County to Administer Defensible Space Inspection Program |

County to Administer Defensible Space Inspection Program

Susan Hoek
Supervisor, District IV

Well, it is that time of year again – summer is here. And as you probably guessed, wildfire is a major concern on everyone’s mind. I can tell you that here at the County it is one of our top priorities.

This spring, the Board approved an agreement with Nevada County Consolidated Fire District and Cal FIRE to administer the County’s Defensible Space Inspection Program. Additionally, the Board amended the County’s Hazardous Vegetation Abatement Ordinance to provide clarification on 1) the abatement of adjacent parcels to supplement PCR Section 4291; 2) the abatement process and cost recovery; and 3) the administrative enforcement of the ordnance. An important change was redefining who could issue a citation.

Previously only fire officials were able to issue citations, whereas now public officials include company officers and trained prevention staff as may be designated by a Fire Chief, as well as our County Compliance Officers. The County also just published and mailed out the Ready Nevada County 2019 Ready, Set, Go! Handbook to every homeowner within the County. The guide provides information on how to prepare for wildfire and evacuation, best practice standards on vegetation management and home hardening, and helpful checklists to get yourself and your family prepared should a disaster strike. This includes being signed up for Code Red to receive any emergency notifications, including evacuation notices.

Folks can get signed up on Code Red and get more information by going to the County’s new wildfire preparedness website at Please take the time now to get prepared, because during a crisis, you will not have time. This brings up personal responsibility. Our fire folks are saying they need people to meet them half way by mitigating their property and being properly prepared. However, I say we need to meet them three quarters of the way because in the end they can only do so much. It’s up to each and everyone one of us. So roll up your sleeves, get out there and get to work. We can do this.

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In other news directly related to wildfire, is homeowner’s insurance, or should I say the lack of. We are hearing from folks every day who are being dropped by homeowner’s insurance. This is a problem that is occurring across the State. The Board recently sent a letter to the State Insurance Commissioner outlining our strong concern over the availability and affordability of homeowner’s insurance. Over 76% of homes in Nevada County are within areas located in elevated and extreme high-fire danger areas.

Subsequently, insurance companies are either significantly increasing their premiums or they are simply pulling out of these areas to mitigate their risks. So what does that mean for us? Well you can take a couple of actions if you receive a Notice of Non-Renewal from your insurance company. First, contact the Department of Insurance (DOI) at 1-800-927-4357 or go to and file a complaint.

The DOI can review your insurance policy and identify whether your insurance carrier is an admitted insurance carrier or not, meaning, if they are an admitted carrier, then they are subject to certain state insurance rules and regulations. The DOI website also has a wealth of resources on how to find and obtain insurance. A last resort option for homeowners who cannot obtain homeowner’s insurance is the California FAIR Plan. The FAIR Plan is an insurance pool to ensure the availability of basic property insurance to individuals who own property in the State of California who, beyond their control, are unable to obtain insurance. You can learn more about the California FAIR Plan at

While on the subject of consumer protection, I would like to also take the opportunity to address the availability of phone service in Nevada County. Recently I have received complaints that people are being declined phone service, which is illegal.

Representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) explained to me that AT&T is the Carrier of Last Resort in the majority of Nevada County and that they are required to provide telephone service, upon request, to all the customers within their designated service area.

The nine basic service elements include: 1) the ability to place and receive voice-grade calls over all distances utilizing the public switched telephone network; 2) free access to 911; 3) specific billing provisions like flat rate options for unlimited incoming and outgoing calls; 4) directory services; 5) access to telephone relay services; 6) access to customer service information; 8) one-time free blocking and one-time billing adjustments for charges incurred inadvertently, mistakenly, or without authorizations; and 9) access to operator services.

If any these services are not being offered by AT&T, then there is a good chance that you are being incorrectly informed. If so, you should do the following: First, contact AT&T and file a complaint and obtain a complaint service number. Then file a complaint with the CPUC Consumer Affairs Branch at with all the information about the complaint including the work service number.

This will allow the CPUC to be able to track the issue and help resolve the problem. If your complaint is not resolved within 24 hours, then email my office at and provide us your name, date of the complaint, the complaint service number, and a description of the issue.

We can then follow up with our government liaison on the issue.

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