The Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved 3 initiatives intended to decrease the risk of wildfire. These policy updates and contracts demonstrate the Board’s commitment to fire safety and preparedness as top priority.
Defensible Space Inspection Partnership with Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (NCCFD)
Countywide there are an increased number of requests for defensible space inspections. To meet this heightened interest, the Nevada County’s Office of Emergency Services has entered into a pilot partnership with Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (NCCFD) who will manage the oversight, administration and staff supervision services. This agreement with NCCFD will encourage greater communication, cooperation, and coordination between the County, NCCFD, other local Fire Districts and agencies, and CAL FIRE.
Of paramount importance to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Nevada County are the protection of lives and structures from the threat of wildfire, and the safety of fire and law enforcement during wildfires. The proper establishment of defensible space benefits property owners, public safety personnel and all citizens of Nevada County by dramatically increasing the likelihood that structures will survive a wildfire, providing for firefighter safety during a firestorm and generally aiding in the protection of lives.
Urgency Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance Updates Adopted
Tuesday, an update to Article 7 of Chapter IV of the Nevada County General Code, Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance No. 2411, was also adopted. The purpose of this Article is to provide for the removal of hazardous vegetation and combustible material from around the exterior of improvements situated in the unincorporated areas of the County and to promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community.
Changes to the article include who may enforce the article. In the previous iteration, Fire Officials were responsible for issuing Notices to Abate. Now, if a property owner’s home and roadways are out of compliance with current defensible space requirements, a Public Official, Code Enforcement Officer or Office of Emergency Services staff member, may issue and enforce Notices to Abate. If noncompliance is still an issue after 3 inspections, a Public Official may issue a noncompliance citation. Best efforts, cooperation and visible mitigation in progress will be taken into consideration as Public Officials have the ability to waive fines in these instances. There is an extensive process for appeals to include fair hearings if a lien should be recorded against the property.
In addition, a new fine structure was adopted*:
- A fine not exceeding one hundred thirty dollars ($130) for a first violation.
- A fine not exceeding seven hundred dollars ($700) for a second violation of the same ordinance within one year of the first violation.
- A fine not exceeding one thousand three hundred dollars ($1,300) for each additional violation of the same ordinance within one year of the first violation.
The full Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance may be read here.
* Hardship Sec,. G-IV 7.16 Penalties for Violations
D. Pursuant to Government Code Section 25132, subdivision (d), if the County levies a fine pursuant to subsections (b) or (c) of section G-IV 7.16 C., the County shall establish a process for granting a hardship waiver to reduce the amount of the fine upon a showing by the responsible party that the responsible party has made a bona fide effort to comply after the first violation and that payment of the full amount of the fine would impose an undue financial burden on the responsible party.
Support to Certify 10 New Firewise Communities Approved
Lastly, a $10,400 increase in the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County contract was approved to officially certify 10 new Firewise Communities by June of 2019, adding to the 24 already in existence:
- Greenhorn (District 1)
- You Bet (District 1)
- Bear River (District 2)
- Sierra Knolls (District 2)
- Foxwood (District 3)
- Cedars (District 3)
- Wolf Mountain (District 3)
- Ananda (District 4)
- Upper Rough & Ready (District 4)
- Juniper Hills (District 5)
Organizing as a Firewise Community is one of the most effective ways to educate and prepare neighborhoods for fire danger. Nevada County is proud to have one of the highest numbers of certified communities in the state. Firesafe Council oversees the robust process of certification and continues to collaborate with Nevada County, CAL FIRE, fire chiefs, volunteers, local businesses and Registered Professional Foresters to develop community, wildfire hazard, assessments and strategy. If you would like to find out if you are already in a Firewise Community or learn more about how to start one, please visit http://AreYouFiresafe.com.
Defensible Space Financial Assistance Available
The County of Nevada understands tree removal and vegetation thinning can be costly. Both the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County have applied for grants to provide resources to help low-income and individuals with access and functional needs. Both organizations are awaiting notification from CAL FIRE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to hear whether these grant programs will be funded. In the meantime, individuals may apply to get on the Fire Safe Council’s eligibility list. Additionally, individuals may seek assistance through USDA’s Housing Repair and Loan & Grant program which provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.