Jackson Bill to Require Fire-Safe Building Passes Assembly

August 31, 2020

SACRAMENTO – As California battles devastating wildfires throughout the state, legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to require fire-safe building passed the Assembly today. SB 182 puts in place standards and guidelines for building responsibly if and when building in very high fire risk areas. The bill will now go back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before heading to the Governor.

“As the wildfires throughout our state this summer have made all too clear yet again, California continues to face increasing risk of catastrophic wildfires as a result of climate change. We cannot afford to continue with the status quo. SB 182 will help ensure our communities are built to be fire-resilient, without compromising the state’s affordable housing goals,” said Jackson, who is vice chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.

Senate Bill 182 requires that communities at a very high risk of being devastated by wildfires plan and build any new homes or construction in a manner that maximizes fire prevention. The bill:

•          Requires that communities update their General Plans to identify local very high fire risk areas and specify goals and policies to protect residents from unreasonable wildfire risk.

•          Ensures, when construction happens in very high fire risk areas, that it meet new wildfire risk reduction standards established by the State Fire Marshal. These standards will include hardened homes, evacuation routes, defensible space for homes and communities, and sufficient availability of water and fire response. SB 182 will also prohibit cities and counties from approving any new construction unless wildfire risk reduction standards are met.

•          Directs local governments to establish retrofit strategies for their fire risk communities, and creates a statewide clearinghouse of retrofit strategies for local planning agencies to consult.

•          Requires that communities in very high fire risk areas comply with defensible space, vegetation management, local fire plans, and other wildfire prevention efforts.

•          Directs cities and counties to develop a plan and determine how to finance and fund the hardening of existing communities and new developments vulnerable to wildfire.

More than three million Californians currently live in high-risk wildfire areas, even as the areas at risk of wildfire are expanding.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County. Her community was impacted by the devastating 2017 Thomas Fire.