Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityWildfire Risk: Study looks for solutions for fire prone areas in California | KRCR
Close Alert

Wildfire Risk: Study looks for solutions for fire prone areas in California

Town of Paradise, CA. (KRCR){p}{/p}{p}{/p}
Town of Paradise, CA. (KRCR)

Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

A recent study shows more than 1 in 12 homes in California are located in high fire-risk areas.

The researchers included the City of Paradise in their study as they looked into new approaches to rebuilding as well as reducing the risk of fire in the future.

Founder of the non-profit Next 10, Noel Perry, commissioned the study done by UC Berkeley. Researchers found what the co-benefits can be by connecting land-use, insurance, zoning, and displacement.

They interviewed people living in Paradise and came up with alternatives for rebuilding.

One of the scenarios the study found to be useful was the idea of the community rebuilding some housing in the high-risk areas but incorporating wildfire mitigation features including development clusters surrounded by defensible space.

Perry said the California Insurance Commissioner is looking into new policies and recommendations for fire-prone areas like Paradise something the Insurance Commissioner's office denies.

According to a statement from the Insurance commissioner's office, "Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara supports a competitive private insurance market that will continue to cover all Californians including in areas that are fire-prone."

Here are the findings from the scenario analysis:

The “Managed Retreat” scenario would do the most to reduce the number of homes at risk from fires: in Santa Rosa, a managed retreat reduced the number of dwelling units in fire hazard zones by nearly 54%; in Ventura, by 52%.

“Managed Retreat” and “Resilience Nodes” planning scenarios both offered the most environmental benefit.

  • A managed retreat of housing units in Santa Rosa could reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by nearly 19% and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per household by nearly 40%. Rebuilding with resiliency in mind through the “Resilience Nodes” scenario would reduce emissions by more than 15% and VMT per household by 20%.
  • In Paradise, a managed retreat offered the greatest potential environmental benefits: GHGs would be reduced by 6% in that scenario, with VMT per household declining by 6%, as well.
  • With a managed retreat, Ventura could see emissions decline by more than 12%, and VMT per household by more than 17%. “Resilient Nodes” would offer nearly 6% reduction in emissions while reducing VMT by 12% per household.

And rebuilding with resiliency in mind could offer economic benefits, aside from reducing risk and providing environmental benefits.

  • Per household, costs—including transportation, energy, and water—would decline in all “Managed Retreat” and “Resilience Nodes” scenarios by as little 6% and as much as nearly 37%.
  • While rebuilding after a fire will create construction jobs and increase economic output in any planning scenario, “Resilient Nodes” offered the most economic benefit: supporting about 96,000 jobs and $7 billion in economic output in Santa Rosa, supporting 57,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in Paradise, and supporting nearly 37,000 jobs and $5 billion in increased economic output in Ventura.
In terms of insurance and what the commissioner, his committee is looking at, is making suggestions to the California Legislature to really not insure houses that are in fire prone areas if people decide to continue to live there after a major fire, Perry said.

He added another aspect they are looking into is less rebuilding in fire-prone areas.

The office of the Insurance Commissioner added that Lara is "Pressing insurance companies to expand their coverage in the WUI and rural California where non-renewals have increased and to offer premium discounts to homeowners who mitigate their properties against wildfire losses, for instance by reducing vegetation and installing ember-resistant eaves. He also is working with the Governor's Administration to reduce wildfire risk that is making it more difficult for people to obtain coverage."

Perry also added there is no perfect answer for the best way to rebuild, but he believes the study was proven successful in identifying ways these fire-prone communities can rebuild and move forward.


Comment bubble

To report errors or issues with this article please email the editorial team.

Loading ...