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Posted on: June 19, 2019

Managing Potential Fire Fuels After the ‘Super Bloom’

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While the plentiful winter rains brought colorful spring blooms and lush green hillsides to the City of Poway, it also brought something else: potential wildfire hazards.

Once the flowers and tall grasses dry out, they transform into fire fuel in a city that is no stranger to wildfires. Poway takes pride in its abundant open space and has multiple programs to keep residents safe by minimizing fire hazards.

The city’s Vegetation Management Program focuses on keeping tall weeds, dry grasses, dead shrubs, and dead trees under control to minimize fire hazards during the dry season (typically May through November). The program is specific to pre-identified properties in the annual program managed by the city’s Development Services Department. The program allows property owners the choice of completing the maintenance themselves or requesting that the city complete it with the cost paid through annual property taxes.  

The Wildfire Defensible Space Program allows city staff to work in partnership with property owners to develop a plan to lessen the risk of wildfire and comply with environmental guidelines. The program’s purpose is to save homes during wildfires by creating what is often referred to as “defensible space.” It targets reducing highly flammable chaparral species and annual weeds within 100 feet of all structures. 

Property owners notified by the city are required to complete the vegetation reduction within 30 days. Residents and property owners that are unsure of the location of mandatory brush reduction areas on their property should contact Poway’s Code Compliance division for more information.

If a resident is concerned about weeds on a neighbor’s property, the city encourages neighbors to work with neighbors first. If concerns continue, a complaint may be filed with Code Compliance and staff will determine if a letter should be sent to the property owner requiring the weeds to be removed. An online form is available to forward concerns to Code Compliance,  or you may email them at codecopliance@poway.org.   

Know Your Native Habitats

Properties in Poway have several native habitats that are home to a number of federally protected, sensitive, rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Native vegetation includes, but is not limited to, grassland, sage scrub, chaparral, and wetlands. 

Vegetation management within native habitat areas may be limited. When in doubt, contact the city at (858) 668-4664 for help in identifying areas on your property that you may need to avoid.

Dos and Don’ts for Managing Vegetation

  • Do cut weeds by mowing or weed whipping. Weeds and grasses should be cut low to the ground and removed, while leaving the roots intact to prevent erosion.  
  • Don’t use a spray weed killer to eliminate vegetation, as it leaves an abundance of dried weeds that create a fire hazard.
  • Don’t use disking to remove weeds. Because of recent restrictions placed by the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, disking is no longer an acceptable method of vegetation management.
  • Do remove dead shrubs and trees from the property.
  • Do make sure that anyone using mechanical equipment to remove vegetation has immediate access to an operable water-filled fire extinguisher.

For more information

Go to “Vegetation Management” to learn about the annual vegetation management program. Go to “Defensible Space” to learn about creating defensible space on your property.


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