Fire is a natural and integral part of California’s ecosystems. But when we build our homes deep into wildfire prone areas, we run the risk of losing lives and property. That’s why it’s essential that we limit development in fire prone areas and protect the places that are already developed.
California created its State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations in 1991 in response to a series of deadly wildfires. They were designed to ensure that new development had safe evacuation routes and could be accessed by firefighters. In the State’s opinion, it was better to pay the upfront cost of protecting these communities while they were being built then risk having them burn down.
But, California’s developers and realtors disagree. They think that these safety regulations are overly restrictive and are costing them too much money. That’s why they have been lobbying the Board of Forestry (BOF) to relax these fire safety regulations. And lo and behold, the BOF has bowed to developer interests over the concerns of the people charged with defending these new developments from wildfire.
That’s right, in a recent letter 21 senior fire professionals wrote the BOF begging BOF not to relax the regulations. To quote the fire professionals’ letter: “For the first time ever however, we cannot support your proposal knowing that it reduces safety standards on existing roads and will likely result in the death of firefighters and civilians.” The new draft relaxed safety regulations would allow developers to construct new development on narrower roads that reach further into undeveloped areas making these developments harder to evacuate and more difficult to defend.
It’s not solely out of concern for human safety that EPIC opposes these new relaxed regulations. These developer and realtor supported regulations will make it cheaper to construct new greenfield development in previously undeveloped areas. Building deeper into undeveloped areas removes wildlife habitat, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and adds to the sprawl that has overtaken much of our State. The old regulations were a win-win that both protected human and non-human life.
Comments are open regarding this policy until January 19th. Let the Board of Forestry know that you oppose their new relaxed minimum fire safe regulations!