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SB-1348 Fire prevention: vegetation management: public education: grants: defensible space: fire hazard severity zones: forest management.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/08/2020 09:00 PM
SB1348:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 08, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1348


Introduced by Senator Stern

February 21, 2020


An act to amend Sections 51178, 51178.5, and 51182 of the Government Code, to add Section 18941.12 to the Health and Safety Code, and to amend Sections 4124.5 4124.5, 4291, and 4799.05 of of, and to add Sections 4119.5, 4291.4, and 4799.05.5 to, the Public Resources Code, relating to fire prevention.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1348, as amended, Stern. Fire prevention: vegetation management: public education: grants. grants: defensible space: fire hazard severity zones: forest management.
(1) Existing law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to identify areas of the state as very high fire hazard severity zones based on specified criteria. Existing law requires a local agency, within 30 days after receiving a transmittal from the director that identifies very high fire hazard severity zones, to make the information available for public review, as provided.
This bill would also require the director to identify areas of the state as moderate and high fire hazard severity zones and would require a local agency to make this information available for public review, as provided. By expanding the responsibility of a local agency, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Building Standards Law provides for the adoption of building standards by state agencies by requiring all state agencies that adopt or propose adoption of any building standard to submit the building standard to the California Building Standards Commission for approval and adoption. In the absence of a designated state agency, the commission is required to adopt specific building standards, as prescribed. Existing law requires the commission to publish, or cause to be published, editions of the code in its entirety once every 3 years.
This bill would require the commission to adopt, approve, codify, and publish amendments to the California Building Standards Code that would extend provisions of the code relating to construction of new buildings in specified fire zones to land designated as moderate, high, and very high fire hazard severity zones and land designated as wildland-urban interface fire areas, as provided.
(3) Existing law requires a person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains an occupied dwelling or structure in, upon, or adjoining a mountainous area, forest-covered land, brush-covered land, grass-covered land, or land that is covered with flammable material that is within a very high fire hazard severity zone, as designated by a local agency, or a building or structure in, upon, or adjoining those areas or lands within a state responsibility area, to maintain a defensible space of 100 feet from each side and from the front and rear of the structure, as specified.
This bill would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to, on or before July 1, 2021, adopt regulations relating to defensible space requirements in vacant lots, create and maintain a public database relating to defensible space inspections and assessments conducted by the department, local agencies, or volunteers, and develop, and propose to the Legislature for consideration, a financial penalty structure to apply to landowners for whom the director has authorized the removal of vegetation that is not consistent with defensible space requirements and has made the expense of the removal a lien upon the property, as provided.

Existing

(4) Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection department to establish a local assistance grant program for fire prevention activities in the state. Exiting law requires that the eligible activities include, among other things, fire prevention activities, as provided.
This bill would also specifically include vegetation management along roadways and driveways and public education outreach regarding home and community wildfire resistance, as provided, as part of the eligible activities, as provided.

Existing

(5) Existing law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection director to provide grants to, or enter into contracts or other cooperative agreements with, specified entities for the implementation and administration of projects and programs to improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Existing law requires all moneys, except for fines and penalties, collected by the State Air Resources Board, as part of a market-based compliance mechanism to reduce air emissions, to be deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and to be available upon appropriation by the Legislature. Existing law requires that any project or program described above that is funded with moneys from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund complies with all statutory and program requirements applicable to the use of moneys from the fund.
This bill would authorize any project or program described above, or any grant, funded from the Greenhouse Reduction Fund, to include projects or programs for vegetation management along roadways and driveways, including defensible space training, as well as public education outreach regarding home and community wildfire resistance, as provided.
This bill would require the department, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, to establish a program for purposes of the development of specified federal environmental protection documents for landscape scale ecological restoration and fire resiliency projects on national forest lands that are at least 50,000 acres. The bill would authorize the department to contract with Native American tribes, local governments, forest collaboratives, and qualified nongovernmental organizations to develop the federal documents.
(6) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NOYES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 51178 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51178.
 The director shall identify areas in the state as moderate, high, and very high fire hazard severity zones based on consistent statewide criteria and based on the severity of fire hazard that is expected to prevail in those areas. Very Moderate, high, and very high fire hazard severity zones shall be based on fuel loading, slope, fire weather, and other relevant factors including areas where Santa Ana, Mono, and Diablo winds have been identified by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as a major cause of wildfire spread.

