The best approach is friendly in person conversations neighbor to neighbor with the people who own the property of concern. In most situations, neighbors care about one another’s safety, and are open to accommodating requests when they fully understand the situation and need – and are asked nicely. If this fails, then you can reach out to the City, Town, County, CAL FIRE, or your local Fire District (whatever agency is most appropriate for your situation) and they can help provide guidance, look at the property, talk with the owner, and move the process forward. It should always start at the neighbor to neighbor level as that is most effective, timely, and efficient. Learn more about communicating with property owners and find template letters stating concerns here. https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2787/Defensible-Space-Neighbors
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The State of California has Public Resource Codes (PRC) 4290 and 4291. PRC-4291 prescribes the requirement for 100' defensible space around an improved building found in the state responsibility area (SRA). This is the statewide standard and what defensible space inspection (DSI) programs utilize. This code is applicable to all businesses and residences (improved parcels) that are not in an incorporated city or town, thus they are in the SRA. The City of Grass Valley, Nevada City, and the Truckee Fire Protection District each have their own vegetation ordnance, so you should look to the specific agency in which your home resides in for details. Nevada County Consolidated Fire District has Fuel Modification Standards that apply to vacant parcels if they reside in their fire district boundary.
PRC-4291 is applied to a single property at a time in the SRA. The SRA is fundamentally the unincorporated county area. As such, Nevada County has a vegetation ordinance that builds on this code. First, if a home cannot achieve their needed 100' of defensible space due to their property line being less than 100' from their home, it requires the adjacent property owner to accommodate the additional space needed to obtain the full 100'. Second, it adds the requirement for property owners that are along a private road that is a critical egress route to mitigate the vegetation 10' back from the roadside edge and trimmed up 15" high. The County ordinance only applies in the unincorporated county area and includes a fee structure and abatement program.
You can find all the ordinances mentioned here online with at each agencies' public website. Learn more about preparing your property and specific laws and ordinances in our Ready section. https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2710/Ready
If all reasonable attempt of friendly conversations and request have failed, then its time to bring in the appropriate local agency that could be the City, Town, County, CAL FIRE, or your local Fire District (whatever agency is most appropriate for your situation) and they can help provide guidance, look at the property, talk with the owner, and move the process forward. Most agencies have a defensible space inspection request form, and/or a hazardous vegetation complaint form located on their agency’s public website. If the property of concern is in clear violation of the governing vegetation ordinance relevant to your location, then yes, they could be forced to fix it.
Alert them that the property does not meet current code requirements through a friendly phone call and that you are concerned for your safety in the case of a wildfire event. If all reasonable attempt of friendly conversations and request have failed, then it’s time to bring in the appropriate local agency. That could be the City, Town, County, CAL FIRE, or your local Fire District (whatever agency is most appropriate for your situation) and they can help provide guidance, look at the property, talk with the owner, and move the process forward. Most agencies have a defensible space inspection request form, and/or a hazardous vegetation complaint form located on their agency’s public website.
In western county, green waste can be disposed at the County McCourtney Road Transfer Station for a fee. Waste Management operates the transfer station and also offers home based green waste cart pickup service. http://www.wm.com/location/california/nevada_county/nevada_county/index.jsp
Information for the Truckee area can be found on the Town’s website here:https://www.townoftruckee.com/government/administrative-services/solid-waste-recycling/green-waste-disposal
The Nevada County Firesafe Council annually conducts a free or low-cost neighborhood green waste event scheduled over several days/weeks in the Spring. Details on future events can be found here: http://www.areyoufiresafe.com/
The Firesafe Council has provided a special needs assistance program in the past and is currently working on securing funds for a future program. Updates will be posted here and at their website http://www.areyoufiresafe.com/ The Nevada County Resource Conservation District has some programs for larger property owners that can help offset vegetation mitigation costs. Find info on their website here: http://www.ncrcd.org/ Additionally 211 is a free service that can connect you to community resources and services that may be appropriate for your situation. Dial 2-1-1 or 1-833-DIAL211 for assistance.
Acceptable items include: biomass consisting of all tree and plant trimmings, dead plants, weeds, leaves, branches, and similar materials that fit into a Green Waste Cart. Please note, items with a diameter greater than 6 inches, tree stumps, root balls, and household waste will not be accepted.
The Fire Safe Council maintains a page of current and past projects here: http://www.areyoufiresafe.com/get-fire-smart/projects/
You can learn more about making your home more fire-resistant here: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2748/Create-a-Fire-Resistant-Home
CAL FIRE also has a great site with many resources to harden your home at: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Hardening-Your-Home/ This site also includes links out to building material lists and building codes. http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/strucfireengineer/strucfireengineer_bml
The Nevada County Fires Safe Council promotes and support Firewise Communities across our County. You can learn more about Firewise Communities and search for your property on an interactive map here. https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2782/Organize-Your-Neighborhood
If you would like to contact them directly with questions you can find more information here.: http://www.areyoufiresafe.com/get-involved/firewise-communities/
Building codes can be found at your city/town website and/or the County Building Department page which is here: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/1114/Building-Department The site http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Hardening-Your-Home/ also includes useful information on the State’s building codes.
