Reopening & Rebuilding News
We understand your curiosity to view the fire aftermath and rebuilding, but Harbin is closed to visitors at this time.
Water Permit Issued: Immediately after the Valley Fire, Harbin’s water permit was placed on hold because of the wide-scale destruction of our collection and distribution systems. Our Water Department has been hard at work repairing these systems, and the engineer of the Drinking Water Branch of the State Water Resources Control Board recently made a 3.5-hour site visit to evaluate our progress. We are delighted that the State has now issued a water permit for Harbin – which was an absolute must for our reopening.
Electrical Service Installed: Immediately after the Valley Fire, we applied for service and electrical panel design from PG&E; our lengthy design and permitting processes with PG&E and the County have recently been completed. We now have new 2000 Amp electrical service installed, including a transformer and panels, which will provide permanent power to our pools, pool area structures, future restaurant and market, and many other buildings.
Food-Service Trailer Permits Received: We have now received zoning permits for a temporary food-service trailer, which will allow us to sell coffee and prepared foods when we open for Phase 1.
Office Trailer Permits Received: We were recently informed by the County that, on recommendation of the Department of Public Works, Harbin will no longer be allowed to have an entry kiosk (gatehouse) at the pre-fire site. We are reviewing the implications of this decision and our options. One possibility would be to place a temporary gatehouse/office trailer in one of the parking lots, and we have received permits to do this, should we so choose.
Pool-Area Retaining Walls Nearly Complete: We have made considerable progress on the pool-area retaining walls, and expect that all remaining retaining walls will be poured over the next three weeks. The next step is construction of the deck around the pools; we have procured the needed materials for this, and signed a contract with Salmina Construction to do the work.
Pools Landscaping Begun: landscaping work around the pools has started, including the planting of several mature trees above the swimming pool. This work, as well as bio-mass removal around the pools, will continue.
Cottage Grove Cabins Update: these cabins are being built in a factory in Southern California, and are now expected to be completed by 6/15. We are awaiting a permit from the County to pour foundations for these cabins. It is our hope that the foundation work gets completed before the Magic Inn Road bridge replacement begins (expected some time this month), so that these cabins can be installed directly on their permanent foundations.
Phase 2 Building Design Completed: The design by architect Lars Langberg for Domes 1&2 has been completed; Lars is now proceeding with the permit set.
Phase 3 Building Designs Begun: We have begun the design process for Phase 3 buildings for Mainside, starting with the dressing room, steam room, and spa building. Each of these buildings requires: a site survey, civil engineer review for drainage and utilities, geo technical study (soil test), a schematic design by the architect, and preparation of a permit set in consultation with each of the structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers. After these structures, it is our intention to plan/design the following buildings in the following order: welcome center (reception); restaurant, market; garden guest rooms; events center; walnut and azalea buildings; guest cabins; theater/guest lounge/library/coffee shop building; lost and found/administrative offices; and temple.
Staff Housing Planning: If the Groves Cabin modular build/installation works out successfully, we will start designing ten 1-bedroom and five 2-bedrooms staff cabins, also to be constructed off-site as modular units. This work would require prior approval of our Updated General Plan of Development by the County, which we hope to receive before the end of this year; if approved, we hope to complete these buildings by early next year.
– The Harbin Rebuild Team
Thankfully, last month was not as rainy as the previous four months, and we were able to make significant progress on the main retaining wall at the old Redwood site. Additional concrete work that can now be done includes: other retaining walls, the elevator pit, future café flatwork and columns, the post base for the trellis at the upper level, steps and sidewalk to the upper level, and the ADA compliant parking area. We expect that all this concrete will be poured by May 31. After that, we can begin work to redo the concrete decking around the pools themselves, making it ADA compliant.
We continued to make progress on other projects in the pools area, including: pools resurfacing, the hot pool roof, sauna, storage area, pump room, and electrical service for mainside. We also continued making progress on the rebuilding of ADA compliant comfort stations 1&2, and the property-wide removal of dead trees, and new tree planting. Additionally, we made progress with the County Planning and Health departments on finalizing our plans to have an interim food trailer in place for the Phase 1 opening. This trailer will allow us to prepare and offer coffee and meals to guests until our permanent dining facility is built in the future.
