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AB-1516 Fire prevention: wildfire risk: defensible space and fuels reduction management.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 09/18/2019 04:00 AM
AB1516:v89#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 17, 2019
Passed  IN  Senate  September 10, 2019
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  September 06, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  August 30, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  August 12, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  July 03, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  June 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 06, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 30, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1516


Introduced by Assembly Member Friedman
(Principal coauthor: Senator Stern)
(Coauthor: Senator Jackson)

February 22, 2019


An act to amend Sections 23010, 51182, and 51186 of the Government Code, and to amend Sections 4124.5, 4291, 4740, and 4741 of, to add Sections 4291.8 and 4295.6 to, and to add and repeal Sections 4291.5, 4291.6, and 4291.7 of, the Public Resources Code, relating to fire prevention.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1516, Friedman. Fire prevention: wildfire risk: defensible space and fuels reduction management.
(1) Existing law requires the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to identify areas in the state as very high fire hazard severity zones based on specified criteria and the severity of the fire hazard. Existing law requires that 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. A repeated violation within a specified timeframe of those requirements is a crime.
This bill would require a person described above to utilize more intense fuel reductions between 5 and 30 feet around the structure, and to create an ember-resistant zone within 5 feet of the structure, as provided. Because a violation of these provisions would be a crime or expand the scope of an existing crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would require each local agency having jurisdiction of property upon which conditions that are regulated by the defensible space provisions described above apply and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to make reasonable efforts to provide notice to affected residents of the above requirements before imposing penalties for a violation of those requirements. By imposing additional duties on local agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would authorize the department, subject to availability of funding, to make local fire prevention grants available to certain entities to improve compliance with defensible space requirements in very high fire hazard severity zones through the creation of defensible space assessment or inspection programs.
This bill would require the director to establish a statewide program to allow qualified entities, as defined, to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts and to establish a common reporting platform for participating qualified entities to report defensible space and home hardening assessment data to the department. The bill would require the department to develop and implement a training program to train individuals to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts. The bill would require the department to issue to individuals who have successfully completed the training program a certification of completion. The bill would require the director, by January 1, 2024, to submit to the Legislature a report on the effectiveness of the statewide program. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2025.
(2) Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop, periodically update, and post on its internet website a guidance document on fuels management for purposes of very high fire hazard severity zones, as designated by a local agency, and requires the guidance document to include, but not be limited to, regionally appropriate vegetation management suggestions that preserve and restore native species.
This bill would limit these native species, for purposes of the guidance document, to those that are fire resistant or drought tolerant, or both.
(3) Existing law requires a person that owns, controls, operates, or maintains an electrical transmission or distribution line upon mountainous land, or in forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land, to maintain certain clearances between all vegetation and all conductors that are carrying electric current during those times and in those areas determined to be necessary by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection or the agency with primary responsibility for the fire protection of those areas. A violation of this provision and other specified provisions relating to fire prevention requirements is a crime.
This bill would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission and any person who owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution lines, on or before July 1, 2021, to develop, through a public process, an online guidebook of vegetation, including tree and shrub species, that, if planted in the vicinity of electrical transmission and distribution lines, cannot encroach within the vicinity of overhead conductors, as provided. For purposes of this provision, and other specified provisions related to firebreaks and vegetation clearance around electrical transmission or distribution lines, as provided, the bill would define person to mean, among other things, a county, city, district, or other local public agency. By expanding the duties of a local public agency, the bill would create a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the guidebook to include, but not be limited to, guidelines for planting underneath and to the side of conductors of varying voltages, as provided. The bill would require the department, the Public Utilities Commission, an electrical corporation, and a local publicly owned electric utility to make available on their respective internet websites the above-described guidebook.
(4) Existing law sets forth findings and declarations of the Legislature relating to the benefits of the state’s expertise in wildland fire prevention and vegetation management on forest, range, and watershed lands.
This bill would revise those findings and declarations of the Legislature.
(5) Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to assist local governments in preventing future wildland fire and vegetation management problems by making its wildland fire prevention and vegetation management expertise available to local governments to the extent possible within the department’s budgetary limitations.
This bill instead would require the department to assist local governments in preventing future high-intensity wildland fires and instituting appropriate fuels management by making its wildland fire prevention and vegetation management expertise available to local governments to the extent possible within the department’s budgetary limitations. The bill would explicitly define, for these purposes, “local governments” to include cities, counties, and special districts.
(6) Existing law authorizes a county, by resolution, to loan moneys to certain local and regional districts to enable those districts to perform their functions and meet their obligations.
This bill would include a resource conservation district as a district eligible for a loan from a county.
(7) 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 with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so 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: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) Catastrophic wildfires pose an urgent threat to lives, properties, and resources in California. The state experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018. Fueled by five years of drought and unprecedented buildup of dry vegetation and extreme winds, the size and intensity of recent wildfires caused the loss of more than 100 lives, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses, and exposed millions of urban and rural Californians to unhealthy air. Compared with fire activities in 1986, recent wildfires in the western United States have occurred nearly four times more often, burned more than six times the land area, and lasted almost five times as long.
(2) Climate changes, an epidemic of dead and dying trees, a century of fire exclusion, and the proliferation of new homes in the wildland-urban interface magnify this threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades. More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat, extending that risk over one-half of the state. More than 2,000,000 California households and approximately one in four residential structures in California are either located within or near “high” or “very high” fire hazard severity zones identified on maps drawn by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
(3) Certain populations in our state are particularly vulnerable to wildfire. These Californians live in communities that face near-term public safety threats given their location and geography. Some residents in these areas are made further vulnerable due to factors such as age and lack of mobility. The tragic loss of life and property in the Town of Paradise during the 2018 Camp Fire demonstrates that vulnerability.
(4) While California has stringent building standards for new construction and requirements for the maintenance of defensible space in wildfire hazard areas, the intensity of the wildfire threat in California warrants higher levels of action and fortitude. California must develop scalable statewide options to encourage cost-effective structure hardening to create fire-resistant homes, businesses, and public buildings within wildfire hazard areas, with a focus on vulnerable communities.
(5) California must also increase the pace and scale of defensible space assessments, inspections, and community education across the state. Creating and maintaining defensible space is essential for increasing a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. California should encourage and use all available resources, including community organizations and local governments, to help homeowners and businesses understand how to create and maintain defensible space around their properties.
(6) Ember ignitions are responsible for the majority of wildland fire home ignitions. Establishing a five-foot ember-resistant zone around a structure to eliminate specified materials near structures that will likely be ignited by embers provides important new protections enhancing a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to develop a statewide program that allows qualified public sector and service group third parties to support and augment the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s defensible space and home hardening education efforts. The program should ensure that all third-party participants are trained to a common standard and use coordinated messaging when educating the public about defensible space and home hardening.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the amendments made by this act to Section 51182 of the Government Code and Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code creating a requirement for an ember-resistant zone five feet from a structure should be phased in over time for existing structures.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursue collaborative approaches to achieve compliance with new defensible space requirements taking into account property owners’ financial resources and the scope of work necessary to achieve compliance.
(e) It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection take enforcement actions on violations as a last resort in seeking compliance with the ember-resistant zone requirement for existing structures.

