By Dave Druker
Mayor, City of Del Mar
It has been a little over a year since the threat of a wildfire was driven home to all residents of Del Mar. The City Council has worked closely with the fire department and the community to develop a plan to protect the residents and their homes.
One of the city's pro-active steps has been the adoption of updated building and fire codes. The city recently adopted the codes the State of California had previously adopted and made them more restrictive in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas of Del Mar. Construction features of new structures will reduce the risk of fires starting in our city and spreading to adjacent properties. One of the most significant changes is the requirement that all wood-shingled roofs be eliminated by January 2013.
Another significant step in protecting the city from fires has been the implementation of a proactive approach to fire safety in the Wildland Urban Interface. The city of Del Mar has one of the most aggressive WUI management programs in the county in order to prepare the community in the event of the next wildfire.
Another step the City Council took was to approve the re-hiring of a retired Del Mar Fire Department captain - Tom Wolf. Tom, with the support of the three fire team shifts, has inspected approximately 184 of the over 300 properties that are located in Del Mar's WUI. Once the inspection is completed, Tom will document his findings and educate the residents with the support of the fire team as to the requirements to reduce fire dangers. The most common issue being found is too much vegetation located too close to homes. Tom will then monitor the progress of the homeowner to assist with compliance of the city's WUI code with the support of our code enforcement officer. All homes in the WUI will be inspected in order to meet compliance with the code.
Another aspect of the program is fuel reduction on public lands. Recently, city officials from both Del Mar and San Diego met together to collaborate on better management of vegetation in Crest Canyon. In addition, we are in the process of evaluating all city lands to make sure they are compliant with WUI codes. The first reduction is scheduled for early November in the pocket park north of Hoska Drive between Crest Road and Klish Way. Work on other city properties will follow once this work is completed. The council adopted fire prevention as one of their key strategic priorities and funded approximately $50,000 for vegetation management for city properties.
In order to assist property owners who have had their property inspected and want to comply with the code, we will have a second week of fuel removal specifically for homes in the WUI. This will allow property owners that have had their property inspected and had vegetation removed to place the plant clippings in bins provided by the city at no cost to the homeowners. The exact dates will be publicized once final arrangements have been made.
The potential of a wildfire reaching our city is always present and the best way for us to prepare is before the fire ever reaches our boundaries. It is the intention of the city to minimize the potential for loss of life and property if a wildfire occurs. If you have any questions or would like to arrange a safety inspection of your home, please contact the Del Mar Fire Department at (858) 704-3661.