The Magic Inn Road Bridge is slated for replacement this summer, and a temporary bridge is currently in place; this is a County/State project with federal financing, and an expected cost of around $500,000. We have been working with the County and Quincy Engineering on relocating our water and sewer lines during the bridge replacement. Timing of this replacement is significant. Off-site construction of our Cottage Grove cabins (described in our February/March Rebuild Notes) has begun, and we need and expect them to be completed and transported to the Groves site by May 31– before work on the bridge replacement begins.
In the Updated Plan of General Development and the Specific Plan of Development that we submitted to County Planning in December, 2016, we requested the relocation of our warehouse and administrative offices to the north side of Harbin Springs Road, about a mile south of the Harbin Gate. At that time, the County asked for additional documentation, which we have now submitted, and which various County departments have begun to review. Their review process is expected to take five months or longer. Generally, any construction beyond what we have already started cannot take place until these plans are approved. However, we met with County Planning on March 24 and requested permission to rebuild Domes 1&2 on an expedited basis – without waiting for the full approval of our Updated Plan. The County approved this request, and Lars Langberg Architects is now developing designs for the Domes 1&2 rebuild. When this rebuild is complete, we will be able to open the Domes site and offer retreat rooms there to guests.
We also met with Lars to discuss various aspects of our future mainside rebuilding, including: site planning, design development, installation of infrastructure including water, sewer, electrical, gas line, IT fiber optic, phone line, the incorporation of green building concepts, and most significantly a design and construction schedule. We also discussed the researching and hiring of a contractor/builder for the project, who will provide input during the design phase. These discussions will continue.
Finally, we made significant headway with the plans for our water distribution system. Sauers Engineering, based in Nevada City, has, following our input, designed a preliminary plan for this system, including integration of water distribution to our future warehouse facilities. Harbin’s water rebuild team has studied Sauers’ design, and finds it both simple and elegant; and the State engineers who regulate Harbin’s water system now have this plan for review and input. There are multiple factors and agencies affecting the approval and implementation of this plan, including a “mitigation of negative impact” study by the County, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) approval, the addressing of Native American cultural resource issues, and right-of-way issues. It is likely to be a lengthy process – and because of current California Fire suppression requirements, our full mainside rebuild cannot begin until this new distribution system is completed and additional water storage requirements are met. We will actively pursue and monitor this process, and keep you posted.
In all, we continue to feel great about our progress and how far we have come. If all continues to go as planned, we look forward to opening by October 4 for day visits, soaking in our mainside pools, massages, food service, camping, and some retreat cabins.
– The Harbin Rebuild Team
With the exception of the last week of February, rain remained the dominant theme of the rebuild. In spite of the continuing weather challenges, however, we were able to complete a very important aspect of the concrete work around the pools: the foundations for the retaining walls, and concrete for the ADA elevator. We are now making progress towards completing the retaining walls themselves. Once they are poured and cured, we can move on to completing the new, ADA-compliant decking.
Another significant development since the last update was our meeting with County Planning and our District 1 Supervisor, Moke Simon. In this meeting, Moke expressed his unqualified support for Harbin Springs, and we learned that the County has changed Harbin’s status to “Expedited Rebuild”. This is great news, and we give heartfelt thanks to Moke. Based on our now-expedited status, County Planning has given us the go-ahead for our 13 Cottage Grove Cabins. We had already been working on this project for several months, and had decided to do it as modular construction in an off-site factory. We signed an agreement with Pre Fab Mods, and placed an order for construction. These cabins are now expected to be completed and transported to the Grove site by June 1, 2017. Installation of these cabins will allow us to offer not only day visits and camping during Phase 1, but comfortable overnight retreat rooms as well.
The work on the Hot Pool Room roof and sauna continues, and consensus among the staff is that both of these buildings look even better than before the fire. Work also continues on comfort stations #1&2; culvert replacements and road repairs; design for the water distribution system and Cerda line; electrical systems for Phase 1; and ongoing forest debris removal and significant tree planting. The additional items required by County Planning on our General and Specific Plans of Development have also been completed and submitted.
