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State needs to change its tune on its own brush

By Roger DeWeese

Your recent articles indicate that some people are finally getting serious about brush management.

They should be. If you haven’t seen the pictures from the fires last fall, they say a lot about what we’re up against. They showed what was left of homes that had 2,000 feet of nothing but dirt 360 degrees around them and yet they still burned down.

While many of us are taking actions like having our homes painted with fire resistant paint to complement the clearing we’re having done, there are others who are not facing up to their responsibilities.

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That would be the State of California.

As you may know, the state has enacted a law requiring individuals to clear the brush from their property for a distance of 100 feet, or to their property line, whichever is closer.

The law also gives the insurance companies the right to require any additional distance they may want cleared without regard to the homeowner’s property line. This means, of course, that a homeowner could be responsible for clearing the brush from property he or she may not own.

There are many people who live next to state-owned property that is thick with brush. The state, however, exempted itself from its own brush-clearing requirements and refuses to clear any brush on its property that is adjacent to private homes. On top of that, the state will not allow adjacent property owners to clear brush on state land.

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When asked for a solution to this condition, the local state officials have suggested that all people living next to state-owned brush land simply sell their homes and move.

They claim that its brush is now sacred because much of it is in open-space reserves and endangered species live there.

A practical solution needs to be found for this situation before the next fire. Save the brush or the people and their homes - which should it be?

Roger DeWeese is a retired landscape architect.


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