Don't approve housing development that increases wildfire risk
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California’s wildfires are only getting worse, yet San Diego County is considering approval of a housing development that fails to provide adequate roads for evacuation during a fire and doesn't meet the fire code, in one of the county’s riskiest wildfire-prone areas.
Join me in telling the San Diego County Board of Supervisors that housing developments that unnecessarily risk the lives of residents and firefighters during wildfires should not be allowed in San Diego County.
West of the city of Escondido and south of San Marcos is the small, rural community of Harmony Grove. My family lives there and 11 of our neighbors lost their homes there during the Cocos Fire. Bordered by the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and Del Dios Highlands Preserve, it is rated a very high fire hazard severity zone by CAL FIRE.
Now a Colorado-based housing developer wants to build 453 homes in Harmony Grove, on a plot of land zoned for 25, with only one dead-end road to evacuate on during a fire. State and county fire code requires high-density housing on extended dead-end roads to provide secondary access. The proposed Harmony Grove Village South (HGVS) development has a dead-end road over 5x the maximum allowed length and no plans for a secondary exit.
The developer has asked for an exception to the fire code claiming the area’s steep topography, wildland fuels, environmental issues, distance to connecting roads, and easement rights made a secondary road infeasible.
The fire code isn’t something you throw out because logistical or financial constraints made it inconvenient to the developer.
The developer wants the profit from forcing 453 homes into that space, without footing the bill for the corresponding additional infrastructure required to make the housing project safe.
There are 60 existing homes that rely on the current road to evacuate. With the added 1,500 to 1,800 vehicles expected from the HGVS development and only one road, a best-case evacuation time would take at least 1.5 hours.
Modeling predicts that wildfires in the area can spread at 17 mph, so the development and its evacuation route can become encircled by a wildfire in less than five minutes.
On July 25, 2018, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will decide on whether to allow this development and its unprecedented exception to the fire code. Join me on this petition and tell the supervisors we do not need housing developments that endanger residents, firefighters, and emergency responders.
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