County panel calls for wildfire plan
A board overseeing Nevada County building regulations removed a proposal to require fire-resistant materials in new homes.
The county Building Standards Code Board of Appeals will instead ask the Board of Supervisors to look at a county wildfire plan.
The updated building standards code and the fire plan recommendation are expected to go before the supervisors at a public hearing on Sept. 10.
The building standards board rejected the fire-resistant materials in its review of the new California Building Standards Code amendment to county land-use regulations.
Every three years, the state comes up with a new version of building codes. Counties pass their own versions modified for local conditions, such as snowfall.
An amendment to Nevada County’s code, which was not in the new state standards, called for new Nevada County homes to use fire-resistant materials. Those materials included outside walls that could resist fire for one hour, tempered glass windows, porches made of heavy wood or fire-resistant materials, and limited size requirements for attic ventilation holes.
The appeals board removed those provisions from the version of the building codes that will be passed on to the supervisors.
Building Department Director Clint McKinley said he put the provisions in the county’s version of the state code to prompt a discussion. He said part of his job is to address issues.
Vern Canon, fire marshal for the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, said fire chiefs were looking at the fire-resistant materials proposal, and had just set up a committee to review it.
Appeals board members didn’t question whether wildfire was an important issue. But they were concerned that the cost of making homes more fire-resistant could make it harder to build affordable housing.
“A lot of people in the area have money, but a lot of people in the area are blue collars, don’t have the money to afford this,” said board member Mike Reed. “It’s a step backward in terms of affordable housing.”
Barbara Bashall, executive director of the Nevada County Contractors Association, said the fire-resistant materials would add $15,000 to the cost of a new home.
Appeals board members do want the county to identify all the interested groups, and come up with goals and objectives for a fire protection plan for the county. They put those requests in the motion to approve the updated building codes.
The appeals board is the second group to call for a county wildfire plan, joining the Natural Heritage 2020 forestry group.
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