Code Section

Government Code - GOV

TITLE 5. LOCAL AGENCIES [50001 - 57607]

  ( Title 5 added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 81. )
  

DIVISION 1. CITIES AND COUNTIES [50001 - 52203]

  ( Division 1 added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 81. )
  

PART 1. POWERS AND DUTIES COMMON TO CITIES AND COUNTIES [50001 - 51298.5]

  ( Part 1 added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 81. )
  

CHAPTER 6.8. Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones [51175 - 51189]
  ( Chapter 6.8 added by Stats. 1992, Ch. 1188, Sec. 1. )

  
51189.  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that site and structure defensibility is essential to reduce the risk of structure ignition as well as for effective fire suppression by firefighters. This need to establish defensibility extends beyond the site fuel management practices required by this chapter, and includes, but is not limited to, measures that increase the likelihood of a structure withstanding ignition, such as building design and construction requirements that use fire resistant building materials, and standards for reducing fire risks on structure projections, including, but not limited to, porches, decks, balconies and eaves, and structure openings, including, but not limited to, attic, foundation, and eave vents, doors, and windows.

(b) No later than January 31, 2020, the State Fire Marshal, in consultation with the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Director of Housing and Community Development, shall, pursuant to Section 18930 of the Health and Safety Code, recommend updated building standards 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, based on information learned from the 2017 wildfire season.

(c) (1) No later than January 31, 2020, the State Fire Marshal, in consultation with the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Director of Housing and Community Development, shall 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. The department shall incorporate the list in its fire prevention education and outreach efforts.

(2) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (1), the list shall include a guidance document, including regionally appropriate vegetation management suggestions that preserve and restore native plant species that are fire resistant or drought tolerant, or both.

(d) (1) The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall develop a model defensible space program that shall be made available for use by a city, county, or city and county in the enforcement of the defensible space provisions of Section 51182 of this code and subdivision (a) of Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code. In the development of this program, the State Fire Marshal shall consult with representatives from local, state, and federal fire services, local government, building officials, utility companies, the building industry, insurers and insurance research organizations, and the environmental community. Components of the program shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(A) General guidelines for creating and maintaining defensible space around specified structures, including appropriate guidelines and definitions for vegetation management.

(B) Suggested minimum qualifications needed for enforcement personnel.

(C) Enforcement mechanisms for compliance with and maintenance of defensible space requirements, including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) Site inspections.

(ii) Procedures for notifying a property owner of a violation.

(iii) Timelines for corrective action by a property owner and for reinspection.

(iv) Citations requiring abatement of a violation and subsequent removal of a fire hazard within the defensible space boundaries.

(v) Suggested administrative procedures that allow for appeal of the citation by the property owner.

(2) If a defensible space program is adopted, the local agency for enforcement of this program may recover the actual cost of abatement and may cause a notice of abatement lien to be recorded in the county in which the real property is located. The notice shall, at a minimum, identify the record owner or possessor of the property, set forth the last known address of the record owner or possessor, set forth the date upon which abatement was ordered by the local agency and the date the abatement was completed, and include a description of the real property subject to the lien and the amount of the abatement cost.

(3) The model defensible space program required pursuant to this subdivision shall be updated whenever the department substantially updates the guidance documents created pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 51182 of this code and subdivision (e) of Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code.

(4) In order to develop and implement this subdivision and support any required update of the guidance documents identified in subdivision (c) of Section 51182 of this code and subdivision (e) of Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is authorized to expend funds from the Building Standards Administration Special Revolving Fund, upon an appropriation by the Legislature, pursuant to Section 18931.7 of the Health and Safety Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 404, Sec. 1. (SB 190) Effective January 1, 2020.)