Emergency Amendments to SRA Fire-Safe Regulations, June 9-10 2020 BOF Meetings

Emergency Amendments to SRA Fire-Safe Regulations, June 9-10 2020 BOF Meetings

Can you drop them a line to express your concern for fire safe roads? Sample letter with point below…..

To: Board of Forestry <publiccomments@bof.ca.gov>, Edith Hannigan <edith.hannigan@BOF.ca.gov>
Subject: Emergency Amendments to SRA Fire-Safe Regulations, June 9-10 2020 BOF Meetings

Dear California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection,

On behalf of the almost 300 members of BV Ban, we offer the following comments on the June 9, 2020 amendments to the SRA Fire Safe Regulations. Our members live in Bennett Valley, Sonoma County, and are very familiar with our county’s policies with respect to development on long, narrow, dead-end roads.  Despite its assertions to the contrary, Sonoma County continues to routinely allow development on roads that are 8 feet wide, 10 feet wide, and 11-12 feet wide as well as development on narrow, dead-end narrow roads well over one mile in length. We think this is reckless and dangerous.

  1. We strongly support the policy of relaxing the regulations for the rebuilding of homes lost to wildfires as long as there are restrictions to preclude building a larger structure. This is a matter of simple fairness. The May 19, 2020 draft of the emergency rules included in § 1270.02(c) the phrase “or similar disaster” after wildfire.  We support allowing rebuilding after floods, earthquakes, or similar disasters. Parts of Sonoma County are flooded every few years. The northern extension of the Hayward Fault, the Rogers Fault, comes through Bennett Valley, and historically we have been more focused on recovering from an earthquake than a wildland fire. We think the approach in the May 19 proposal is the better policy.
  1. With regard to building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the board should include some minimum requirements for fire safe roads. Without statewide minimum requirements, counties such as Sonoma County will allow building ADUs on very long dead-end roads with very narrow lanes.  Such housing units will exacerbate the dangers for firefighters and evacuation issues for current residents. The Notice of Proposed Emergency Action justifies the emergency rule on five grounds:

•   Reduce fire severity and destruction in the wildland-urban interface.

•   Decrease losses of homes and structures to wildfire events.

•   Improve the safety of evacuation routes, particularly those relying on existing road networks.

•   Increase the amount of affordable and secure housing in the state and reduce housing costs generally.

•   Increase public safety.

Except for increasing the amount of affordable housing and reducing housing costs, all other justifications support requiring safe road access to the ADUs.  We urge you to require concurrent fire engine access and civilian evacuation for ADUs.