Olivehurst subdivision losing OPUD fire service
Residents in an Olivehurst subdivision are receiving notice this week: As of Nov. 1, their principle emergency response won't be coming from the Olivehurst Fire Department, about two miles away.
Instead, because of a lapsed agreement, their responses will come from a fire station twice as far away, and affiliated not with Olivehurst, but the city of Wheatland.
The notices being hung on doors in the Summerfield subdivision this week stem from a complex financing system those residents have for paying for fire service.
Olivehurst Public Utility District General Manager Tim Shaw, who wrote the posted letter to the Yuba County Local Agency Formation Commission and others, said Summerfield residents are now paying less to OPUD for fire service than those in nearby historic Olivehurst, but receiving the same service.
Summerfield, which was built in 2004, is south of McGowan Parkway between highways 70 and 65. When it was annexed into the utility district, a community services agreement set at $39 the amount residents there pay for fire, sewer and other OPUD services.
But the area is also served by the Plumas-Brophy Fire District, a partner agency with the Wheatland Fire Department. To comply with state law restricting overlapping services, the district and OPUD drafted an agreement five years ago for both agencies to receive instant notification of an emergency call.
Because of the utility district's relative proximity to the subdivision, Shaw said, its fire crews have responded to calls in Summerfield more quickly than Plumas-Brophy crews typically could.
But the agreement expired earlier this year, and Shaw said so far, his agency had received no response from the fire district's board about what to do next. Wheatland Fire Chief Joe Waggershauser said a committee is supposed to present solutions to the fire board this week.
"I'm not sure what the actual intent of the letter is," said Waggershauser, who received a copy along with Summerfield residents, LAFCO and Yuba County officials.
He noted OPUD and Plumas-Brophy still have a mutual aid agreement where if an emergency arose and Plumas-Brophy received the first call, its crews can immediately request help from Olivehurst.
Waggershauser and Shaw actually agreed on a possible solution: Approaching LAFCO about detaching Summerfield entirely from Plumas-Brophy and letting response lie exclusively with OPUD.
Both said they think it's possible to find a solution without creating a situation where Summerfield residents could be affected by longer response times if the utility district's fire crews no longer got the first call.
Such a possibility was worrying to Guadalupe Rivera, 42, who has lived in Summerfield for six years.
Through a translator, she said she would prefer Olivehurst still be the first responder whenever possible.
"Because sometimes it's just urgent to be there as soon as possible," she said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.