Protecting our region from wildfires

Those of us who live in San Di­ego County know that the best way to protect our homes and property from wildfires is by doing whatever can be done, not during or after a crisis, but before an event occurs. I was pleased when my colleagues on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously ap­proved two wildfire preparedness measures introduced by myself and Supervisor Jim Desmond re­garding wildfire preparedness.

Our first proposal directed the County to identify gaps in mitigat­ing the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutdowns. These shut­downs occur when public utilities shut off power, during times of windy and dry conditions that in­crease the chance of fire outbreaks and can affect rural residents who rely on electricity to pump well wa­ter and operate necessary medical devices. To date, the County has directed the use of $1.8 million to mitigate the impacts of power shutdowns by purchasing emer­gency generators for libraries, fire stations and other facilities. Our measure directs County staff to seek additional funding that could be used for additional mitigation activities such as providing backup batteries for traffic signals at major intersections that need to be opera­tional during evacuations.

The second item we approved di­rected County staff to identify pub­lic roads where vegetation clearing s h o u l d b e i n ­creased to enhance public safety and sup­press fire hazards. Current­ly, the County’s Defensible Space Ordinance re­quires property owners to clear 10 ft of “combustible vegetation” along the sides of roadways. The Board’s action will allow this clear­ance to be doubled to 20 ft in ap­propriate areas.

The County of San Diego main­tains 2,000 miles of public road­ways, a majority of which is in rural areas prone to wildfires. I consult­ed with the fire chiefs throughout San Diego County to gain their per­spective on this action and ensure it would help protect our communi­ties and serve as a benefit to their fire suppression efforts.

I want to thank Supervisor Des­mond for working with me to intro­duce these measures and I appreci­ate my fellow Supervisors’ support to ensure we are doing all we can to protect against the destruction of dangerous wildfires that are, un­fortunately, a part of living in San Diego County. There is much more work to be done and I will continue working with my colleagues to en­sure we pursue every effort to not only be prepared for wildfires when they occur but hopefully, prevent them from occurring in the first place.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and ideas on this subject. Please visit my website at www.supervisorjoelanderson. com to view these two Board Let­ters, learn more about my efforts to serve our community, and leave any suggestions or comments you may have as well.


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