Defensible Space

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008, the Poway City Council adopted the Wildfire Defensible Space program by passing the 2nd reading of the ordinance and amending Chapter 8.76 of the Poway Municipal Code. The ordinance became effective September 19, 2008.

This program provides a no-fee home assessment for property owners at risk from wildfires. A no-fee permit will also be required for vegetation thinning and reduction prior to work being started.

Purpose
This service allows city staff to work hand-in-hand with property owners to develop a specific plan to lessen the risk of wildfire and comply with environmental guidelines. Full implementation of the program was accomplished in January of 2009 to allow for increased staffing needed to deliver this new program.

The program's purpose is to save homes during wildfires by reducing flammable vegetation around structures by creating what is often referred to as "defensible space." The creation of defensible space is an important part of the city's comprehensive strategy to lessen the devastating impacts of wildfire. Reducing highly flammable vegetation will shorten the flame length and reduce the speed and intensity of a wildfire. It will also enhance firefighter safety and reduce the risk of burning embers penetrating structures.

Scope
The program will be conducted citywide, and includes city, state, special district, utility, and privately-owned land where structures are within 100 feet of highly flammable chaparral.

Therefore, the focus will be on areas where chaparral is found near structures and would typically include the very high fire hazard areas (PDF), and exclude the center portion of the city or more developed areas of the city. Streambeds, banks, and vernal pools are areas excluded from this program.

The program only targets the reduction of highly flammable chaparral species and annual weeds. It does not include ornamental landscaping, nor does it include common species such as palm or eucalyptus trees. Trees that are dead or dying may be required to be removed if they are determined to create a fire hazard.