Code Section Group

Public Resources Code - PRC

DIVISION 4. FORESTS, FORESTRY AND RANGE AND FORAGE LANDS [4001 - 4958]

  ( Division 4 repealed and added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )

PART 2. PROTECTION OF FOREST, RANGE AND FORAGE LANDS [4101 - 4789.7]

  ( Part 2 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )

CHAPTER 3. Mountainous, Forest-, Brush- and Grass-Covered Lands [4291 - 4299]
  ( Chapter 3 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144. )

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 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 of Forestry and Fire Protection shall develop, periodically update, and post on its Internet Web site 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.

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

(Amended by Stats. 2009, Ch. 208, Sec. 4. (SB 833) Effective January 1, 2010.)

4291.1.
  

(a) Notwithstanding Section 4021, a violation of Section 4291 is an infraction punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), nor more than five hundred dollars ($500). If a person is convicted of a second violation of Section 4291 within five years, that person shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), nor more than five hundred dollars ($500). If a person is convicted of a third violation of Section 4291 within five years, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500). If a person is convicted of a third violation of Section 4291 within five years, the department may perform or contract for the performance of work necessary to comply with Section 4291 and may bill the person convicted for the costs incurred, in which case the person convicted, upon payment of those costs, shall not be required to pay the fine. If a person convicted of a violation of Section 4291 is granted probation, the court shall impose as a term or condition of probation, in addition to any other term or condition of probation, that the person pay at least the minimum fine prescribed in this section.

(b) If a person convicted of a violation of Section 4291 produces in court verification prior to imposition of a fine by the court, that the condition resulting in the citation no longer exists, the court may reduce the fine imposed for the violation of Section 4291 to fifty dollars ($50).

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 773, Sec. 1.)

4291.3.
  

Subject to any other applicable provision of law, a state or local fire official, at his or her discretion, may authorize an owner of property, or his or her agent, to construct a firebreak, or implement appropriate vegetation management techniques, to ensure that defensible space is adequate for the protection of a hospital, adult residential care facility, school, aboveground storage tank, hazardous materials facility, or similar facility on the property. The firebreak may be for a radius of up to 300 feet from the facility, or to the property line, whichever distance is shorter.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 21, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

4292.
  

Except as otherwise provided in Section 4296, any person that owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution line upon any mountainous land, or forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land shall, during such times and in such areas as are determined to be necessary by the director or the agency which has primary responsibility for fire protection of such areas, maintain around and adjacent to any pole or tower which supports a switch, fuse, transformer, lightning arrester, line junction, or dead end or corner pole, a firebreak which consists of a clearing of not less than 10 feet in each direction from the outer circumference of such pole or tower. This section does not, however, apply to any line which is used exclusively as telephone, telegraph, telephone or telegraph messenger call, fire or alarm line, or other line which is classed as a communication circuit by the Public Utilities Commission. The director or the agency which has primary fire protection responsibility for the protection of such areas may permit exceptions from the requirements of this section which are based upon the specific circumstances involved.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1300.)

4293.
  

Except as otherwise provided in Sections 4294 to 4296, inclusive, any person that owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution line upon any mountainous land, or in forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land shall, during such times and in such areas as are determined to be necessary by the director or the agency which has primary responsibility for the fire protection of such areas, maintain a clearance of the respective distances which are specified in this section in all directions between all vegetation and all conductors which are carrying electric current:

(a) For any line which is operating at 2,400 or more volts, but less than 72,000 volts, four feet.

(b) For any line which is operating at 72,000 or more volts, but less than 110,000 volts, six feet.

(c) For any line which is operating at 110,000 or more volts, 10 feet.

In every case, such distance shall be sufficiently great to furnish the required clearance at any position of the wire, or conductor when the adjacent air temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or less. Dead trees, old decadent or rotten trees, trees weakened by decay or disease and trees or portions thereof that are leaning toward the line which may contact the line from the side or may fall on the line shall be felled, cut, or trimmed so as to remove such hazard. The director or the agency which has primary responsibility for the fire protection of such areas may permit exceptions from the requirements of this section which are based upon the specific circumstances involved.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1300.)

4294.
  

A clearing to obtain line clearance is not required if self-supporting aerial cable is used. Forked trees, leaning trees, and any other growth which may fall across the line and break it shall, however, be removed.

(Added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144.)

4295.
  

A person is not required by Section 4292 or 4293 to maintain any clearing on any land if such person does not have the legal right to maintain such clearing, nor do such sections require any person to enter upon or to damage property which is owned by any other person without the consent of the owner of the property.

(Added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144.)

4296.
  

Sections 4292 and 4293 do not apply if the transmission or distribution line voltage is 750 volts or less.

(Added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144.)

4296.5.
  

(a) Any person or corporation operating a railroad on forest, brush, or grass-covered land shall, if ordered by the director or the agency having primary responsibility for fire protection of the area, destroy, remove, or modify so as not to be flammable any vegetation or other flammable material defined by regulation of the director to be a fire hazard on the railroad right-of-way. The director shall adopt regulations establishing fire prevention hazard reduction standards for broad geographic areas by fuel type, slope, and potential for ignition from hot or flaming exhaust, carbon particles, hot metal, burning signal devices, burning tobacco, and other similar potential sources of ignition.

(b) The order to destroy, remove, or modify vegetation or other flammable material shall specify the location of the hazard to be destroyed, removed, or modified within the right-of-way, the width of the hazard which shall not exceed the width of the right-of-way, and the time within which compliance with the order is required.

(c) The director or the agency having primary responsibility for fire protection of the area shall allow a reasonable period of time for compliance with an order to destroy, remove, or modify vegetation or other flammable material.

(Added by Stats. 1978, Ch. 698.)

4297.
  

Upon the showing of the director that the unrestricted use of any grass-covered land, grain-covered land, brush-covered land, or forest-covered land is, in the judgment of the director, a menace to life or property due to conditions tending to cause or allow the rapid spread of fires which may occur on such lands or because of the inaccessible character of such lands, the Governor through the director, may, by a proclamation, which declares such condition and designates the area to which, and the period during which the proclamation shall apply, require that such area be closed to hunting and fishing and to entry by any person except a person that is within one of the following classes:

(a) Owners and lessees of land in the area.

(b) Bona fide residents in the area.

(c) Persons engaged in some bona fide business, trade, occupation, or calling in the area and persons employed by them in connection with such business, trade, occupation, or calling.

(d) Authorized agents or employees of a public utility entering such area for the purpose of operating or maintaining public utility works or equipment within the area.

(e) Members of any organized firefighting force.

(f) Any federal, state or local officer in the performance of his duties.

(g) Persons traveling on public roads or highways through the area.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1300.)

4298.
  

The proclamation by the Governor shall be released to the wire news services in the state, and shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in each county which contains any lands covered by the proclamation. Notice of closure shall also be posted on trails or roads entering the area covered by the proclamation. The closure shall be effective upon issuance of the proclamation by the Governor. Each notice shall clearly set forth the area to be subject to closure and the effective date of such closure. The closure shall remain in full force and effect until the Governor shall by order terminate it. The notice of such termination shall follow the same procedure by which such closure was effected. The order of termination shall be effected upon issuance.

(Added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1144.)

4299.
  

A person who violates Section 4297 or 4298 is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 10 days nor more than 90 days or both the fine and imprisonment. All state and county law enforcement officers shall enforce orders of closure.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 90, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2005.)

PRCPublic Resources Code - PRC