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Supervisors Hear Report on Hazardous Vegetation Abatement Ordinance

July 12, 2012

At its regular meeting Tuesday in Auburn, the Placer County Board of Supervisors heard an update from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on the county’s hazardous vegetation abatement (HVA) ordinance. The Board also gave final approval to two projects to be funded from either the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 or the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

The HVA ordinance was instituted as a pilot program in 2008 by fire protection districts on the eastern side of the County in response to numerous wildfires occurring on and around Lake Tahoe. The ordinance only applies to adjoining parcels, on one of which is a habitable structure (an “improved” parcel), and on the other, there is no structure (an “unimproved” parcel). All habitable structures require 100 foot radius of defensible space, and if that radius cannot be met due to the structure’s proximity to the property line with an unimproved parcel, then the owner of the unimproved parcel must clear enough property to allow the full 100 foot clearance. The ordinance was extended to fire agencies in western Placer County in 2009.

An administrative remedy is also detailed in the ordinance should an unimproved parcel owner not comply. According to Placer County Fire Marshall Brad Harris, residents throughout the county have been responsive when asked to clear brush from their unimproved properties. Harris reported that, to date, there have been only eight properties that have been subjected to HVA ordinance enforcement and all of those properties were cleared without any further legal action.

“We have not had any enforcement actions,” said Harris. “We’ve had very good response from the people of Placer County.”

Inasmuch as there is cost involved in the HVA program, the ordinance will be brought to the Board of Supervisors in December, at which time the Board will decide whether to extend, cancel or change it.

Additional actions by the Board, Tuesday, included approving dedicated funding in the amount of $4,719 to update the County’s Biomass Strategic Plan. This action was taken after the requisite 45-day public comment period of which no public comments were received. Funding for the Biomass Strategic Plan update will come from Placer County's allocation from the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. The Board also approved the County’s allocation from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, totaling $100,972, to be used to fund several projects from the Firewise Communities program:

• Hiring of a Fire Mitigation Coordinator

• Providing Fire Safe Councils with a dedicated grant writer

• Supporting the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council “Project Canyon Safe”

• Providing outreach and public education materials for Fire Safe Councils

• Providing a part-time Firewise Communities Coordinator

The good news is that these projects have no impact on the County General Fund as all projects are supported by dedicated funding.