SEC. 2.

 Section 23010 of the Government Code is amended to read:

23010.
 (a) Pursuant to a resolution adopted by its board of supervisors, a county may lend any of its available funds to any community services district, county waterworks district, mosquito abatement district, pest abatement district, fire protection district, flood control and water conservation district, recreation and park district, resource conservation district, regional park district, regional park and open-space district, regional open-space district, resort improvement district, or public cemetery district located wholly within the county, if its funds are or when available will be in the custody of the county or any officer of the county, in order to enable the district to perform its functions and meet its obligations. The loan shall not exceed 85 percent of the district’s anticipated revenue for the fiscal year in which it is made or for the next ensuing fiscal year, and shall be repaid out of that revenue before the payment of any other obligation of the district.
(b) (1) Pursuant to a resolution adopted by its board of supervisors, a county may loan any of its available funds to a special district, in order to enable the district to perform its functions and meet its obligations. The loan shall not exceed 85 percent of the special district’s anticipated property tax revenue projected to be generated for the fiscal year in which it is made or for the next ensuing fiscal year within that portion of the district’s territory that is located within the county. The loan shall be repaid out of any available revenue of the special district before the payment of any other obligation of the district.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, “special district” means a special district, as defined in Section 54775, that is located in more than one county.
(c) (1) The board of supervisors may borrow funds from the county or from other garbage disposal districts, not to exceed 85 percent of the district’s anticipated revenue for the fiscal year in which they are borrowed or for the next ensuing fiscal year. In levying taxes or prescribing and collecting fees or charges as authorized by this division, the board of supervisors may raise sufficient revenues to repay the loans.
(2) The board of supervisors may lend available district funds to another garbage disposal district, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this section.
(3) Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit the board of supervisors from borrowing funds from banks or other financial institutions when the best interests of the district are served thereby.
(d) Notwithstanding any other law, funds, when borrowed by a garbage disposal district pursuant to subdivision (c), shall forthwith increase the appropriations of the district for which they are needed. The governing body of the entity from which the funds are borrowed may specify the date and manner in which the funds shall be repaid. The loan shall not exceed 85 percent of the district’s anticipated revenue for the fiscal year in which it is made or for the next ensuing fiscal year, and shall be repaid out of that revenue before the payment of any other obligation of the district.
(e) The district shall pay interest on all funds borrowed from the county at the same rate that the county applies to funds of the district on deposit with the county.

