Rita Behr: Fire control regulations, thought manipulations
On Aug. 22, the Grass Valley City Council amended Chapter 8.16.230 and 8.16.240 of the City of Grass Valley Municipal Code regarding fire control regulations, to be implemented on June 1, 2018.
Most would say this is necessary at first glance. Take a second look and you will find that it gives the City of Grass Valley the right to enter your private property and remove any vegetation, twig, or any other flammable material and charge any price or fee! Then place a lien on your property. If this lien/bill is not paid by the time your property taxes are due (Dec. 10), then it will be attached to your property along with your property taxes. If you do not pay it with your taxes, then later your property will be sold at auction per the County Tax Collector laws. So, this can very well be used as a property grab.
To be in charge, will be the fire department, or an authorized representative and/or the director of the community development department or a representative to enforce the requirements? Wow, stop right there! Why would the community development department be involved? As it reads, if any flammable materials are on your property, they can remove them at any cost to the property owner. Will this require all real estate sales to add a disclosure to each property sale of the unlimited liability?
Now, it used to be that they could warn you, then fine you. This is not the same. And the way that it reads, they mean every twig, bush, tree limb, blade of grass, pine cone, leaf, any flammable material, every day, during fire season. Cal Fire is also mentioned.
So, what would make a city council pass such a law? Especially that smells like a property takeover and control law? What were they thinking? Smaller fires could be stopped easier with less fuel that is true, no question about that. What about soil erosion if you take out too many trees? Mud slides can occur when there aren’t fallen pine needles to disburse the heavy rains before they hit the ground. This new law sounds like a firefighter’s dream come true or an extremist. Are there some firefighters out there who are suffering from PTSD, who need to calm down a bit? City Council, you should have been a buffer from that. There could be better solutions to this. Read on.
First, could small generation plants be developed and used to burn some of these burnable materials from properties to offset the cost to the property owners and create a new industry? Free enterprise and employment opportunities for the community. Also wood products, such as paper (like paper towels, writing paper, tobacco or marijuana rolling papers, paper bags), or lumber and recycled composite boards.
Second, could fire retardants be used instead of removing all of the plants and trees? Like fire breaks, rather than, down to the dirt, fire breaks. (Erosion problems with down to the dirt). Spraying fire retardant on vegetation before a fire occurs. Maybe use drones to spray with. The teenagers would have a great time having competition retardant drops. I saw a man lift himself with a drone. Could we use a spray bar below the drone like the crop dusters do in the valley, only smaller spraying devices like drones? Maybe put a little stickiness to the retardant so it lasts for months?
The wildlife in our forested city rely on pine cones, pine needles, manzanita leaves and berries, trees for nesting, pine needle beds to lay down in, oak acorns to eat, etc. Where is the consideration for wildlife?
A solution for people, wildlife, property and fire reduction, rather than slamming people would have been a more professional approach. County supervisors, can you help with some of this situation? Don’t say that generation plants could not be made, or it would take 10 years to make small mobile plants. Don’t want to hear that lie. Don’t even go there! Mankind is capable. Who could help? PG&E? Maybe our city itself?
The thought of the code being left the way it stands is scary. I would not care for the government coming in and doing what that code says. There would be much invasion of privacy and property, also, erosion, financial, and wild life threats. I ask the City of Grass Valley to rescind the ordinance.
Rita Behr lives in Grass Valley.
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