Forest fire hazard inspections add to disclosures from home sellers

Natures Image landscapers Richard Aguirre (right) and Alberto Vargas prune invasive plants in August 2019 in Oro Canyon. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

By Breeana Greenberg, Independent Special

New state fire safety requirements for home sales came into effect on July 1.

A California assembly bill passed in 2019 requires properties sold in high fire risk areas to document that the property meets forest fire protection measures.

According to the bill of assembly, more than two million homes in California are located in areas of “high” or “very high” severity. According to a recent press release from the fire department, approximately 85% of Laguna Beach is in the “very high” area.

“It’s a very difficult situation for a city like Laguna Beach, where almost 90% of the city’s area is classified as a very high danger severity area, the highest forest fire risk classification, which is similar to the hazard classification of Paradise,[Calif”saidMattLawsonchairmanoftheemergencyanddisasterpreparednesscommittee[Californie»adéclaréMattLawsonprésidentducomitédepréparationauxsituationsd’urgenceetauxcatastrophes[Calif”saidMattLawsonchairoftheemergencyanddisasterpreparednesscommittee

Assembly Bill 38 noted the increased frequency and severity of forest fires. “Compared to 1986, wildfires in the western United States have occurred almost four times more often, burning more than six times the land area of ​​the country and lasting almost five times longer. “

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot echoed the growing risk of wildfires at a press conference in April in Shaver Lake.

“Consider the last wildfire season, five of the six largest wildfires in state history burned at the same time last summer, including the Creek Fire where we are today,” he said. said Crowfoot. “As we increase and continue to strengthen our response capacity through CAL FIRE and their partners, it is clear that much more needs to be done proactively and up front to reduce the risk of catastrophic forest fires. “

“Yes, we need to address the underlying causes of climate change problems, and we are committed,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at the April press conference. “And, yes, we need to do more about forest management, vegetation management, more prescribed burns, more work to harden our forests, our fuel cuts and our homes, and make defensible spaces, prepare and do our best to prevent it. ”

“We are seeing the impacts of wildfires,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. “We see it as we speak, there is a wildfire in San Clemente not far from here. Right now we have teams there, we have a team right now at Tumbleweed fire and Gorman. We participate in it all the time, and our goal here is to try to make our community as safe as possible. And that is the intention of our legislature with a lot of these bills and laws being put in place. But what’s difficult is when you have a lot of programs going on and you’re trying to take care of your community, it’s really trying to staff the staff appropriately and be prepared to take on these new tasks, and that’s what I find a little difficult with the implementation of some of these bills.

As of July 2, the Laguna Beach Fire Department began accepting requests from landowners to inspect the area between a structure and the flammable grass, trees or shrubs that surround it, known as defensible space name. The fire department explained in a June 28 memorandum that by cutting brush off homes and spacing shrubs and trees away from each other, homeowners can give firefighters enough space to work safely. safety during a forest fire.

The city has hired a new defensible space inspector, Justin Day, to perform property inspections. There will be a three month grace period during which the city will waive inspection fees. Starting in October, fees will need to be paid before scheduling an inspection.

“We intend to charge this fee for an inspector or part-time inspector to do this, so that we can track the volume and not hamper the progress of the sale and purchase of the home from the house. person, ”Garcia explained.

Laguna Beach real estate agent Chris Tebbutt encourages his clients to have their homes inspected as soon as possible. “This allows buyers to be more willing to buy a property knowing that it has been taken care of,” Tebbutt said. “Education is the key to this thing so that all homeowners realize this is a requirement, and that is in addition to the real estate report already required.”

“Because Laguna is in such a high fire zone and has had a history of catastrophic fires, it is clear that the town and our fire department are absolutely committed to continually learning from other similar areas such as Paradise. Said Tebbutt.

“In Laguna we have a very beautiful and unique community,” Garcia said. “Trying to put fire protection in place will maintain the aesthetic beauty of our communities, and that’s obviously a concern and a challenge. I believe that with our proposed defensible space plan, that is exactly what we are doing.

The fire department is currently following the CAL FIRE guidelines while working to create its own set of guidelines. There will be a public workshop at 6 p.m. on July 14 in the city council chamber where the fire department will present the fire prevention plan.

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