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) (A) 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 subparagraph (B). The amount of fuel modification necessary shall consider 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 subparagraph 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, with more intense fuel reductions being utilized between 5 and 30 feet around the structure, and an ember-resistant zone being required within 5 feet of the structure, based on regulations promulgated by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, to consider the elimination of materials in the ember-resistant zone that would likely be ignited by embers. Consistent with fuels management objectives, steps should be taken to minimize erosion.
(B) A greater distance than that required under subparagraph (A) 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.
(C) An insurance company that insures an occupied dwelling or occupied structure may require a greater distance than that required under subparagraph (A) 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.
(2) Remove that portion of a tree that extends within 10 feet of the outlet of a chimney or stovepipe.
(3) Maintain a tree, shrub, or other plant adjacent to or overhanging a building free of dead or dying wood.
(4) Maintain the roof of a structure free of leaves, needles, or other vegetative materials.
(5) 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) (1) The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall develop, periodically update, and post on its internet website a guidance document on fuels management pursuant to this chapter. The guidance document 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 such as woodpiles, propane tanks, decks, and outdoor lawn furniture.
(2) On or before January 1, 2023, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall update the guidance document to include suggestions for creating an ember-resistant zone within five feet of a structure based on regulations promulgated by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, to consider the elimination of materials in the ember-resistant zone that would likely be ignited by embers.

SEC. 4.

 Section 51186 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51186.
 (a) The local agency having jurisdiction of property upon which conditions regulated by Section 51182 are being violated shall notify the owner of the property to correct the conditions. If the owner fails to correct the conditions, the local agency may cause the corrections to be made, and the expenses incurred shall become a lien on the property that is the subject of the corrections when recorded in the county recorder’s office in the county in which the real property is located. The priority of the lien shall be as of the date of recording. The lien shall contain the legal description of the real property, the assessor’s parcel number, and the name of the owner of record as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll.
(b) (1) Each local agency having jurisdiction of property upon which conditions that are regulated by Section 51182 apply shall make reasonable efforts to provide notice to affected residents within the jurisdiction of the local agency describing the requirements added by the amendments to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 51182 made in Assembly Bill 1516 of the 2019–20 Regular Session before the imposition of penalties for violating those requirements.
(2) (A) The requirement for an ember-resistant zone pursuant to Section 51182 shall not take effect for new structures until the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection updates the guidance document pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 51182.
(B) The requirements for an ember-resistant zone pursuant to Section 51182 shall take effect for existing structures one year after the effective date for new structures.

SEC. 5.

 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, including through increased inspections or assessments, 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.
(d) (1) Subject to the availability of funding, the department may also make local fire prevention grants available to local agencies, fire districts, fire safe councils, the University of California fire advisers, and resource conservation districts to improve compliance with defensible space requirements in very high fire hazard severity zones designated by the local agency pursuant to Section 51179 of the Government Code through the creation of defensible space assessment or inspection programs.
(2) Recipients of grants pursuant to this subdivision shall report to the department the number of assessments or inspections conducted using grant funds, estimated compliance rates, and a summary of any associated public education activities related to defensible space.
(e) 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.
(f) (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.
(g) The department may expand or amend an existing grant program to meet the requirements of this section.
(h) Funding for the local assistance grant program created pursuant to this section shall be made upon appropriation by the Legislature.

SEC. 6.

