September 13, 2012 (Sacramento) – Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) announced today that her legislation to protect development from wildfire has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
“SB 1241 will save lives and property. It will also ease the financial burden for fire suppression on both state and local governments through early, consistent, and meaningful fire hazard planning statewide,” stated Senator Kehoe. “We have fires in California every year. As more people move into State Responsibility Areas and high fire hazard severity zones, it’s become critical that local governments plan for fire hazards in these high risk areas as early in their land use planning process as possible,” Kehoe said.
Senate Bill 1241 requires local governments to plan for wildfire hazards as they consider approving development in State Responsibility Areas and high fire hazard severity zones. Local governments would be required to update their land use plans beginning January 1, 2014. The information is similar to what is already required in land use plans for flooding hazards.
According to Cal Fire, there has been an increase in fire activity this year. There have been nearly 1,400 more wildfires so far this year than last year. In addition, Cal Fire’s fire suppression budget has increased by more than 150% since 1997-98. In 2008 alone, it spent $1 billion. These numbers are expected to worsen as more people move into high fire risk areas and the state confronts climate change.
The measure received bipartisan support in the legislature and was supported by the Fire Districts Association of California, the California Fire Chiefs Association, California Professional Firefighters, Sierra Club, and others. To view the text of SB 1241, visit www.senate.ca.gov/kehoe and click on “legislation.”