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Flame and Fortune in the American WestUrban Development, Environmental Change, and the Great Oakland Hills Fire$
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Gregory L. Simon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292802

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292802.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Dispatches from the Field

Dispatches from the Field

Win–Win Outcomes and the Limits of Post-Wildfire Mitigation

(p.149) 8 Dispatches from the Field
Flame and Fortune in the American West

Gregory L. Simon

University of California Press

This chapter uses radio communication transcripts from the Tunnel Fire to illuminate specific challenges experienced by residents and responders alike at the time of the event. Based on these first-hand accounts, several important issues emerge concerning water, road, and power infrastructure. A review of reconstruction efforts in each area of concern demonstrates that progress toward reconciliation has been mixed. Capital improvements were driven largely by private property considerations and residents seeking to leverage the disaster in pursuit of neighborhood enhancements and estate-based wealth accumulation. Upgrades to water and power line equipment were lobbied and partially paid for by residents who used their positions of privilege to engage in collectivized risk reduction. In these instances the community was willing and able to supplement beleaguered city budget capacities and help pay for municipal upgrades. This presented a win-win for residents and the city of Oakland alike. However, when private benefits were less evident (or simply not attainable)—as was the case with road-widening initiatives—residents were less apt to back such recovery efforts. As a result, the pursuit of win-win outcomes unraveled.

Keywords:   Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire, radio communication transcripts, urban wildfires, infrastructure, neighborhood enhancement, estate-based wealth accumulation, risk reduction, road-widening

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