 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) (A) 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 subparagraph (B). The amount of fuel modification necessary shall consider 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 subparagraph 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, with more intense fuel reductions being utilized between 5 and 30 feet around the structure, and an ember-resistant zone being required within 5 feet of the structure, based on regulations promulgated by the board, in consultation with the department, to consider the elimination of materials in the ember-resistant zone that would likely be ignited by embers. Consistent with fuels management objectives, steps should be taken to minimize erosion. For the purposes of this subparagraph, “fuel” means any combustible material, including petroleum-based products and wildland fuels.
(B) A greater distance than that required under subparagraph (A) 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.
(C) An insurance company that insures an occupied dwelling or occupied structure may require a greater distance than that required under subparagraph (A) 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.
(2) Remove that portion of a tree that extends within 10 feet of the outlet of a chimney or stovepipe.
(3) Maintain a tree, shrub, or other plant adjacent to or overhanging a building free of dead or dying wood.
(4) Maintain the roof of a structure free of leaves, needles, or other vegetative materials.
(5) 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) (1) The department shall develop, periodically update, and post on its internet website a guidance document on fuels management pursuant to this chapter. The guidance document 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 such as woodpiles, propane tanks, decks, and outdoor lawn furniture.
(2) On or before January 1, 2023, the department shall update the guidance document to include suggestions for creating an ember-resistant zone within five feet of a structure, based on regulations promulgated by the board, in consultation with the department, to consider the elimination of materials in the ember-resistant zone that would likely be ignited by embers.
(f) The department shall do both of the following:
(1) Identify the types of vegetation or fuel that are to be excluded from an ember-resistant zone based on the probability that vegetation and fuel will lead to ignition by ember of a structure as a part of the update to the guidance document pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (e).
(2) (A) Make reasonable efforts to provide notice to affected residents describing the requirements added by the amendments to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) made in Assembly Bill 1516 of the 2019–20 Regular Session before the imposition of penalties for violating those requirements.
(B) (i) The requirement for an ember-resistant zone pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall not take effect for new structures until the department updates the guidance document pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (e).
(ii) The requirement for an ember-resistant zone pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall take effect for existing structures one year after the effective date for new structures.
(g) As used in this section, “person” means a private individual, organization, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation.

SEC. 7.

 Section 4291.5 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4291.5.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Home hardening” means the replacement or repair of structural features that are affixed to the property with features that are in compliance with Chapter 7A (commencing with Section 701A.1) of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.
(2) “Qualified entities” mean the following entities that have completed the program developed, and received a certification, pursuant to Section 4291.6:
(A) Counties, state conservancies, special districts, and other political subdivisions of the state.
(B) Members of the California Conservation Corps, local conservation corps, resource conservation districts, fire safe councils, and Firewise USA organizations.
(C) University of California fire advisors.
(D) Other entities or individuals deemed appropriate by the director.
(3) “Wildfire safety improvements” mean wildfire resilience and fire safety improvements, including measures for home hardening, the creation of defensible space, and other appropriate fuel reduction activities, to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other real property identified by the State Fire Marshal, in consultation with the director.
(b) The director shall establish a statewide program to allow qualified entities to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts. Qualified entities participating in the program shall be authorized by the director to conduct defensible space assessments to assess compliance with Section 4291 within the state responsibility area, educate property owners about wildfire safety improvements that may be undertaken to harden a structure and make it more resistant to fire, and assess whether wildfire safety improvements have been completed in or on a structure.
(c) (1) The director shall establish a common reporting platform that allows defensible space and home hardening assessment data, collected by the qualified entities, to be reported to the department and shall establish any necessary quality control measure to ensure that the assessment data is accurate and reliable.
(2) The department shall compile the data submitted pursuant to paragraph (1).
(d) The director may use the defensible space and home hardening assessment data to do any of the following:
(1) Direct inspection and enforcement resources away from landowners who meet or exceed the department’s standards and regulations for maintaining defensible space.
(2) Direct inspection and enforcement resources toward landowners who do not meet the department’s standards and regulations for maintaining defensible space.
(3) Direct educational resources toward landowners who own or maintain structures that can be hardened to make them more resistant to fire.
(4) Assist in estimating defensible space compliance in the state responsibility area.
(e) The department may expand or amend existing programs for the implementation of this section.
(f) This section does not grant any right of entry onto private land or regulatory or enforcement authority to participating qualified entities.
(g) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 8.

 Section 4291.6 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4291.6.
 (a) The department shall develop and implement a training program to train individuals to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts. The training program shall do all of the following:
(1) Provide for consistent training for third-party assessors.
(2) Qualify individuals to conduct defensible space assessments in the state responsibility area in accordance with the program established pursuant to Section 4291.5
(3) Ensure that all defensible space and home hardening assessment and education programs undertaken by the department and by third parties are conducted to the same standard and use coordinated messaging, including messages at www.readyforwildfire.org, or a successor internet website, as updated by the department.
(b) Upon the successful completion of the training program by an individual, the department shall issue a certification of completion to the individual.
(c) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 9.

