For Immediate Release,
April 5, 2022
LOS ANGELES— The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an update to the county’s general plan today that limits new development in wildfire hazard zones, reducing regional risk as California braces for what could be another intense fire season.
The board unanimously approved the Safety Element Update, which restricts new subdivisions in very high fire hazard severity zones and prohibits amendments that would increase residential density in fire- and flood-prone areas. These development restrictions in specified zones reduce harms to people, property and wildlife.
“Los Angeles County leaders made sensible policy changes that recognize the seriousness of a prolonged wildfire season,” said Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “By putting commonsense limits on building in the most dangerous and fire-prone areas of the county, we’re planning for a safer, more sustainable future.”
Nearly all contemporary wildfires in California are caused by human sources such as power lines and electrical equipment. Continuing to develop in fire-prone areas without restrictions would increase ignition risks and fire-suppression costs, the Center says.
The Safety Element complements the Housing Element, which outlines solutions to the region’s affordable housing crisis by upzoning infill areas near public services. L.A.’s updated plan sets a critical precedent that proves that safe and smart land-use planning is possible, the Center says. Development restrictions in fire-prone wildlands also keep certain wildlife habitats intact and protect the region’s biodiversity.
“Southern California is starting to shed its sprawl reputation and embrace smarter land-use decisions,” said Reid-Wainscoat. “I hope other decision makers will follow suit and pass similar measures to keep their communities safe.”