For Phases 2&3, we have changed our architect to Lars Langberg. Lars is located in Sebastopol, California, and has done excellent work with us in the past. In our view, his smaller firm, located closer to Middletown, is a better working and economic fit.
Overall, with the completion of the retaining wall foundation and our progress on the retaining wall forms and our progress on several other projects, it feels to us like we have turned an important corner on our Phase 1 rebuild. We are optimistic!
– The Harbin Rebuild Team
Rain has been the most notable element affecting the rebuild in the last several weeks. As we described in some of our recent posts, progress on the rebuild and consequential timing of our re-opening will depend on having decent weather.
January’s first major storm was significant. It created big slides, road and driveway washouts, and flooding. The vegetation changes and necessary clearing from the 2015 Valley Fire have left significant changes to the soil conditions. With significant loss of vegetation, including trees and bushes, the soil is easily eroded, creating slides, and it washes out into streams, creating blockages, flooding, and more slides.
Fortunately, all the rain-related events from these past storms were manageable. A substantial washout in the driveway from the gazebo to the pool area, caused by recent excavation for installation of a storm water overflow channel, has been completely repaired. Other washouts are currently under repair, or have their repairs pending dryer weather. The silver lining of this storm report is that all work critical to our Phase 1 opening remains intact, and suffered no significant adverse effects.
Our next critical rebuild project is the retaining wall at the former site of Redwood. Rainy weather is, again, the most significant unknown impacting all construction for the next 1-2 months, including this important wall. Once this wall is completed, we’ll then be able to proceed with several important sub projects, including: construction of an ADA elevator, installation of pool-area utilities, construction of the lower sundeck and ADA parking, and the leveling of pool-area concrete decking for ADA compliance.
In addition to the above new projects, our work continues on several ongoing projects, including the hot pool roof, sauna, and a storage area above the pump house. We are continuing to put together information for our county Planning Division on Harbin’s Updated General Plan of Development, our Specific Plan of Development for the warehouse area, and our work with Sauers Engineering on Harbin’s water distribution system. We are also working with our architects on creating color sketches for the General Plan, the Phase 2 schematic design, and Phase 3 conceptual design for various buildings.
We wish to reiterate that Harbin’s rebuild environment remains challenging. The most recent challenge has been the rainy weather conditions – adding to the other ongoing challenges of recovering from a catastrophic natural disaster that completely destroyed most of our infrastructure and buildings, of conforming to new and far more stringent building and ADA codes, and numerous other factors. Our mantra for this season is “patience, persistence, and resilience.”
– The Harbin Rebuild Team
We have very good news – all the required building permits for phase 1 were issued by the county. We have started to create timelines for completion of Phase 1 with the consideration that since much of the construction is outdoors, it will require decent weather and timelines cannot be precise as we are amidst the rainy season. Our rough guess and barring some unforeseen circumstances puts the Phase 1 opening sometimes in the mid to late spring.
Presently work continues on the hot pool roof, sauna, comfort stations, storm water pipes, pool equipment, electrical for Phase 1, the water system for phase 1 and rerouting the culvert. Please be aware all infrastructure was completely destroyed and is being rebuilt from scratch. Other ongoing work includes bio-mass removal from the fire (dead trees) and reforestation.
The next critical work is the retaining wall at the old Redwood, weather permitting. Completion of this wall will allow the construction of an elevator, installation of pool area utilities, lowering the sundeck, ADA parking and leveling the pool concrete decking for ADA compliance. These are only some of the important sub projects.
After meeting with three engineering firms we have picked Sauers Engineering from Nevada City to devise a new water distribution and storage system (to meet the fire department’s new requirements) with possible lead into the future water line from our Cerda property in Middletown.
Preparation continues for interim structures that include a Health Services modular building for massage. (This building has been delivered and installed but still needs a considerable amount of work to get it ready for occupancy), a portable restaurant trailer, a coffee trailer and pavilions.
