I’d like to share my perspective about the possible new fire abatement enforcement protocols currently under committee discussion. I was at the chief’s meeting in June 2014 when this was initially brought up.
In that meeting, which was open to the public, the chiefs and members of the community discussed possible ways to make enforcement possible, or at least easier. Community members brought this up, not the chiefs.
Right now, it’s cheaper for many property owners to not abate and then pay any fines that currently exist. In a nearby county, they had success with a policy that allowed abatement to be done on non-compliant properties and the money charged to the owner’s property tax bill. Not in any of this, as far as I know, is there any discussion of stricter abatement standards. I could be wrong.
I understand that some are concerned about increased costs, and even though I don’t believe that is proposed, wouldn’t it be cheaper to spend more upfront on prevention than it would to rebuild the entire community after a wildland fire?
For those who think abatement can’t make a difference in such a large forest, remember that many wildland fires, including the Mountain Fire in 2013, ignite on private property, where if fuels were reduced, the spark may have nothing to ignite in the first place.
I believe, but could be wrong, that the new protocols being discussed are designed to motivate everyone to abate their properties, not penalize or charge people who already abate.
I do hope to see more community meetings so these issues can be discussed and people’s concerns addressed by the chiefs and others.
I, for one, am grateful that we have nonprofits such as MCFSC in the community operating for our benefit, and that we have a county fire chief who responds to community feedback.