Paradise Regained

CRE Consulting Corps Team Supports Rebuilding of Town Devastated by Wildfire

A team of real estate professionals representing The Counselors of Real Estate has proposed a road map to help rebuild the town of Paradise, Calif.

The Camp Fire of 2018, named for its origin along Camp Creek Road, burned more than 150,000 acres and leveled almost 19,000 buildings over 17 days in Paradise and the surrounding area. The fire killed more than 80 people and left about 30,000 residents homeless. It was the costliest disaster worldwide that year and the deadliest, most destructive wildfire in California’s history, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In 2021, the Paradise Association of REALTORS® engaged the CRE Consulting Corps to offer objective analysis and strategic counsel and recommend actions to expedite redevelopment and restoration of the town. The CRE Foundation, the California Association of REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS® also supported the Paradise project.

Temporary Paradise, CA sign

©Steve Norris

Temporary Paradise sign

CRE Consulting Corps teams offer pro bono guidance to municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government entities, educational institutions, and other owners of real property. Teams have completed more than 50 projects since 1997.

The Paradise team, after a fact-finding visit, stakeholder interviews, and more than 20 virtual meetings, developed a report focusing on actions that would enable Paradise to see progress in a three- to five-year time frame.

The team’s near-term recommendations, presented in January, include:

  • Designating an office or individual as the single point of contact at the local government level to help individuals with rebuilding and financing.
  • Creating proposals and real estate development opportunities and expediting rebuilding efforts via public-private partnerships in coordination with other agencies and private sector developers and landowners.
  • Enacting a resolution to strengthen property insurance coverage. The resolution could include creating a prototype state of California wildfire area insurance program, establishing pre–fire season inspections of real estate parcels to prevent and mitigate wildfire, and coordinating with the California insurance commissioner on coverage and costs.
  • Addressing diverse housing supply and affordability.
  • Expanding septic capacity for the community to support development and boost the local economy.
  • Streamlining the zoning code and development review process to better facilitate safe rebuilding.

“We see great promise in Paradise with the adoption and implementation of the right steps,” says Steven R. Norris, CRE, CRE Consulting Corps’ team leader for the Paradise assignment. “We want to build on the hard work and vision of the town of Paradise and the Paradise Association of REALTORS®, giving them catalytic ideas to spur thoughtful, responsible, and sustainable redevelopment." Norris adds that other communities could turn to the report's ideas if they want to future proof against—or rebuild from—catastrophe.

“The team of Counselors listened to our problems and concerns,” says Aubrey Pruis, association executive of the Paradise Association of REALTORS®. “We feel this project is going to change lives and give a lot of people hope. It already has.”

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