Critical to future phases are updating our General Plan of Development and the General Plan Amendment Application to include 19276 Harbin Springs Road in our general plan, where the future Warehouse/Maintenance Offices will be located. This was submitted to Lake County Planning last week.
We will keep you informed on Phase 1 opening as we develop more accurate information.
Detailed below is a partial list of the many projects in which we are engaged. As imagined, these items are subject to change, however this list provides a good indicator of the scope of our work.
- Additional pump room
- Hot pool walls & roof rebuild
- Gate rebuild
- Sauna room rebuild and roof
- Rebuild ADA compliant comforts stations 1 & 2
- Build ADA compliant bathroom – old resident parking lot
- Warm pool ADA compliant outside showers
- New ADA hot pool planning and build
- Retaining walls north side of heart & swimming pool
- New Watsu® pool at La Sirena site
- New retaining wall, redirect Village Path entry to the mainside
- Mainside concrete channel drainage
- New retaining wall back of the Old Redwood
- Pool area utilities
- Deck, ADA parking & a lift at Old Redwood
- Pool concrete decking leveling and path of travel
- Interim health services, ADA parking and path of travel
- Health services, interim modular building & ADA parking and path of travel
- Coffee shop, ADA parking and path of travel
- Food services facilities – commercial kitchen, pavilion, paving and path of travel
- Sewer line – further testing
- Harbin water system rebuild
- Pool pump room plumbing and equipment plans and rebuild
- Pools (mainside) restoration
- Electrical rebuild to the pools
- Camping platforms, bridge and safety
- Roads by village trail for debris removal
- More forest debris removal
- Safety railings around the pool area
- Safety mainside
Phased Rebuilding Report
Ground Survey and Phase 1 pool area plans: In late May our ground survey of the Mainside pool area was completed. Both the architects and engineers are dependent on the information in the ground study to base their drawings and plans. At this juncture we believe that we will have finished plans for many of the pool area fixtures (new retaining wall, ADA parking area and lift, new sundeck, storm drainage channels, raised pool decking and more…) by the end of July and will be ready for submission to the county planning commission. These plans are critical for Phase 1 opening this fall.
Master Site Plan: The master site plan, which illustrates the layout of the completed rebuild project, is in its final stages of completion. The image on this page is a near to finished rendition of what we believe Harbin will look like once all the building is done. Not pictured in this drawing are two additional pools in the pool area (a new hot pool and a new Watsu pool). Also not pictured is a new meditation Temple. We are still in the process of locating the perfect temple site. (Click here to enlarge the site plan.)
Biomass Removal: Our crews are diligently working to relocate the staggering amount of fallen and damaged trees on and above the Mainside area. This process will most likely continue well past our Phase 1 opening to help ensure that the grounds are safe. To aid in this project we will be widening the Village trail so that larger vehicles can access the heavily wooded areas near the pools.
Massive to-do list: There are literally dozens of major projects to be completed before Phase 1 opening. Some of the items below are in process and in various states of production. Here are just a few of the many tasks we must be complete before soaking can commence:
1. Rebuild hot pool building walls and roof
2. Rebuild Gatehouse
3. Rebuild Sauna Room and roof
4. Build ADA compliant bathroom
5. Construct new Watsu pool
6. Construct additional hot pool
7. Install new retaining wall behind old massage building
8. Install ADA Parking and Lift near pools
9. Rebuild Harbin water system
10. Install safety railing around the pool area
Phased Rebuilding Report
Since the Valley Fire swept through Harbin Hot Springs on September 12, our objective has been to reopen our retreat center to guests as quickly, safely and responsibly as possible. Due to the extent of the damages, this is not a simple renovation or restoration project. Instead the years of work ahead of us require a systematic, conscious approach to planning, design and construction.
Because a rebuilding project of this scale can be expected to span multiple years, we are choosing to use a phased approach to opening and developing the area. This will allow us to make the beloved spring pools available to residents and visitors as soon as possible, while transitioning from rudimentary to temporary to permanent facilities over time.
