PRESS RELEASE: Councilmember Ryu Introduces Legislation to Pause Construction in Fire-Prone Hillsides

LOS ANGELES - Councilmember David Ryu introduced legislation to temporarily halt construction in sensitive hillside areas within the Los Angeles Fire Department’s “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” which are at greatest risk for wildfire. The motion, seconded by Councilmember Paul Koretz, calls for a halt in construction on narrow hillside roads in fire-sensitive areas until November 30th, 2020.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 15, 2020

Contact for Councilmember Ryu:

Mark Pampanin

mark.pampanin@lacity.org

213.407.7616

Councilmember Ryu Introduces Legislation to Pause Construction in Fire-Prone Hillsides

LOS ANGELES - Councilmamber David Ryu introduced legislation to temporarily halt construction in sensitive hillside areas within the Los Angeles Fire Department’s “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” which are at greatest risk for wildfire. The motion, seconded by Councilmember Paul Koretz, calls for a halt in construction on narrow hillside roads in fire-sensitive areas until November 30th, 2020.

“This is a fire season like no other in our history, and Los Angeles is at unprecedented risk,” Councilmember Ryu said. “We must halt construction in our fire-sensitive neighborhoods and keep evacuation routes safe if we want to prevent fires locally while our resources are already strained.”

The motion seeks an emergency interim control ordinance to prohibit the issuance of demolition, building, grading, hauling and any other applicable permits relating to construction until November 30, 2020. The ordinance would apply to both the Hillside and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones where properties are located on streets with a single point of entrance and exit, on substandard streets, or where LAFD response time is seven minutes or more.

California is at the start of what is already the worst fire season in its history, with 3.3 million acres burned and 24 fatalities so far. Hillside construction, which almost exclusively is reserved for multi-million dollar homes, can pose a grave risk in fire season. One errant spark from a metal saw blade or other tool could ignite dry brush, while large trucks used for construction can block access to hillside neighborhoods, which often have only one narrow road to get in and out. 

Council District Four, which includes the hillsides from Griffith Park to Bel Air-Beverly Crest, has seen four hillside fires start in the last two weeks alone, including one burning in Beverly Crest at the time the motion was introduced.

Fire season typically lasts in California until the rains of late November, though sometimes rain does not come until mid-winter. A number of factors have created an unprecedented fire season this year, as prolonged drought and tree die-offs have been met with record-breaking temperatures to create a highly combustible situation.

The Bobcat Fire, burning about a dozen miles northeast of the city, exploded in growth over the weekend to 39,299 acres and 6% containment. Hundreds of homes are under mandatory evacuation orders in the north San Gabriel Valley, with thousands more under evacuation notice as smoke blankets the Los Angeles basin. 

Read the motion here.

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Assistant City Council President Pro Tempore David E. Ryu represents Los Angeles’ 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys.


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