Each year CAL FIRE, Local Fire, County Office of Emergency Services (OES), and other local first responders conduct two local community wildland urban interface (WUI) exercises. These annual exercises involve the local neighborhood groups. Fire crews visit homes to talk with residents about their properties. Road closures, evacuations, and Code Red emergency alert notifications are all used to simulate a wildfire event. This year one exercise has already been performed for Lake of the Pines and the second event is on June 9th for the Cement Hill/Lake Vera areas. In addition, OES has worked with community associations to conduct further Code Red emergency alert testing in the past.
The Office of Emergency Services is currently conducting a broad public education and preparedness campaign branded “Ready Nevada County”. A professional media expert was hired to coordinate activities and produce content. OES staff have participated on numerous local radio show segments, attended dozens of public meetings with neighborhood associations, service groups, and public agencies. Social media, local radio, local websites, and local print media have all run numerous information articles and stories on the County’s PR efforts and messages. The County mailed a Ready, Set, Go wildfire home and family preparedness brochure to every household in western Nevada County and the Soda Springs area in May. A new website was created and launched at www.ReadyNevadaCounty.org. OES conducted two town hall wildfire education meetings, one western and one in eastern county; each had overflow 400+ people in attendance. OES conducted a community showing of wildfire films and a wildfire expert panel discussion at the Nevada Theater with over 300 people in attendance. OES produced a four series public wildfire public education series held at the Rood Center, each had standing room only crowds with the fourth event scheduled in June. These townhall and public events were all live streamed on the Internet and local cable TV and are available for on demand video viewing from the County and Nevada County Media’s websites. OES via Ready Nevada County, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, and Nevada City First Friday Art Walk joined forces for a summer-long series of Ready, Set, Go Mixers in Nevada City, June 7, July 5, August 2, 5:00-9:00 P.M. Nevada County Media developed a video segment PSA that Sierra Theaters will start airing for the summer at every movie showing. The annual wild fire guide produced in collaboration with the Fire Safe Council and local Fire was printed in The Union newspaper in May. On May 4th, the annual Wildfire safety day was held at the Rood Center seeing 70+ vendor booths and agencies and hundreds of residents in attendance. Numerous other actives are currently in process and planned for the year.
The County has several hazard mitigation plans and a specific wildfire action plan. The County’s master countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan was updated and approved by FEMA in 2018. There are three current Community Wildfire Prevention Plans (CWPP) that cover general western county, Norther San Juan, and Truckee. The Office of Emergency Services developed a wildfire preparedness action plan that was presented to the Board of Supervisors in January 2019. This plan outlines 15 action initiatives the County is pursuing from public education and outreach, evacuation planning, to emergency notifications. OES recently hired a consultant to update the County’s Emergency Operation Plan’s annexs for Evacuations and Mass Causality.
The Nevada County Office of Emergency Service coordinates several local emergency related tasks forces that address wildfire issues. The Nevada County Emergency Service Council, required by County code, is comprised of local first responders, public health, and emergency related non-profits. The Council is chaired by a BOS member typically meets quarterly. A special cohort group meets bimonthly and focusses solely on public safety in the Yuba River canyon. This group is co-chaired by two BOS members and includes members from State Parks, Fire, Sheriff, OES, BLM, US Forest Services, and nonprofits. The local fire chiefs including CAL FIRE conduct a monthly “chief’s” meeting; OES, City Police, Sheriff, CHP, and other related agencies attend as well.
Starting in January 2019, OES facilitates the Ready Nevada County wildfire stakeholders group that meets quarterly. This is a countywide group of 35+ local agencies with a shared mission of wildfire prevention and preparedness. Over 70+ people from the various agencies attended each meeting where CAL FIRE, OES, local Fire, Sheriff, and local non-profits share and hear about current grant opportunities, projects, and efforts; all with the goal to further coordinate local projects, communications, and resources. An online group site was implemented to further foster regular stakeholder communications, document sharing, and event coordination. To date, over 100 stakeholders are registered on the site.
The Firesafe Council (FSC) of Nevada County is a local nonprofit with the sole mission to address local wildfire threats and advocate for wildfire preparedness. This group leads the collaborative development of the western county wildfire prevention plan (CWPP). The County is a major funder of the Fire Safe Council and has a Board of Supervisors member on their Board of Directors. The County works closely with the FSC on wildfire related grants, projects and strategies.