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AB-38 Fire safety: low-cost retrofits: Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan and Rebate Fund: regional capacity review.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 07/01/2019 02:00 PM
AB38:v92#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  July 01, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  June 18, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 16, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 30, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 10, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 21, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 38


Introduced by Assembly Member Wood
(Principal coauthor: Senator Stern)

December 03, 2018


An act to add Sections 1102.6f and 1102.19 to the Civil Code, to add Division 33 (commencing with Section 55500) to the Health and Safety Code, and to add Section 4123.7 to the Public Resources Code, relating to fire safety.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 38, as amended, Wood. Fire safety: low-cost retrofits: Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan and Rebate Fund: regional capacity review.
(1) Existing law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to designate specified areas as very high fire hazard severity zones.
This bill would require the Natural Resources Agency, by July 1, 2021, and in consultation with the State Fire Marshal and the Forest Management Task Force, to review the regional capacity of each county that contains a very high fire hazard severity zone to improve forest health, fire resilience, and safety, as specified. The bill would require the Natural Resources Agency to make the review publicly available on its internet website.
(2) Existing law requires the State Fire Marshal, by January 31, 2020, to develop a list of low-cost retrofits that provide for comprehensive site and structure fire risk reduction to protect structures from fires spreading from adjacent structures or vegetation and to protect vegetation from fires spreading from adjacent structures.
This bill, on or after January 1, 2021, would require the seller of any real property located in a high fire hazard severity zone to provide a prescribed disclosure notice to the buyer of information relating to fire hardening improvements on the property. The bill, on or after January 1, 2025, would require the disclosure notice to also include the State Fire Marshal’s list of low-cost retrofits and to disclose which listed retrofits, if any, have been completed during the time that the seller has owned the property. The bill would also require a seller who has obtained a specified final inspection report to provide to the buyer a copy of that report or information on where a copy may be obtained. The bill, on or after July 1, 2021, would require a seller of any real property located in a very high fire hazard severity zone to provide to the buyer a certificate stating that low-cost retrofits developed and listed by the State Fire Marshal have been undertaken on the building.
(3) Existing law authorizes local agencies, upon making specified findings, to provide low-interest loans to the owners of buildings within their jurisdiction for the purpose of making seismic safety upgrades to eligible buildings, as defined, to meet current earthquake safety codes. Existing law authorizes these local entities to issue bonds to finance these loans that are secured by a lien on the subject property.
This bill would establish the Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan and Rebate Fund in the State Treasury, as specified. Moneys in the fund would be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the California Statewide Communities Development Authority to provide financial assistance and rebates to owners of eligible buildings to pay for eligible costs of fire hardening, as specified. The bill would provide that financing under this program, along with other liens on the subject property, could not exceed 80% of the appraised value of the property. The bill would define terms for its purposes.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Climate change has resulted in higher year-long temperatures and increasing dry weather conditions in California, resulting in extended, sometimes multiyear, droughts; extended wildfire seasons throughout the year, with higher temperatures during dry season conditions; and impacts on vegetation wildfire fuel loads and increasing decay and loss of vegetation due to insect infestations and plant diseases.
(b) Wildfires have grown larger and have increased in intensity over the last several decades. As compared with 1986, wildfires in the western United States have occurred nearly four times more often, burning more than six times the land area and lasting almost five times as long. Through the end of the 2017 calendar year, 11 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in California have occurred in the last 10 years. The 2018 calendar year witnessed the most destructive wildfires in California history in terms of the loss of life and structures.
(c) In terms of the size of wildfires, in the last decade, enormous wildfires have consumed vast areas, including the 2013 Rim Fire impacting national park and national forest lands, the 2017 Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Santa Rosa wildfires, the 2017 Thomas Fire impacting 200,000 acres, and the 2018 Camp Fire.
(d) Wildfires, which have impacted occupied areas, have resulted in enormous human and financial costs, including the following:
(1) The 1991 Berkeley-Oakland Tunnel Fire, which resulted in 25 deaths, the loss of more than 3,000 homes, and a total financial loss of $1.5 billion in 1991 United States dollars.
(2) The 2003 San Diego Cedar Fire, which resulted in 15 deaths and the loss of 2,000 structures.
(3) The 2017 Tubbs Fire, which resulted in 22 deaths, the loss of 5,643 structures, and a total financial loss of approximately $1.3 billion in 2017 United States dollars.
(4) The 2017 Thomas Fire, which resulted in two deaths, the loss of more than 1,000 homes, and a total financial loss of approximately $2.2 billion in 2018 United States dollars.
(5) The 2018 Camp Fire, which resulted in 89 deaths, the loss of 18,804 structures, and at least $12.4 billion in 2018 United States dollars in insured losses.
(e) More than 2,000,000 California households, approximately one in four residential structures in California, are located within or in wildfire movement proximity of “high” or “very high” fire hazard severity zones identified on maps drawn by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Additionally, areas subject to seismic risks confront the likelihood that wildfires could result from downed power lines and ruptures of natural gas lines caused by earthquakes.
(f) There is a pressing need for wildfire prevention and minimization strategies, on an area-specific basis, that combine increased wildfire resistance within developed areas to minimize wildfire impacts with comprehensive vegetation management measures in wildlands to prevent or severely limit large-scale wildfires from developing and spreading as follows:
(1) Wildfire minimization programs. Developed areas need to carry out comprehensive urban vegetation management programs to reduce vegetation wildfire fuel loads within developed areas. Further, there is a need to provide funding for the hardening of homes and other structures to increase their resistance to wildfires.
(2) Wildfire prevention programs. Comprehensive wildlands vegetation management, responsive to the widely varying vegetation conditions throughout California, is required to reduce vegetation wildfire fuel loads, in relation to the flammability of different vegetation types, to the maximum extent feasible to prevent or severely limit the spread of wildfires.
(3) Wildfire response planning. Area-specific plans should include measures needed to include planning for safe wildlands access for firefighters to the maximum extent feasible.
(g) The diversity of vegetation and development patterns through the state necessitate a geographic approach to planning and implementing wildfire prevention and minimization strategies with fire prevention management agencies covering the geographic areas in which wildfires have or may occur.
(h) Local public agencies have made efforts to prevent wildfires, but, in many instances, lack the expertise, authority, or the financial resources to undertake or complete the tasks at hand.
(i) Wildfires do not respect jurisdictional boundaries or property lines.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1102.6f is added to the Civil Code, to read:

1102.6f.
 (a) On or after January 1, 2021, in addition to any other disclosure required pursuant to this article, the seller of any real property subject to this article that is located in a high fire hazard severity zone, as identified by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code or Article 9 (commencing with Section 4201) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, shall provide a disclosure notice to the buyer that includes the following information:
(1) A statement as follows: “Homes in high fire severity zones can be “hardened” to make them more fire resistant. Information on fire hardening, including current building standards and information on minimum annual vegetation management standards to protect homes from wildfires wildfires, can be obtained on the internet website http://www.readyforwildfire.org.”
(2) On or after July 1, 2025, a list of low-cost retrofits developed and listed pursuant to Section 51189 of the Government Code. The notice shall disclose which listed retrofits, if any, have been completed during the time that the seller has owned the property.
(3) A list of the following fire hardening improvements. The notice shall disclose which of the listed features, if any, exist on the home: home. For fire hardening improvements the seller has not completed during the time that the seller has owned the property, the seller shall disclose those improvements the seller is aware that the property has:
(A) Roof of asphalt composition, metal, or tile.
(B) Vents with metal mesh with openings no smaller than one-eighth inch and no larger than one-quarter inch.
(C) Vents in eaves and cornices with baffles designed to block embers.
(D) Enclosed eaves.
(E) Covered soffits.
(F) Exterior walls made of stucco, fiber cement wall siding, or fire-retardant treated wood.
(G) Decks and surfaces within 10 feet of the home made of fire-retardant treated wood or noncombustible materials such as concrete, stone, or brick.
(H) Rain gutters screened or enclosed to prevent accumulation of plant debris.
(I) Patio covers made of asphalt composition, metal, or tile.
(J) Chimney or stovepipe outlets shielded with metal screen with openings no smaller than three-eighths inch and no larger than one-half inch.
(K) Fences built or rebuilt using fire-retardant treated wood or noncombustible fence materials such as metal, stucco, or brick.
(b) If, pursuant to Section 51182 of the Government Code, a seller has obtained a final inspection report described in that section, the seller shall provide to the buyer a copy of that report or information on where a copy of the report may be obtained.