Phase I: Day Visits & Camping
Completion of this phase will require rebuilding of pool filtration and equipment system, water system, electrical system to the pools, new retaining walls, new drainage and storm channels, new concrete pool decking, a new hot pool, and an add-on to the pump room. All existing facilities will be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Temporary support facilities will include a reception area, food service area, massage area, changing area and bathrooms, but guests must expect to “rough it” compared to the Harbin of recent years.
Projected Timeline: All debris from structural fires needed to be removed before this phase could begin. Phase I will progress from now through late Summer or Fall 2016.
Phase II: Basic Accommodations & Facilities
While day visitors and campers have access to the pools, we will begin rebuilding select buildings that were destroyed in the fire, including twelve Grove Cottages for overnight guests, and a replacement structure for Domes 1 & 2. A pool-area dressing room will be added on mainside, as will a camping-area pool complex with a guest kitchen and small grocery/market.
Construction away from the pool area will allow us to prepare mainside sites for the final phase of development. That said, guests will need to become accustomed to construction activity, as it will be a year-round effort.
Projected Timeline: Planning has begun for this phase, so details will be released by late summer 2016. Construction is expected to begin Fall 2016, with completion sometime in 2017.
Phase III: Return to Full Operation
This phase will involve building mainside guest rooms, a restaurant, market, gathering/meditation spaces, and a large conference/workshop facility. Staff housing and administrative spaces will be built, while the water, sewer electrical, and telecommunications systems will be brought up to full operating capacity. This will be an exciting time, with a lot of construction happening in the mainside area.
Projected Timeline: Planning has begun. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, and will extend into 2019 and beyond.
Of course, the timeline and elements of these phases are very general estimates, as there are a staggering number of variables to consider for each project.
Our objective is to create a retreat center that is beautiful, environmentally responsible, and in alignment with the principles of our church and community. Rest assured that we will work in cooperation with our architects (Mithun), Lake County Community Development, structural engineers, civil engineers, the California Drinking Water Division, hydrologists, ADA consultants, and licensed contractors to assure that we meet county state and federal building codes and regulations.
We will make every attempt to keep you informed about our plans, and will provide progress reports whenever possible.
With more than 100 separate sites requiring clearing, the clean-up process involved extensive planning and coordination with local, state and federal agencies. A professional FEEMA-approved firm was contracted to safely remove and responsibly dispose of structural debris. The majority of work was completed by mid-February, allowing our staff to begin the planning and restoration phases. Post-Cleanup Photos
About 95% of all Harbin-owned structures were destroyed by the Valley Fire. Only a few guest buildings (Domes 3-5, Grove Cottages 1-2, Comfort Stations 1-3, the Garden Barn and, ironically, the smoking deck) were left intact. All workshop buildings and resident housing on property were leveled, as were two resident group homes in Middletown. Also, most of the structures on our Bar X and Diamond J (Oneness Institute) ranches were burned.
Access & Utilities
Road access improved once a temporary railroad-type bridge was installed by the county on Harbin Springs Road. Electrical and phone wiring is largely gone, and must be replaced. An intermediate review of the drinking water system showed substantial damage to the pipes, which will need to be repaired before the water treatment plant can be tested. A preliminary test of the sewer system (in consultation with the Lake County Special Districts) showed functioning pumps, but an evaluation of the entire sewer line must be conducted.
The hot and cold springs are intact. The mainside pools, the Domes pools and the Conference Center pools were mostly undamaged, but the mainside pump house plumbing and equipment sustained extensive damage. Restoration of electricity to the pool area is a high priority, but must wait until the mainside area clean-up is complete.
We do not have an official assessment of acres burned, but we would not be surprised if we have lost more than half of our trees. The meadow and fire circle area was mostly spared from scaring, but surrounding slopes have large sections that appear quite barren. It may take a few years to determine if some of the scorched trees will fully recover, so tree removal is being limited to those that are deemed hazardous to humans, or might cause problems with the watershed.
Finance & Insurance
Professional cleanup of the fire debris – an enormously complex undertaking – was largely covered by federal funds. We are still working with our insurance companies to determine the extent of our policy benefits, but realize that even the most generous payout will not come close to covering the extensive losses. That said, we are able to meet our ongoing financial obligations, and are actively formulating a plan for rebuilding.