SEC. 2.

 Section 51178.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51178.5.
 Within 30 days after receiving a transmittal from the director that identifies very high fire hazard severity zones, zones pursuant to Section 51178, a local agency shall make the information available for public review. The information shall be presented in a format that is understandable and accessible to the general public, including, but not limited to, maps.

SEC. 3.

 Section 51182 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51182.
 (a) A person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains an occupied dwelling or occupied structure in, upon, or adjoining a mountainous area, forest-covered land, brush-covered land, grass-covered land, or land that is covered with flammable material, which area or land is within a very high fire hazard severity zone designated by the local agency pursuant to Section 51179, shall at all times do all of the following:
(1) Maintain defensible space of 100 feet from each side and from the front and rear of the structure, but not beyond the property line except as provided in paragraph (2). The amount of fuel modification necessary shall take into account the flammability of the structure as affected by building material, building standards, location, and type of vegetation. Fuels shall be maintained in a condition so that a wildfire burning under average weather conditions would be unlikely to ignite the structure. This paragraph does not apply to single specimens of trees or other vegetation that are well-pruned and maintained so as to effectively manage fuels and not form a means of rapidly transmitting fire from other nearby vegetation to a structure or from a structure to other nearby vegetation. The intensity of fuels management may vary within the 100-foot perimeter of the structure, the most intense being within the first 30 feet around the structure. Consistent with fuels management objectives, steps should be taken to minimize erosion.
(2) A greater distance than that required under paragraph (1) may be required by state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation. Clearance beyond the property line may only be required if the state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation includes findings that the clearing is necessary to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of flame or heat sufficient to ignite the structure, and there is no other feasible mitigation measure possible to reduce the risk of ignition or spread of wildfire to the structure. Clearance on adjacent property shall only be conducted following written consent by the adjacent landowner.
(3) An insurance company that insures an occupied dwelling or occupied structure may require a greater distance than that required under paragraph (1) if a fire expert, designated by the fire chief or fire official from the authority having jurisdiction, provides findings that the clearing is necessary to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of flame or heat sufficient to ignite the structure, and there is no other feasible mitigation measure possible to reduce the risk of ignition or spread of wildfire to the structure. The greater distance may not be beyond the property line unless allowed by state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation.
(4) Remove that portion of a tree that extends within 10 feet of the outlet of a chimney or stovepipe.
(5) Maintain a tree, shrub, or other plant adjacent to or overhanging a building free of dead or dying wood.
(6) Maintain the roof of a structure free of leaves, needles, or other vegetative materials.
(7) Prior to Before constructing a new dwelling or structure that will be occupied or rebuilding an occupied dwelling or occupied structure damaged by a fire in that zone, the construction or rebuilding of which requires a building permit, the owner shall obtain a certification from the local building official that the dwelling or structure, as proposed to be built, complies with all applicable state and local building standards, including those described in subdivision (b) of Section 51189, and shall provide a copy of the certification, upon request, to the insurer providing course of construction insurance coverage for the building or structure. Upon completion of the construction or rebuilding, the owner shall obtain from the local building official, a copy of the final inspection report that demonstrates that the dwelling or structure was constructed in compliance with all applicable state and local building standards, including those described in subdivision (b) of Section 51189, and shall provide a copy of the report, upon request, to the property insurance carrier that insures the dwelling or structure.
(b) A person is not required under this section to manage fuels on land if that person does not have the legal right to manage fuels, nor is a person required to enter upon or to alter property that is owned by any other person without the consent of the owner of the property.
(c) The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall develop, periodically update, and post on its Internet Web site internet website a guidance document on fuels management pursuant to this chapter. Guidance shall include, but not be limited to, regionally appropriate vegetation management suggestions that preserve and restore native species, minimize erosion, minimize water consumption, and permit trees near homes for shade, aesthetics, and habitat; and suggestions to minimize or eliminate the risk of flammability of nonvegetative sources of combustion such as woodpiles, propane tanks, decks, and outdoor lawn furniture.
(d) On or before July 1, 2021, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall adopt, by taking into consideration the slope of the land and other aspects of the terrain, vegetation cover, and the proximity to structures and other ignition-prone lands, regulations relating to defensible space requirements in vacant lots, including the size of the lot and the frequency with which they shall be treated to maintain safety.

SEC. 4.

