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California Attorney General issues wildfire risk guidance for some proposed developments

Firefighters are pictured spraying water on the Poinsettia Fire behind Carlsbad homes, May 2014.
Carlsbad Fire Department
Firefighters are pictured spraying water on the Poinsettia Fire behind Carlsbad homes, May 2014.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta is leading an effort to assess wildfire risk for some new constriction developments.

Bonta said his office’s new guidance will help local governments mitigate wildfire risk for proposed developments in fire-prone areas.

“When house hunting and apartment searching there are other (crucial) questions that may not get asked: ... How likely is this home to burn up in flames tomorrow? Do fire rescue and emergency responders have easy access to my neighborhood?" the Attorney General said.


Bonta spoke at San Diego’s Mission Trails Regional Park Monday to outline the new guidance.

It tells agencies to look at things like the density of a project, its location, the availability of evacuation routes, water supply and how to fire-harden homes and other buildings.

“Eight of the 10 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in the past 10 years. Since 2005, wildfires have destroyed over 97,000 structures,” Bonta said.

The 14-page document looks to improve wildfire safety for residential developments overall, but especially in the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development — known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Attorney General said local governments need to carefully analyze and mitigate wildfire impacts for new development projects during the review process required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


Bonta said his office has "gotten involved as a litigant in CEQA cases" in San Diego County and he wants local governments to have a clear legal path to avoid lawsuits down the road.

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