SEC. 3.

 Section 1102.19 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

1102.19.
 On and after July 1, 2021, a seller of a real property subject to this article that is located in a very high fire hazard severity zone, as identified by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code or Article 9 (commencing with Section 4201) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, shall provide to the buyer a certificate stating that the property is in compliance with Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code or local vegetation management ordinances.

SEC. 4.

 Division 33 (commencing with Section 55500) is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

DIVISION 33. Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan and Rebate Fund

55500.
 As used in this division:
(a) “Eligible building” means a building existing as of January 1, 2020, and containing not more than one unit that is intended for human habitation located within a very high fire hazard severity zone, as identified by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code or Article 9 (commencing with Section 4201) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code.
(b) “Eligible costs” means all costs, including costs of design, preparation, and inspection, incurred in the following:
(1) Replacing or installing the following:
(A) Ember-resistant vents.
(B) Fire-resistant roofing.
(C) Fire-resistant siding.
(D) Fire-resistant eaves.
(E) Fire-resistant soffits.
(F) Fire-resistant windows.
(G) Fuel cells or other solar storage systems, excluding gasoline-powered or diesel-powered equipment.
(2) Establishing a noncombustible zone of five feet around an eligible building.
(3) Tree removal and trimming within 100 feet of an eligible building.

55501.
 (a) There is established in the State Treasury the Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan and Rebate Fund. Moneys in the fund shall, upon appropriation by the Legislature, be made available to the California Statewide Communities Development Authority to provide financing assistance or rebates to owners of eligible buildings to pay for eligible costs of fire hardening as follows:
(1) No- and low-interest loans to a person who owns an eligible building and has an income level up to 120 percent of the area median income.
(2) Rebates for up to 80 percent of the cost of the retrofit to a person who owns an eligible building and has an income level up to 80 percent of the area median income.
(b) Financing provided by a local agency pursuant to this division shall not, when combined with existing liens on the property, exceed 80 percent of the current appraised value of the property, as determined by an independent, certified appraiser, unless existing lienholders consent in writing to a higher loan-to-value ratio. Notice of the intention to provide financing to the owner of the property shall be given to existing lienholders of record not less than 30 days before any vote of the local agency authorizing the provision of financing to the owner of the property.
(c) The California Statewide Communities Development Authority shall develop guidelines for the financing assistance and rebates provided pursuant to this section.

SEC. 5.

 Section 4123.7 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4123.7.
 (a) On or before July 1, 2021, the Natural Resources Agency, in consultation with the State Fire Marshal and the Forest Management Task Force, shall review the regional capacity of each county that contains a very high fire hazard severity zone, as identified by the director pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code or Article 9 (commencing with Section 4201), to improve forest health, fire resilience, and safety. The review shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) Identification of local or regional entities engaged in fire prevention work, such as resource conservation districts, fire safe councils, state conservancies, and other local agencies.
(2) A review of fire prevention organizational or capacity deficits within each county subject to the review.
(3) Recommendations for projects that relevant state agencies should prioritize for grant funding within counties subject to the review for the following programs:
(A) The Fire Prevention Grants Program administered by the department.
(B) The Forest Health Grant Program administered by the department.
(C) The Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program administered by the Natural Resources Agency.
(4) Recommendations to improve regional capacity and collaboration within the counties subject to review, including, but not limited to, the development of new organizations or regional districts.
(b) The Natural Resources Agency shall make the review required pursuant to subdivision (a) publicly available on its internet website.