CA Senate Approves Bill to Reduce Wildfire Risk
Source: Office of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
As California prepares for the next catastrophic wildfire season, legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to strengthen local planning requirements in high fire hazard areas and encourage local governments to pursue more fire-resistant and home hardening strategies in their communities passed off the Senate Floor on a 27 to 9 vote. The bill now moves to the Assembly.
Senate Bill 182 reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfire damage to fire prone communities by requiring strategic local planning for fixing existing at-risk structures; modifying local planning requirements to reduce fire risk through design; and reducing development pressure in high-fire risk areas without compromising on regional housing goals. Senate Bill 182:
- Conditions new construction in identified high fire risk areas upon cities and counties meeting specified Wildfire Risk Reduction Standards;
- Requires local jurisdictions to verify ongoing compliance with defensible space, vegetation management, and local fire plan/wildfire hazard mitigation plans, including documenting compliance for each impacted property at least every three years; and
- Directs counties, in tandem with updating their general plan safety element, to develop a comprehensive retrofit strategy for infrastructure vulnerable to wildfire within its jurisdiction.
Flying embers can destroy a home up to a mile away from a wildfire. Home hardening improvements make a home more resistant to wildfires by such actions as replacing a wood roof with fire-resistant materials such as composition, metal or tile, covering vent openings with mesh wire, installing dual-paned windows, and other efforts. Defensible space is the buffer between a building and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surrounds it.
“California lives and homes have been devastated by wildfires and the threat of more catastrophic wildfires continues to persist. The risk is simply too high to continue with business as usual in our state. SB 182 will ensure our communities are better prepared and more fire-resilient without sacrificing new home construction,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and State Senator representing the district impacted by the devastating 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent Debris Flow that killed 23 people.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.