Category Archives: Firma News

Information about Firma Design Group. Recent projects, pictures, portfolio.

Welcome Tanisha Larsen

Join Firma Design Group in welcoming Tanisha Larsen, our temporary office assistant.

Tanisha  graduated from Sonoma State University.  We are  excited to welcome her.  Get to know Tanisha by her answers to a few questions, below.

What were you doing before coming to FDG?

Before coming to work with FDG I was helping to manage a small advanced skin care salon in Santa Rosa as well as coaching gymnastics.

What interested you in coming to FDG?

I was seeking a temporary position to find where my professional interests are and I thought it would be fun and a good fit to work in an office environment with architects since I grew up in a family of architects and general contractors.

What is your background/education?

I graduated last year, 2017, from Sonoma State University with a business administration degree with a concentration in Management and Wine Business Strategies. I’ve worked in a combination of places from personal training, group fitness, and coaching to administrative assistance. I really enjoy creating and editing work with Microsoft Office and Google Drive.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy?

Outside of work I enjoy hiking with my German Shepard, Marley, in different places all over Sonoma County, my favorite place to hike so far is Taylor Mountain because of the cows. Marley, on the other hand, isn’t sure if she wants to be friend or foe with the cows.  I also enjoy gardening, kayaking, and taking Marley on adventures with me.

Tanisha can be reached at 707.792.1800, ext. 107 or by email at

Welcome Jim Del Carpio


Firma Design Group is pleased to introduce our newest Landscape Architect, Jim Del Carpio.

Wanting to relocate to Northern California, specifically Sonoma County, for some time he saw the job opportunity and wasted no time in taking it.  Jim brings to FDG 28 years of experience and a lot of enthusiasm.

We asked him some questions, read his answers below to get acquainted with him.

What led you in the direction of landscape architecture?

The idea and activity to design in and onto our physical environment.  As a young boy growing up next to an open, uncultivated three-acre field, I and my neighborhood friends would enjoy the constructing of bike/moto cross trails, jumps over water and “whoopee doos,” high berms in consecutive sequence and difficulty.  Furthermore, we would also dig up secret tunnels and dens, build secret forts and tree houses made out of locally found materials.

How long have you practiced Landscape Architecture/Design?

I have practiced landscape architecture and design from an early age of 12 years old, see above.  My formal education began in my late 20’s, early 30’s when I began to work with a landscape designer/builder.  I haven’t stopped since.

Where did you attend college?

Prior to transferring to Iowa State University, I nearly completed a two-year Associate of Arts degree in Landscape Design and Construction from South Seattle Community College.  I received my Bachelor’s degree with dual majors in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University.

Where did you begin your career?

My professional career started prior to attending Iowa State University.  For several years,  I worked and constructed residential landscapes with a landscape designer and builder in Tacoma, Washington.

Why Firma Design Group?

Along with wanting to relocate here, I was drawn in by Firma’s diverse portfolio and services they offer to the community, with this I had no question as to whether or not I wanted this job.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy seeking and discovering new landscape (environmental) areas, the history, culture and recreation opportunities.  When not actively involved in outside activity I like to listen to music and lounge around the house.  I like to travel and would like to participate in adventure travel, preferably with my girlfriend.

Jim can be reached at 707.792.1800, ext. 108 or by email

Donald Fernandez


Firma Design Group is excited to introduce Donald Fernandez, our newest AutoCAD Technician.

Donald comes to FDG after interning and working with the City of Willits, Par Electric and with several Companies in Southern California.

Get to know Donald by reading his answers to a few questions, below.

Where did you get your education?

I received both my Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Aided Drafting from ITT Technical Institute along with my Certificate as a Civil Engineer Technician from Santa Rosa Junior College.

Have you worked in this field prior to joining FDG?

I have interned with the City of Willits focusing on Utility Surveying.   While working with Par Electric, Southern California Edison, County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Water District I was working on utility layouts and configurations.

What drew you to FDG?

I felt strongly that I could hone my knowledge and skills as a Civil Engineer Technician working for and with Firma Design.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a fisherman at heart, bass fishing, mostly.  I enjoy target shooting and designing prototypes for fishing equipment, R/C cars and many other types of hobbies in which I can make or design prototypes.

Donald can be reached by calling (707) 792-1800, ext. 109 or by email –



We are excited to be an exhibitor at this year’s Expo, a FREE EVENT for North Bay Fire Communities.

Going green is beneficial for our Planet, County and all of us, come learn why.

Friday, February 23rd at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building

1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa

10 a.m. – 7 p.m.   ~  60+ Exhibitors will be in attendance.

There will be morning seminars on why it’s best to go greenSeminars covering many topics which include  energy-efficient Zero Net Energy Residences, financing green buildings, adding granny units, fire-resistant construction and sustainable materials, rooftop solar systems, defensible, drought tolerant landscapes, and much more.

Come meet and ask the professionals for advice and check out all the exhibits.

Resilient, Affordable Rebuilding and Landscaping Options

To connect to the Expo’s website, click here.



Unified Wine & Grape Symposium


The largest wine and grape symposium in the nation is taking place this week in Sacramento.  Our Mike Cook, Vice President/CFO, is in attendance.

The Symposium provides attendees direct access to the latest information they need to remain competitive along with disaster preparedness and recovery.

The wine industry faced unprecedented hurdles in 2017, from drought, to heavy rain and most recently, the wildfires.  The symposium is addressing these issues with many scheduled sessions on topics to hear about the best practices, trends, products and the issues affecting the industry today to better plan for the future.

Gina Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery opened the symposium as the Keynote speaker.  And, with over 650 vendors displaying their products and services this year’s symposium is sure to serve as a clearinghouse of information.

