Santa Rosa offers deal to debris contractor to avoid fines for trailers

A Santa Rosa official said staff still will determine how many trailers can remain on a contractor’s property.|

For now the trailers can stay.

The camp trailers on family property of Santa Rosa contractor Michael Wolff, which serve as temporary homes for workers clearing fire debris, won’t result in fines this week against Wolff, a city official said Wednesday.

“We want to try to make this all work out,” said David Gouin, the city’s director of Housing and Community Services.

The announcement followed a story in Wednesday’s Press Democrat about Wolff, who said he was facing fines of up to $10,000 a day for placing 10 trailers on his father’s property in northwest Santa Rosa.

Wolff said he received a written notice that the fines would start Wednesday unless he corrected all violations. A code enforcement officer warned that the fines could add up to $1,000 a day for each trailer on the Dennis Lane property, he said.

Wolff has said he simply is trying to provide his crews with temporary living quarters in an area where housing is so limited. But Santa Rosa staff members, he said, essentially told him “there is no city ordinance that allows what I’m asking for.”

Gouin on Wednesday maintained the threatened fines regarded not the trailers but violations from work that Wolff began on the property last September. Wolff stockpiled soil on the site and did work on electrical systems and a well, all without permits, according to Gouin.

Gouin emphasized the city told Wolff that if he applies for permits and “works with us through the process,” then “we don’t enforce those fines.” He called it good news that Wolff came in Tuesday and spoke with city staff.

Looking ahead, the city next will determine how many trailers the property can accommodate.

“We’re looking at all options,” Gouin said. “We want to see if we can find a way to issue a temporary use permit for the trailers.”

Wolff said Tuesday was his fifth meeting at City Hall. He emphasized that his first visit was to inquire about any applicable rules before ever placing the trailers onto the 1-acre property.

One concerned worker this week moved his trailer, leaving nine on the property, he said. But that man now may return.

Wolff said it bothered him that some people on social media have portrayed him as a “renegade” abusing the system. He said he wants to make the proper permit application, but as of Tuesday he had yet to be provided one to fill out.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or

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