Sen. Jackson’s bill covers risk reduction
Senate Bill 182, a wildfire risk reduction bill authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), has made its way to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has until the end of this month to act on it.
Sen. Jackson’s bill is accompanied by two other fire-related bills, Assembly Bills 3164 and 3074 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).
In a conference call on Wednesday, Sen. Jackson remarked that it is “urgent” for the state to enact the bill as a measure to mitigate the risk of damage caused by wildfires.
Though California is currently in the midst of an especially destructive and deadly wildfire season, Sen. Jackson said that it is “not an anomaly.”
“This is part of a trend in our state of more catastrophic wildfires that burn larger areas and cause more damage,” she stated.
Sen. Jackson noted that the housing crisis has driven California residents to settle in fire-prone areas even as wildfire risk increases.
She explained that situation demands a change in “how we plan and build communities in very high-risk fire severity zones.”
SB 182 aims to minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire damage to fire-prone communities by requiring developments in those areas be built with fire mitigation in mind. The bill’s wildfire risk reduction measures include retrofitting at-risk structures, augmenting local planning requirements toward minimizing fire risk and reducing development pressures in high-risk fire areas.
Sen. Jackson said that while some California communities have enacted measures along these lines, it’s high time that the state as a whole had such guidelines.
“We are sorely lacking a consistent, statewide, scientifically-based effort and standards, and that is the critical piece that this bill brings to the table,” she said.
Under SB182, new developments in high-risk areas would be built according to new wildfire risk reduction standards established by the state fire marshal.
Those standards would include evacuation routes, defensible space for homes and communities, and sufficient availability of water and fire response.
The bill would also prohibit cities and counties from approving new construction unless it meets required wildfire risk reduction guidelines.
“It is through strong statewide standards that we can consistently build as safely as possible throughout the state,” Sen. Jackson said.