Of the ABAG counties only Sonoma County is unique in that it wants to continue development, both residential and commercial, in the wildland-urban interface. Who is out of step in this scenario?
Board of Forestry Board members,
My wife and I were unable to successfully use the teleconferencing format during the April 7th and 8th hearings. We were able to listen but not to speak. Please accept this written document in lieu of a presentation since I was unable to contribute at either meeting after listening to the presentations from Sonoma County officials.
No member of the public has ever suggested that rural residents who have been burned out may not be allowed to rebuild unless they bring the SRA roads up to code. It is a preposterous suggestion and is disingenuous of County Counsel , Linda Schiltgen, to suggest that is our goal and that we are solely motivated because we want to prohibit the cultivation of cannabis. We are not asking that burned out homeowners or businesses have to upgrade the roads in order to rebuild. Counselor Schiltgen misunderstands our goal entirely.
To repeat: We have no objection to rebuilding homes or other structures after a fire, earthquake or other disaster. If Counselor Schiltgen does understand our goal, then I can only conclude she is simply employing a diversionary tactic from the question being put forward: should Sonoma County be allowed to continue new development (both commercial and residential) on pre-1991 unsafe roads? Steve Mosiurchak’s two examples showing how tough the County can sometimes be only demonstrate the arbitrary and capricious nature of his inspections. We have submitted other examples of permit approval on unsafe roads.
It is beyond comprehension and very disappointing that Sonoma County would want to pursue a course of action when 49 other counties in the state accept the state regs as written and at least 55 counties do not adopt Sonoma County’s approach to development in the wildland-urban interface. Only Sonoma wants to carve out an exception that allows for such new development.
To accept this diversionary argument from Ms. Schiltgen and conflate this simple issue into a statewide examination of the SRA roads is a waste of your valuable time and a diversion from the existing question put before you. Do not certify the Sonoma County regulation. Make the County abide by the State regs. Staffer Edith Hannigan very concisely covered the issue in her careful analysis. State law is adequate for other counties including Marin, Humboldt and Napa. Of the nine counties in the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), seven use the state regs. Sonoma and Napa have ordinances, but Napa doesn’t exempt pre-1991 roads. Of the ABAG counties only Sonoma County is unique in that it wants to continue development, both residential and commercial, in the wildland-urban interface. Who is out of step in this scenario?
Name withheld for privacy
Local policies pave way for more fires………”At least 55, and perhaps 57, of California’s 58 counties do NOT adopt Sonoma County’s approach to commercial development in the wildland-urban interface.”
WEBINAR MEETING: Notice and Agenda – Board of Forestry and Fire Protection
The certification of Sonoma County’s fire regulations is now on the Board of Forestry’s April Agenda. See attached. If you would like to “attend” via teleconferencing you can sign up on the link on page 5 that looks like this: the Board’s Website (http://bof.fire.ca.gov).
At the bottom of the BOF WEB page you can register for the April 7 Resource Committee meeting which begins at 8:30 am. You will receive an email confirmation with instructions on how to listen and/or speak, during the public comments section, etc. There is also another meeting the meeting the following day which requires a separate registration.
SRA Fire-Safe Regulations
Sonoma County is An Extreme Outlier
March 28, 2020
By letter dated February 17, we asked BOF staff to prepare a report comparing the scope and exclusion provisions of the CalFire Fire-Safe regulations for all 58 counties in California. We asked that the BOF identify any counties besides Sonoma County that approve commercial development in the wildland-urban interface with roads under twelve feet in width or on narrow dead-end roads that are a mile or more in length. We explained that this information will be helpful to board members, the public, and legislators in helping to make reasoned decisions.
The BOF has not shared any such report with us. On March 16, we filed a Public Records Act request asking for the names of each county that has requested certification of its fire ordinance.
We received a spreadsheet entitled “Fire Safe Regulations Certification Status” dated August 19, 2019. This spreadsheet indicates that of California’s 58 counties, nine had ordinances certified in recent years, although none have been certified for the 2020 regulations:
Forty-nine counties implement the CalFire Fire-Safe regulations without a county ordinance.
It would be beneficial if the BOF, whose staff have relevant knowledge and expertise, had analyzed the nine ordinances. In the absence of such an analysis, we have done so here.
Neither Del Norte County’s (Section 19.04.30 Scope), nor Humboldt County’s (Section 3111-3 Scope), nor Napa County’s (Road and Street Standards Section 2 Scope), nor Orange County’s (1270.02 Scope), nor San Diego County’s (Section 503 Fire Apparatus Access Roads), nor Tuolumne County’s (Chapter 15.20 Fire Safety Standards) contain any exceptions that would allow the county to ignore CalFire regulations for development on roads that existed before 1991 or 1992. We are unable to locate the pertinent regulations for Shasta County. The scope of San Bernardino County’s Fire Prevention Standards is ambiguous.
At least 55, and perhaps 57, of California’s 58 counties do NOT adopt Sonoma County’s approach to commercial development in the wildland-urban interface. Few, if any, other counties exclude the application of the CalFire Fire-Safe standards for development on roads that were existing before 1991 or 1992. Sonoma County sometimes asserts that the size of its county road system (1,378 miles) requires special treatment. However, counties with much larger systems accept CalFire regulations: Fresno (3,524 miles); Kern (3,324 miles); Los Angeles (3,219); Tulare (3,041 miles); and San Diego (1,933 miles). Sonoma County is truly an outlier, and its ordinance should not be certified.
From: Dias, Matt@BOF <Matt.Dias@bof.ca.gov> Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2020 3:59 PM To: Dias, Matt@BOF <Matt.Dias@bof.ca.gov> Subject: RE: Notice and Agenda – Board of Forestry and Fire Protection Good afternoon, Please see the attached Notice and Agenda for the coming April Board Meeting. In li…