 Section 4291.7 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4291.7.
 (a) By January 1, 2024, the director shall submit to the Legislature, in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code, a report that evaluates the effectiveness of the program developed pursuant to Section 4291.5 to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts. The report shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) An overview of the effectiveness of defensible space and home hardening.
(2) An evaluation of the overall wildfire risk reduction to structures achieved statewide pursuant to the program.
(3) An assessment of the number and geographic distribution of defensible space assessments undertaken by qualified entities, as defined in Section 4291.5, under the program.
(4) An assessment of the number, type, and geographic distribution of qualified entities that participate or have participated in the program to date.
(5) Detailed information about any impediments encountered to using qualified entities to conduct defensible space and home hardening assessments and related public education efforts.
(6) Recommendations on meeting the goal of inspecting each known structure within the state responsibility area at least once every three years for defensible space.
(b) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 10.

 Section 4291.8 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4291.8.
 For purposes of Sections 4292, 4293, 4295, 4295.5, and 4295.6, “person” shall mean any agency of the state, county, city, district, or other local public agency, and any individual, firm, association, partnership, business trust, corporation, limited liability company, or company.

SEC. 11.

 Section 4295.6 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4295.6.
 (a) (1) On or before July 1, 2021, the department, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission and any person who owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution lines, shall develop, through a public process, an online guidebook of vegetation, including tree and shrub species, that, if planted in the vicinity of electrical transmission and distribution lines, cannot encroach within the vicinity of overhead conductors such that an electrical utility would need to perform vegetation management in order to mitigate wildfire risk.
(2) The guidebook shall include, but not be limited to, guidelines for planting underneath and to the side of conductors of varying voltages. During development of these planting guidelines, the department shall consider, at a minimum, both of the following:
(A) The potential for the vegetation to hit the conductor by falling, line sway, or branch failure.
(B) Whether the vegetation is an irrigated orchard of fruit, nut, or citrus trees.
(b) The guidebook shall contain recommended utility-compatible vegetation, including tree and shrub species, to plant in the vicinity of electrical transmission and distribution lines and towers.
(c) The guidebook, to the extent feasible, shall also recommend vegetation, including tree and shrub species, to plant consistent with subdivision (b) that is either native or provides habitat benefits.
(d) The department and the Public Utilities Commission may use outside expertise, including, but not limited to, existing tree selection guides, when developing the guidebook.
(e) (1) The department and the Public Utilities Commission shall make available on their respective internet websites the guidebook described in subdivision (a).
(2) An electrical corporation, as defined in Section 218 of the Public Utilities Code, and a local publicly owned electric utility, as defined in Section 224.3 of the Public Utilities Code, shall make available on their respective internet websites the guidebook described in subdivision (a). A violation of this subparagraph by an electrical corporation or a local publicly owned electric utility shall not be subject to Section 4021.
(f) This section does not require the department to publish or provide a physical copy of the guidebook developed pursuant to subdivision (a).

SEC. 12.

 Section 4740 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4740.
 The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The department has extensive technical expertise in wildland fire prevention and vegetation management on forest, range, and watershed lands. When appropriately applied, this expertise can have significant public resource benefits, including decreasing high-intensity wildland fires, improving watershed management, range improvement, improving vegetation management, forest improvement, wildlife habitat improvement, restoring ecological integrity and resilience, improving community wildfire protection, improving carbon resilience, providing enhancement of culturally important resources, and maintenance of air quality.
(b) Because of the scope of the problem of high-intensity wildland fires and expertise of the department, local governments, including cities, counties, and special districts, need assistance in preventing future problems resulting from inadequate fire prevention planning and vegetation management.
(c) California will benefit if existing state expertise is made available to local governments, including cities, counties, and special districts, thereby integrating those efforts.

SEC. 13.

 Section 4741 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4741.
 (a) In accordance with policies established by the board, the department shall assist local governments in preventing future high-intensity wildland fires and instituting appropriate fuels management by making its wildland fire prevention and vegetation management expertise available to local governments to the extent possible within the department’s budgetary limitations.
(b) Any department recommendations made pursuant to this article shall be advisory in nature and local governments shall not be required to follow those recommendations.
(c) This section does not alter the existing obligations of a local government or affect the existing liability of a local government.
(d) For purposes of this section, “local governments” include cities, counties, and special districts.

SEC. 14.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution for certain costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district because, in that regard, this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
However, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains other 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.