President’s Report— Looking for Ways to Lessen Fire Fear | TheUnion.com

President’s Report— Looking for Ways to Lessen Fire Fear

All of us are aware of the Lobo fire last fire season and the catastrophic fires that have battered Northern California this year. In October, the Lake Wildwood Board of Directors approved an Ad Hoc Committee to address fire risk reduction within our community. This cross functional committee consists of members from the Board of Directors, Public Safety Committee, Public Works Committee, and Environmental Management Committee. This Ad Hoc Committee is looking into ways to dramatically lessen fire hazards in our community, both on Association property and individual lots. They are also making efforts to obtain outside funding and other resources to help with the mitigation efforts. As with every undertaking in Wildwood the complexity grows the more you begin to gain understanding.

The Ad Hoc team is talented and very energized to take on this challenge and they have the full support of the Board and Administration. They are geared up and moving forward. This article is intended to explain some of the challenges and suggest how you can help. As always, we are open to your comments and suggestions.

1. Our EMO rules are outdated and can conflict or don't adequately support current laws and regulations. Examples would be: screening propane tanks with vegetation or flammable fencing; how wood or other combustible material is stored; use of fire prone vegetation, proper tree maintenance, and even debris on rooftops. Our EMO rules must be updated and enforced. There are other Associations that have addressed these kinds of issues and can be great models for change.

2. We ask that members strongly consider getting ahead of these rule changes by requesting a "FREE" voluntary review of your lot. The goal would be to develop a plan that you can implement over time to achieve "defensible space." Please email the EMO at emo@lwwa.org to arrange for a review. If the plan developed is a hardship for you and you meet certain criteria, financial help may be available. You can contact the Fire Safe Council at 272-1122 and ask for information about the Senior Needs Assistance Program.

3. The team has run headlong into previous priority setting regarding the realities of owning and maintaining common areas. Our rules regarding the use and maintenance of the Association roadway space from the actual pavement edge to the member lot boundary have been unclear and conflicting. They will be updated. However, the law is clear that the Association needs to maintain a safe area ten feet back from the edge of the roadway pavement and 15 feet up, if there are trees involved. Local authorities have not had the resources to strictly enforce the law, but they have bought it to our attention in coordination meetings. For the movement of fire safety equipment, safe evacuation routes, and defensible space we must focus on compliance. The team is looking into grants to assist us with attacking this major undertaking, but we must face funding a long-term program to bring LWA common areas up to standards. This subject will be a high priority discussion in the upcoming budget meetings.

4. The team is now working on initial approaches that would include "voluntary" help from members along their roadway lot line. We realize that many members have treated this area as their own with plantings, maintenance, and in some cases hardscape. In other situations, the area has been neglected and mainly contains native plant growth. Removing or reducing vegetation in the 10-foot area across your lot will assist in making Wildwood safer for all of us and move the Association forward in this critical undertaking. You may have questions based on your specific situation and what should be done. Please contact the EMO office via email at emo@lwwa.org The plant material of highest priority for removal are: dead plants or branches; juniper; manzanita; St. John's Wort; rosemary; Italian Cypress; and bamboo.

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We all love the natural beauty of our community setting in this wildland urban interface. With the benefits of this environment also comes the fact that we live in a "high fire danger zone" as defined by CalFire. Even though some members hold deep feelings about maintaining a very natural ecosystem in Wildwood, we must not ignore the realities of living in this environment and being responsible stewards of the land. Many of us are also finding that there are practical implications of lowering our fuel levels and fire risk when it comes to homeowner's insurance availability and rates. — Mike Doscher, President, LWA

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