RCRC supports Senate Bill 504, authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), which clarifies that defensible space should be maintained in the State Responsibility Area under all weather conditions and allows for a 3-year phase-in of new ember-resistant zone standards (Zone 0) for existing structures to account for staging of work and costs of compliance.

Proper implementation and maintenance of defensible space around structures at risk of wildfire can have tremendous impacts on preventing ignitions and stopping the community-wide spread of fire during a high severity wildfire event. However, property owners where structures currently exist may need some lead time to account for the costs of compliance and procure contractors to complete structural work where necessary to comply with new ember-resistant zone standards once they are adopted. This is particularly true in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities where property owners may have particular difficulty with the costs of immediate compliance with the new standards.

SB 504 addresses these issues by allowing a 3-year window of lead time for existing structures to comply with the ember-resistant zone standards once they are finalized by the state. This lead-time not only allows property owners the ability to account for costs and labor necessary to comply with the standards, but affords the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, county governments, and other relevant agencies valuable time to educate residents on the new standards and any assistance or programs that can aid them with meeting the requirements.

The bill recently passed out of the Senate and will be heard in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on June 10, 2024. RCRC's letter of support is available here. For more information, please contact Staci Heaton at sheaton@rcrcnet.org