CWPP Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a CWPP?
- A Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a community-based plan focused on identifying and addressing local hazards and risks from wildfire. CWPPs are authorized and defined in Title I of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), passed by Congress in 2003 (www.fs.fed.us/projects/hfi/field-guide/web/page07.php).
- A CWPP determines what is at risk and provides a roadmap of actions for a community to address the wildfire threat. A CWPP includes, at a minimum, the following 3 central components
- Collaboration - A CWPP must be collaboratively developed. Local and state officials must meaningfully involve nongovernmental stakeholders and federal agencies that manage land in the vicinity of the community.
- Prioritized Fuel Reduction - A CWPP must identify and prioritize areas for hazardous fuel-reduction treatments and recommend the types and methods of treatment that, if completed, would reduce the risk to the community.
- Treatment of Structural Ignitability - A CWPP must recommend measures that homeowners and communities can take to reduce the ignitability of structures throughout the plan area.
What is the difference between the Wildland Fire Plan and a CWPP?
- Santa Barbara’s Wildland Fire Plan is our Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The concept of a CWPP was relatively new and mostly unknown at the time the 2004 Wildland Fire Plan was adopted. Santa Barbara City was a leader in the early recognition of the need to have a community based plan to protect our citizens and valuable resources from wildfire. At the time the 2004 Wildland Fire Plan was adopted, Community Wildfire Protection Plans were not well known and the terminology had not been widely recognized. Over the past 15 years CWPP’s have become commonplace and are recognized across the nation. In 2011, City Council formally recognized the 2004 Wildland Fire Plan as our City’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
What a CWPP is not:
Why update the CWPP?
- To re-assesses wildfire hazards and risks to the community.
- To guide the City in prioritizing projects and locations where the City can take action to reduce the wildfire threat in ways that are reasonable and acceptable to the community’s way of life.
- To open up funding opportunities to implement the plan.
- To define values/assets and how to enhance protection to those assets in case of a wildfire.Assets at risk are unique to each community and can include homes, roads, other structures and infrastructure, wildlife habitat, or even views.
- To build and strengthen relationships among agencies and provide visibility for organizations and individuals.
- To identify new and increase awareness of existing community-level projects, e.g.: clearing vegetation from major evacuation routes; creating community chipping programs; and developing plans for fuel hazard reduction treatments around a community.
How will the CWPP address Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?
- The CWPP’s updated wildfire hazard data will allow staff and decision-makers to make informed policy recommendations and decisions about enhanced development standards or prohibitions of ADUs in High Fire Hazard Areas.
How will the CWPP be used?
- To educate Santa Barbara residents about current wildfire risks and steps that can be taken to reduce those risks.
- To develop future policies and ordinances for consideration by Santa Barbara City Council as appropriate.
- To take action to implement community hazard reduction projects individually or collectively as appropriate.
- To apply for grants and other funding sources to implement hazard reduction projects.
What is the process for developing and implementing the CWPP?
- The Draft CWPP will be developed using the current Wildland Fire Plan, updated modeling and mapping of current wildfire risk, and community input.
- The Draft CWPP will then be revived by the public, approved by the Planning Commission and Adopted by the City Council.
- The Final CWPP will then be used to improve safety through community projects, policies, and funding programs.
What is the difference between a High Fire Hazard Area and a High Fire Hazard Zone?
- A High Fire Hazard Area (HFHA) is identified as a location that has at increased risk for wildland fire. Due to a number of variables identified throughout Santa Barbara City’s HFHA, our existing Community Wildfire Protection Plan recognizes four separate zones (High Fire Hazard Zones) within the HFHA. Extreme Foothill, Foothill, Coastal and Coastal Interior Zones. Each zone has specific requirements, such as varying distances to meet defensible space requirements.
My property is located within the High Fire Hazard Area. Does that mean that I am in the Wildland Fire Suppression Assessment District?
- The Wildland Fire Suppression Assessment District (WFSAD) provides services specific to residents who reside within the district boundaries. Those services include vegetation road clearance, defensible space chipping, vegetation management projects and voluntary defensible space evaluation. The WFSAD includes both the Foothill and Extreme Foothill HFHA Zones as outlined in the 2004 City of Santa Barbara Wildland Fire Plan. Since the establishment of the WFSAD in 2006, the High Fire Hazard Area expanded within the Foothill Zone to include multiple properties west of East Los Olivos Street surrounding the Santa Barbara Mission. These parcels are not included in the district since they were designated to be within the Foothill Zone after the establishment of the WFSAD. The Coastal and Coastal Interior Zones are not included in the WFSAD.
Will the CWPP affect my insurance rates?
- The CWPP will assess wildfire risk and better prepare communities and homeowners for wildfires given the current risk. Please contact your insurance provider for information about your rates.