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. )

  
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 used 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. The promulgation of these regulations by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or another statute for this purpose. 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 State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, in consultation with 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 State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, in consultation with 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. The implementation of this paragraph is contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or another statute for this purpose.

(d) For purposes of this section, a structure for the purpose of an ember-resistant zone shall include any attached deck. This section does not limit the authority of the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection or the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to require the removal of fuel or vegetation on top of or underneath a deck pursuant to this section.

(Amended by Stats. 2020, Ch. 259, Sec. 2. (AB 3074) Effective January 1, 2021.)