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CA Bill Would Make Building In High Fire Areas More Difficult

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Sacramento, CA — Legislation approved in a Senate committee would place new restrictions on housing developments in areas designated as being high fire risk.

For example, all new housing developments in fire prone areas would be required to have an enforcement program, and a funding mechanism to pay for it, to keep vegetation away from homes. In addition, a wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation plan would be required prior to developments being approved by local governments.

For larger projects, of nine or more homes, roads would have to be designed so that fire equipment, and potential evacuees, can safely get in and out during an emergency. An evacuation plan would also have to be developed, and sites identified where residents can shelter in place in the event of a wildfire.

Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month stated that he opposes banning development in high fire areas, noting that living close to forestland is part of the state’s “wild and pioneering spirit.” However, he has indicated general support for increased regulations. The bill passed in a Senate committee with an 8-3 vote. It is unclear if there is support in the full Senate and Assembly.

The Associated Press reports that the California Building Industry Association opposes the legislation, arguing that new homes are already built to more fire resistant standards, and older homes are those most at-risk of burning.

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