The San Rafael City Council recently put forth a draft of their proposed “Wildfire Prevention and Protection Action Plan”, a comprehensive update to city regulations aimed at reducing the impact and spread of future wildfires. The plan is far-reaching, setting out regulations for everything from definitions for ignition zones, a broadening of the existing ban on highly flammable vegetation and tightening defensible space rules. Overall, the plan would update the city’s code and policies with 37 recommended objectives.
Proposed changes include:
- Requiring every property owner to maintain defensible space
- Establishing house-out ignition zone standards up to and beyond 30 feet
- Eliminate shake and wooden roofs by 2029
- Vegetation Management Plans (VMPs) required at the point-of-sale
- Expand goat grazing
- Increase police ranger staffing
- Update existing wildland-urban interface maps
- Measures to prevent illegal parking and allow emergency vehicle access
While MAR commends the city council for working on a much-needed update to the city’s regulations in the wake of the devastating recent wildfires, nevertheless we are concerned about the impact that some of the proposals will have on property owner. We are monitoring the proceedings at city hall to ensure that the new regulations do not place an undue burden on homeowners.
What are MAR’s concerns?
MAR is particularly concerned about item 27, Vegetation management plans (VMPs) at the point-of-sale. MAR believes that public safety programs for the good of the entire community should not rely on random home sales, and, furthermore, that people purchasing or selling a home should not be specifically singled out.
Based on our calculations of turnover of homes via sales, we estimate that it would take over 40 years to complete the program for all homes. Adding additional regulations at point-of-sale can impede real estate transactions and make it harder for growing families or empty nesters to find the home that they need. Instead, MAR suggests a targeted, prioritized system of enacting VMPs based on highest risk rather than singling out random homeowners who have decided to sell their home.
What is MAR doing?
MAR is actively monitoring the proceedings and is acting as your advocate at city hall by meeting with San Rafael city officials to express these concerns. Our goal is to work collaboratively on a way to keep the community safe while balancing the needs of homeowners.
The San Rafael City Council and staff will be taking input on the draft fire regulations and will consider adopting a final draft of the wildfire prevention plan in March.
If you are interested in learning more about the plan, watching a video presentation to the City Council, or providing feedback to San Rafael City Council and staff, click HERE.
If you are interested in learning more about MAR’s Government Affairs and advocacy, please reach out to MAR CEO Romeo Arrieta or MAR Government Affairs Committee Chair Scott Pinsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)