To read more, click here

The Rain is Upon Us

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We can all be prepared to lessen the danger and damage of potential flash floods, debris flows and mudslides as we have seen occur in Southern California.

Many of our local, state, federal agencies along with non-profits have been hard at work to protect our watershed and working hard to prevent floods, mudslides, and debris flow here in Santa Rosa and the entire County.  As we have all witnessed these preventative steps have helped greatly.

The fires scarred our landscape creating a waxy coating leaving the ground more vulnerable to erosion due to the fact that the burnt upper layers of soil repel water, which accumulates rapidly and flows with a strong intensity lending itself to picking up sediment, boulders, trees and other debris that creates a bigger punch than just mud.  These potential hazards will stick around for a few years.  With this in mind, along with the preventative steps being taken, residents need to implement erosion-control measures on their property.

A professional can assist you in assessing your property and what needs to be done.  Cleaning your property of burnt trees,  plants and other matter may not be a good solution because some of this debris may act as protection from wind and water erosion and slows the water runoff.  However, clearing debris from nearby streams, storm drains and drainages is necessary to keep these channels clear.


It’s important to hire and/or consult with a licensed civil engineer with erosion and sediment control experience along with design, installation and maintenance experience.

A long-term maintenance plan is needed.  One of the main reasons recommended treatment practices fail is the lack of long-term maintenance by the landowner or responsible party.

To stay up to date click here,

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On the fence about Rebuilding – or Not?

There’s help!

Sonoma County is a beautiful place to live and I believe will rise to new heights through this rebuild.  I have talked to many who have lost everything and now I am seeing the for-sale signs and it saddens me.  We don’t want to lose our fellow Santa Rosan’s.  “The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are stronger in the broken Places,” Ernest Hemingway


Hopefully, with our help and the help and knowledge of AIA California Council, The American Institute of Architects new website,, you will decide to rebuild and stay.

By clicking on the link above you will find a wealth of information on Rebuilding, Homeowner Insurance Tools, Insurance Guidebook, Disaster Assistance (State & Federal) and Questions and Answers for fire survivors.

Not only does this website assist with the after effects it will help all of us consider preparedness options in case of wildfire, earthquakes and other natural disasters in the future.


Welcome Alison!

AlisonFirma Design Group would like to introduce you to Alison Brown.

Alison will be our Office Manager while Nicole is out on maternity leave.  Alison comes to FDG with many years experience in Sales and Office Administration.

Outside of work, Alison enjoys spending time with her 3 grandchildren, her  family along with her dog, Max.  She knits and enjoys attending live music events in beautiful Sonoma County.

Alison can be reached at 707.792.1800, ext. 116 or by email at



HOPE from the Ashes

Affordable housing in Sonoma County has been a problem for some time, now after the fire it has reached crisis level.  Our County is Strong and with fantastic programs like Habitat for Humanity we can start to rebuild and get our citizens housed and remaining in Sonoma County.

Habitat for Humanity (H4H) has been in Sonoma County since 1984 and going strong.  H4H has restored existing properties and built new homes from the ground up, throughout the County for low-income families to help with stable housing.  They have a few underway here in Santa Rosa and they are working on 18 more homes across Sonoma County.

After the wildfires, which destroyed 5,130 homes across Sonoma County with over 1,000 of those being in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, H4H has been working on ways to house our residents.  They are looking into using granny or accessory units to house displaced homeowners during the rebuilding and has pledged to rebuild 600 homes lost in the fires.

Along with H4H, the City Council has been hard at work and thinking outside the box.  As of December 8th, 2017, the council approved a series of updates regarding, “accessory dwelling unit” rules in an effort to make the requirements of building granny units easier and much cheaper for homeowners to be rented to fire victims.  Yes, the City has made it clear that this is being done to create housing for fire victims – NOT lodging for visitors.  There will be requirements, like homeowners must rent granny units out for no less than 30 days.

To keep up with the latest developments, Click here,
and/or here,

Firma Design Group is a strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity.


Rebuilding and Landscaping

Landscaping is a vital part of our rebuilding process.

One very important aspect to rebuilding a stronger and safer city isCAPoppy for businesses and homeowners to landscape with native plants and trees which are less flammable  and keep up with proper maintenance which will reduce the chance of a fire spreading.

With this in mind, along with the knowledge that all plants can burn with enough heat, our professional landscape architects and designers can plan a more fire-resistant and beautiful landscape by planting fire-resistant, native plants which don’t accumulate dead wood, leaves, stems and are free of flammable oils keeping our properties safer.

Maple AcerOver the years, we have inadvertantly allowed our natural landscape of perennial grasses and annual wildflowers to give way to non-native, flammable grasses.   This combined with Northern California’s weather, dry conditions, relatively low humidity and winds which are condusive to fire, this non-native growth lends itself to allow fires to spread rapidly.  The fires then destroy seedbanks, young trees and shrubs before they are old enough to set seed which leads the landscape to convert to flammable grasslands.  These seedbanks allow for soft, new growth of native plants which provide food for our wildlife and with the lack of competition from shrubs, trees our annual wildflowers will grow and protect.

Along with planting, firescaping is of the utmost importance.Fire-safe garden  Firescaping is creating open space between plants by integrating hardscape elements for plant separation, such as flagstone, decomposed granite, rock walls, water features and other nonflammable elements, all of which lends itself to a beautiful and somewhat safer landscape.  Preventative maintenance of your landscape , pruning, weed control and sufficient irrigation also plays a vital role.

Give our Landscape Architects a call at 707.792.1800.