 Section 18941.12 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

18941.12.
 The commission shall, commencing with the next triennial edition of the California Building Standards Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations) adopted after January 1, 2021, adopt, approve, codify, and publish amendments that extend the provisions of Section 701A.3.1 of the California Building Standards Code to land designated as moderate, high, and very high fire hazard severity zones by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code, and to land designated as wildland-urban interface fire areas as defined in Section 4902.1 of the California Fire Code. If any changes are made to these designations, the commission shall update the California Building Standards Code with these changes at the next update of the code.

SEC. 5.

 Section 4119.5 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4119.5.
 On or before July 1, 2021, the department shall create and maintain a public database that contains any defensible space inspections and assessments conducted by the department, local agencies, or volunteers, to the extent this information is known by the department. The department shall update this database annually.

SECTION 1.SEC. 6.

 Section 4124.5 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4124.5.
 (a) The department shall establish a local assistance grant program for fire prevention activities in California. Groups eligible for grants shall include, but are not limited to, local agencies, resource conservation districts, fire safe councils, the California Conservation Corps, certified local conservation corps, University of California Cooperative Extension, Native American tribes, and qualified nonprofit organizations. The department may establish a cost-share requirement for one or more categories of projects.
(b) The local assistance grant program shall establish a robust year-round fire prevention effort in and near fire threatened communities. The department shall prioritize, to the extent feasible, projects that are multiyear efforts.
(c) Eligible activities shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) Development and implementation of public education and outreach programs. Programs may include technical assistance, workforce recruitment and training, and equipment purchases.
(2) Fire prevention activities as defined in Section 4124.
(3) Projects to improve compliance with defensible space requirements as required by Section 4291 through increased inspections and assistance for low-income residents.
(4) Technical assistance to local agencies to improve fire prevention and reduce fire hazards.
(5) Creation of additional “Firewise USA” communities in the state or other community planning or certification programs deemed as appropriate by the department.
(6) Projects to improve public safety, including, but not limited to, access to emergency equipment and improvements to public evacuation routes.
(7) Vegetation management along roadways and driveways to reduce fire risk including defensible space training.
(8) Public education outreach regarding making homes and communities more wildfire resistant.
(d) The department may consider the fire risk of an area, the geographic balance of projects, and whether the project is complementary to other fire prevention or forest health activities when awarding local assistance grants.
(e) (1) Until January 1, 2024, the director may authorize advance payments from a grant awarded pursuant to this section. The advance shall not exceed 25 percent of the total grant award.
(2) The grantee shall expend the funds from the advance payment within six months of receipt, unless the department waives this requirement.
(3) The grantee shall file an accountability report with the department four months from the date of receiving the funds and every four months thereafter.
(f) The department may expand or amend an existing grant program to meet the requirements of this section.
(g) Funding for the local assistance grant program created pursuant to this section shall be made upon appropriation by the Legislature.

SEC. 7.

 Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4291.
 (a) A person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains a building or structure in, upon, or adjoining a mountainous area, forest-covered lands, brush-covered lands, grass-covered lands, or land that is covered with flammable material, shall at all times do all of the following:
(1) Maintain defensible space of 100 feet from each side and from the front and rear of the structure, but not beyond the property line except as provided in paragraph (2). The amount of fuel modification necessary shall take into account the flammability of the structure as affected by building material, building standards, location, and type of vegetation. Fuels shall be maintained in a condition so that a wildfire burning under average weather conditions would be unlikely to ignite the structure. This paragraph does not apply to single specimens of trees or other vegetation that are well-pruned and maintained so as to effectively manage fuels and not form a means of rapidly transmitting fire from other nearby vegetation to a structure or from a structure to other nearby vegetation. The intensity of fuels management may vary within the 100-foot perimeter of the structure, the most intense being within the first 30 feet around the structure. Consistent with fuels management objectives, steps should be taken to minimize erosion. For the purposes of this paragraph, “fuel” means any combustible material, including petroleum-based products and wildland fuels.
(2) A greater distance than that required under paragraph (1) may be required by state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation. Clearance beyond the property line may only be required if the state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation includes findings that the clearing is necessary to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of flame or heat sufficient to ignite the structure, and there is no other feasible mitigation measure possible to reduce the risk of ignition or spread of wildfire to the structure. Clearance on adjacent property shall only be conducted following written consent by the adjacent landowner.
(3) An insurance company that insures an occupied dwelling or occupied structure may require a greater distance than that required under paragraph (1) if a fire expert, designated by the director, provides findings that the clearing is necessary to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of flame or heat sufficient to ignite the structure, and there is no other feasible mitigation measure possible to reduce the risk of ignition or spread of wildfire to the structure. The greater distance may not be beyond the property line unless allowed by state law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation.
(4) Remove that portion of a tree that extends within 10 feet of the outlet of a chimney or stovepipe.
(5) Maintain a tree, shrub, or other plant adjacent to or overhanging a building free of dead or dying wood.
(6) Maintain the roof of a structure free of leaves, needles, or other vegetative materials.
(7) Prior to Before constructing a new building or structure or rebuilding a building or structure damaged by a fire in an area subject to this section, the construction or rebuilding of which requires a building permit, the owner shall obtain a certification from the local building official that the dwelling or structure, as proposed to be built, complies with all applicable state and local building standards, including those described in subdivision (b) of Section 51189 of the Government Code, and shall provide a copy of the certification, upon request, to the insurer providing course of construction insurance coverage for the building or structure. Upon completion of the construction or rebuilding, the owner shall obtain from the local building official, a copy of the final inspection report that demonstrates that the dwelling or structure was constructed in compliance with all applicable state and local building standards, including those described in subdivision (b) of Section 51189 of the Government Code, and shall provide a copy of the report, upon request, to the property insurance carrier that insures the dwelling or structure.
(b) A person is not required under this section to manage fuels on land if that person does not have the legal right to manage fuels, nor is a person required to enter upon or to alter property that is owned by any other person without the consent of the owner of the property.
(c) (1) Except as provided in Section 18930 of the Health and Safety Code, the director may adopt regulations exempting a structure with an exterior constructed entirely of nonflammable materials, or, conditioned upon the contents and composition of the structure, the director may vary the requirements respecting the removing or clearing away of flammable vegetation or other combustible growth with respect to the area surrounding those structures.
(2) An exemption or variance under paragraph (1) shall not apply unless and until the occupant of the structure, or if there is not an occupant, the owner of the structure, files with the department, in a form as the director shall prescribe, a written consent to the inspection of the interior and contents of the structure to ascertain whether this section and the regulations adopted under this section are complied with at all times.
(d) The director may authorize the removal of vegetation that is not consistent with the standards of this section. The director may prescribe a procedure for the removal of that vegetation and make the expense a lien upon the building, structure, or grounds, in the same manner that is applicable to a legislative body under Section 51186 of the Government Code.
(e) The department shall develop, periodically update, and post on its Internet Web site internet website a guidance document on fuels management pursuant to this chapter. Guidance shall include, but not be limited to, regionally appropriate vegetation management suggestions that preserve and restore native species that are fire resistant or drought tolerant, or both, minimize erosion, minimize water consumption, and permit trees near homes for shade, aesthetics, and habitat; and suggestions to minimize or eliminate the risk of flammability of nonvegetative sources of combustion combustion, such as woodpiles, propane tanks, decks, and outdoor lawn furniture.
(f) On or before July 1, 2021, the department shall adopt regulations relating to defensible space requirements in vacant lots, including the size of the lot and the frequency with which they shall be treated to maintain safety. When adopting the regulations the department shall take into consideration the slope of the land and other aspects of the terrain, vegetation cover, and the proximity to structures and other ignition-prone lands.

(f)

(g) As used in this section, “person” means a private individual, organization, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation.

SEC. 8.

 Section 4291.4 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4291.4.
 On or before July 1, 2021, the department shall develop, and propose to the Legislature for consideration, a financial penalty structure to apply to landowners for whom the director has authorized the removal of vegetation and has made the expense of the removal a lien upon the property pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 4291. The proposed financial penalty structure shall exceed the value of the lien.

SEC. 2.SEC. 9.

