Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Was Quoted on Brush Clearance

In October, I moved via promotion from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (DPW) to the Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures (ACWM). ACWM is a lower-profile Department, and so typically, I will not be showing up on the news media as often as I used to.

Once of the things ACWM does is "Weed Abatement" - brush clearance. Owners of developed properties are contacted by the Fire Department and told what they have to do as far as brush clearance, and we contact the owners of "unimproved" parcels (vacant lots). This is done every year to help prevent fires from spreading and destroying structures and killing people.

Jason Wells of the Glendale News-Press (an affiliate of the Los Angeles Times) wrote about the efforts currently underway in the Glendale area.

Fire officials are calling on property owners to clear out brush from around buildings that could later become fuel for what is shaping up to be one
of the area's driest fire seasons on record. Glendale firefighters will be
patrolling neighborhoods through July that are at a high risk for brush fires to
make sure residents are complying with guidelines for creating 100-foot barriers
of cleared brush around buildings and other landscape maintenance, said Doug
Nickels, fire prevention coordinator for the fire department.

County officials will also be combing through the areas this month
to make sure owners of vacant lots have complied with notices ordering them to
clear out dry vegetation, said Ken Pellman, spokesman for the Los Angeles County
Weed Hazard and Pest Management Bureau. There is unusual urgency behind the
weed abatement programs this year because of record rain shortfalls for Glendale
and La Crescenta that resulted in a landscape of dry vegetation that would offer
little resistance to flames, officials said.

A report by the National Interagency Fire Center also warned that the potential for fires this season would be above normal in Southern California due to a dry winter and spring. "This year we are being more stringent because of the dry
conditions," Pellman said.

The lack of rain this year may have cut down on that growth, but it has also made the vegetation highly flammable and able to quickly transfer flames from one lot to the next, Pellman said.

"That's where the problem comes in," he said. "If there's enough to be flammable, it's too much."

Owners of vacant property who have failed to heed county notices to clear vegetation will have to pay the tab for county workers who do it for them
starting on May 16, he said.

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