SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — With California increasingly plagued by record wildfires, state researchers have released an updated draft of a fire hazard planning document that will be used to guide city planners and local stakeholders toward reducing fire risk in their communities, and is inviting the public to comment on the guidelines.

The Fire Hazard Planning Technical Advisory document, originally published in 2015, was developed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and includes specific land-use strategies to reduce fire risk to buildings and infrastructure. Local planners and governments would use the finalized guidelines as a land-use blueprint for future growth.

Among the guidelines being developed would be identifying existing homes and businesses at the highest risk of fire and establishing measures to reduce risk, identifying nature-based solutions for risk reduction, and prioritizing the needs of vulnerable and under-resourced populations when a wildfire disaster strikes.

“California communities are experiencing bigger, more severe wildfires that are happening more often,” said Kate Gordon, OPR Director and the Governor’s Senior Advisor on Climate in a press release. “As climate change continues to increase California’s wildfire risk, the State looks to support local and regional planners as they work to reduce wildfire risk and increase climate resilience, especially in our most vulnerable communities.”

“The changes we are seeing in the scale and severity of wildfires, combined with decades of expansion of the wildland-urban interface and a century of extensive fuel build-up demands that we expand our approach,” said Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter in a prepared statement.

The OPR is encouraging public comment on the Fire Hazard Planning TA through December 18, and directed interested parties to submit comments on the draft through OPR’s Public Comment Submission Form.

The office will also host a webinar on November 18 to present the draft update and answer questions. Interested individuals may register directly for the webinar or view the event on OPR’s YouTube channel, where the webinar will be livestreamed and archived.

The updated fire hazard plan comes in response to Senate Bill 901 and Assembly Bill 2911, passed in 2018 to address the increased intensity and frequency of wildfires across the state. The measures call for the reallocation of $25 million to “support activities directly related to regional response and readiness,” and $200 million of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to CalFire to promote forest health, fire prevention, and fuel reduction.

Following the public feedback, the OPR was expected to release the final Fire Hazard Planning TA in early 2021.

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