 Section 4799.05 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4799.05.
 (a) (1) The director may provide grants to, or enter into contracts or other cooperative agreements with, entities, including, but not limited to, private or nongovernmental entities, Native American tribes, or local, state, and federal public agencies, for the implementation and administration of projects and programs to improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
(2) (A) Until January 1, 2024, the director may authorize advance payments to a nonprofit organization, a local agency, a special district, a private forest landowner, or a Native American tribe from a grant awarded pursuant to this section. No single advance payment shall exceed 25 percent of the total grant award.
(B) (i) The grantee shall expend the funds from the advance payment within six months of receipt, unless the department waives this requirement.
(ii) The grantee shall file an accountability report with the department four months from the date of receiving the funds and every four months thereafter.
(C) (i) The department shall provide a report to the Legislature on or before January 1, 2023, on the outcome of the department’s use of advance payments.
(ii) A report submitted pursuant to this subparagraph shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(iii) The requirement for submitting a report imposed under clause (i) is inoperative on January 1, 2027, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.
(b) (1) Any project or program described in this section that is funded with moneys from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, created pursuant to Section 16428.8 of the Government Code, shall comply with all statutory and program requirements applicable to the use of moneys from the fund.
(2) Any project or program described in this section, or any grant funded from the Greenhouse Reduction Fund, created pursuant to Section 16428.8 of the Government Code, may include projects or programs for vegetation management along roadways and driveways to reduce fire risk, including defensible space training, as well as public education outreach regarding making homes and communities more wildfire resistant.
(c) Moneys appropriated to the department for landscape-scale projects shall be allocated as follows:
(1) To subsidize the removal of small diameter material, especially surface fuels and ladder fuels, as well as dead trees, in order to help develop markets for beneficial uses of the material, including, but not limited to, animal bedding, biochar, cross-laminated timber, mulch, oriented strand board, pulp, post, shredding, and veneer products.
(2) For multiple benefit projects, such as tree thinning, carbon sequestration, forest resilience, and improved ecological outcome projects, including, but not limited to, restoring watershed health and function and supporting biodiversity and wildlife adaptation to climate change. The department shall give grant funding priority to landowners who practice uneven aged forest management with a resilient forest of diverse age, size, and species class within the boundaries of the project and whose activities are conducted pursuant to an approved timber harvest plan, nonindustrial timber harvest plan, or working forest management plan. An application for a grant for a project under this subparagraph shall include a description of how the proposed project will increase average stem diameter and provide other site-specific improvement to forest complexity, as demonstrated by the expansion of the variety of tree age classes and species persisting for a period of at least 50 years. The department shall also give funding priority to landowners who agree to long-term forest management goals prescribed by the department.
(3) For activities on national forest lands to increase tree stand heterogeneity, create forest openings of less than one acre, and increase average tree stand diameter of residual trees. Any grants provided under this subparagraph shall be approved by the department, in collaboration with appropriate state agencies, including the State Air Resources Board.
(d) (1) Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) does not apply to prescribed fire, thinning, or fuel reduction projects undertaken on federal lands to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire that have been reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 4321) if either of the following is satisfied:
(A) The primary role of a state or local agency is providing funding or staffing for those projects.
(B) A state or local agency is undertaking those projects pursuant to the federal Good Neighbor Authority (Public Law 113-79) or a stewardship agreement with the federal government entered into pursuant to Public Law 113-79.
(2) Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) does not apply to the issuance of a permit or other project approval by a state or local agency for projects described in paragraph (1).
(3) This section does not alter, affect, or in any way diminish the authority of a state or local agency to impose mitigation measures or conditions on projects described in paragraph (1) pursuant to other laws or regulations.
(4) Commencing December 31, 2019, and annually thereafter, the department shall report to the relevant policy committees of the Legislature the number of times the process in this subdivision was used.
(5) (A) This subdivision shall remain operative only if the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency certifies on or before January 1 of each year that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 or other federal laws that affect the management of federal forest lands in California have not been substantially amended on or after August 31, 2018.
(B) Any CEQA exemption established under this subdivision shall continue in effect for those projects conducted under a National Environmental Policy Act record of decision, finding of no significant impact, or notice of exemption or exclusion that was issued prior to the date by which the Secretary determines that the National Environmental Policy Act or federal forest management laws were substantially amended.
(6) This subdivision shall become inoperative on January 1, 2023.

SEC. 10.

 Section 4799.05.5 is added to the Public Resources Code, immediately following Section 4799.05, to read:

4799.05.5.
 In cooperation with the United States Forest Service, the department shall establish a program for purposes of the development of federal National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 4321 et seq.) documents for landscape scale ecological restoration and fire resiliency projects on national forest lands that are at least 50,000 acres. The department may contract with Native American tribes, local governments, forest collaboratives, and qualified nongovernmental organizations to develop the federal documents.

SEC. 11.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.