Defensible space for Tahoe property owners now required |

Defensible space for Tahoe property owners now required

Gov. Jim Gibbons Monday signed legislation that requires property owners in the Tahoe Basin to maintain defensible space to reduce the spread of wildfires.

Gibbons said the measure was a product of the bistate fire commission formed after the Angora Fire which destroyed more than 200 homes on the California side of the basin. It is the same as the proposal being considered in the California Legislature for that state’s share of the basin.

“It will enable homeowners to better prepare for catastrophic wildfires that occur in our forests – especially in the urban interface,” he said.

He said the legislation is designed to standardize the rules for clearing defensible space around homes and other structures, eliminating the “countervailing policies ever so prevalent in the Tahoe Basin.”

“There’s been so much resistance to anything man made in our forests that catastrophic fires can neither be controlled nor prevented without this legislation,” he said.

SB94 mandates that property owners including public entities clear defensible space and gives the state the power to enforce the rules.

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Michael Brown said giving that power to the state was important because it puts teeth in the law small local jurisdictions haven’t had the ability to enforce.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to make some property owners take care of their property.”

Brown said the law applies to both public and private property including state lands.

Conservation and Natural Resources Director Allen Biaggi said the legislation requires the law be enforced by the state fire marshal, the forestry division and the basin’s fire chiefs.

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