Wildcat Regional Park
Senate Bill 1241: Fire Hazard Planning
SB 1241, introduced by Senator Kehoe (39th Dist.), has three main provisions, with new requirements for:
1) safety elements of general plans;
2) tentative subdivision map approvals; and
3) the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines.
Each of these provisions is briefly summarized below. You can read the full text of the bill here: SB 1241.
General Plan Safety Elements. Upon each revision to the housing element on or after January 1, 2014, planning agencies must revise or update the safety element of the general plan to address the risk of fire in areas classified as State Responsibility Areas (SRA) and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ) by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The updated safety elements will need to take into account applicable provisions adopted by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR), as set forth in the most current version of OPR's Fire Hazard Planning document. Updated safety elements must be reviewed by the California Geological Survey and CAL FIRE prior to adoption. As established by AB 1241, the State is not required to reimburse local agencies for complying with these or other provisions of the bill.
Among other requirements, the updated safety elements will need to provide maps or other information about the general location and distribution of existing and planned development in SRAs or VHFHSZs; adopt policies for avoiding wildfire hazards; identify construction methods and materials for minimizing fire hazard; identify local, regional, and state agencies with responsibility for providing fire protection services within the jurisdiction; and more.
Tenative Subdivision Maps. Prior to approving a tentative map in an SRA or VHFHSZ, a city or county must make the following three findings, supported by substantial evidence in the record:
1) that the design and location of each lot in the subdivision, and the subdivision as a whole, are consistent with CAL FIRE regulations promulgated in Sections 4290 and 4291 of the Public Resources Code;
2) that structural fire protection and suppression services will be available for the subdivision, either by local entities or by CAL FIRE, under contract;
3) that ingress and egress for the subdivision meets the regulations regarding road standards for fire equipment access adopted pursuant to Section 4290 of the Public Resources Code.
This requirement also applies to a parcel map for which a tentative map is not required.
CEQA Guidelines. On its next revisions to the CEQA Guidelines after January 1, 2013, OPR in cooperation with CAL FIRE must amend the initial study checklist contained in Appendix G of the Guidelines to include questions related to fire hazard impacts on lands classified as SRAs or VHFHSZs.