By Miriam Raftery
January 16, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego Supervisors today gave preliminary approval to change the county’s building code in order to require fire-resistant construction of all new homes in areas with moderate to high wildfire risk in unincorporated areas. The standards are tougher than those mandated by the state. A final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for January 29.
The changes were proposed by East County’s two Supervisors, Dianne Jacob and Jim Desmond. Jacob said she hopes the new requirements will serve as a “model for fire protection” statewide, also saving lives during wildfires.
San Diego County has been devastated by numerous major wildfires, including the 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 firestorms which killed 17 people and destroyed thousands of homes, causing billions of dollars in property damage.
The new building code standards will require exterior walls to be resistant to flames and embers, eave vents to remain closed, and improved construction for roofs, foundations and gabled door vents to reduce potential for embers to enter through vents and ignite fires. The latter would add about $300 to the cost of a 2,400 square foot home.
No one spoke for or against the changes. Staff indicated that it had informed community planning groups, the Building Industry Association, environmental stakeholders and the County’s Building Innovation Group about the new requirements.