rebuild, many are facing a daunting crisis: a shortage of contractors and construction workers, who were stretched thin even before the fires. Forum talks about the Bay Area’s overburdened construction industry and what it means for the speed and cost of new construction in the fire zones, and throughout the area.

Robert Eyler, professor of economics; dean, School of Extended and International Education, Sonoma State University
Keith Woods, CEO, North Coast Builders Exchange
Tim Leach, chair, Build and Rebuild Initiative, Habitat for Humanity Sonoma County
Kathy Goodacre, executive director, CTE Foundation


CTE Foundation: Construction Corps Training Program
KQED’s wildfire coverage
North Coast Builders Exchange: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Contractor


A view of homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood that were destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

More than $3 billion in insurance claims have been filed for damages from the recent wildfires in Northern California, yet many people who lost homes are either uninsured or underinsured. Meanwhile, some wealthy homeowners benefited from the protection of private firefighters provided by their high-end insurance policies. Forum talks with a consumer advocate about the issues faced by North Bay residents and takes your fire insurance questions.

Host: Michael Krasny

Amy Bach,
executive director and cofounder, United Policyholders
Janet Ruiz, California representative, Insurance Information Institute

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KQED’s Complete Fire Coverage

A resident goes through personal belongings in a parking lot next to a fire damaged Arby's restaurant on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

At least 15 people are reported dead due to the 16 fires raging across Northern California. The fires have burned over 100,000 acres and over 2,000 homes and structures. In this segment, we talk to a panel of experts about disaster preparedness and tools for communication during an emergency. And we would like to hear from you: what questions do you have about preparing for a disaster?

Barry Pilger,
lost his home in the Oakland Hills fires in 1991; served on Citizens Advisory Committee of the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District
Paul Rogers, managing editor, KQED Science
Sarah Reith, reporter, KZYZ
Lise Ann St-Denis, research scientist, University of Colorado, Boulder
Kevin Van Leer, Wildfire Product Manager, RMS

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A SMART train engine drives on tracks.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART Train, will begin full passenger service Friday morning, nine years after voters approved a sales tax to fund the project. The 10-stop train will carry commuters between the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael for fares ranging from $3.50 to $11.50. Plans to enlarge the 43-mile line are already underway and include a 2.1-mile extension from San Rafael to the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal. We discuss what’s in store for SMART train riders and the system’s impact on the North Bay. And we would like to hear from you — do you plan on using the SMART train? Why or why not? If you’ve taken a trial ride with SMART train, what did you think?

Farhad Mansourian, general manager, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART)
Dan Brekke, editor and reporter, KQED News

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