Sen. Dodd’s Defensible Space Bill Clears Committee

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would assist in wildfire prevention and response by increasing awareness of and compliance with requirements for vegetation buffer zones cleared a key committee Tuesday.

“With the kind of wildfire devastation we’ve seen around California in recent years, it is more important than ever to maintain defensible spaces around homes,” Sen. Dodd said. “Clearly, it can mean the difference between life and death. My bill will educate the public and local government about the importance of creating vegetation-free buffer zones to help families prevent wildfire damage.”

For more than 20 years, California law has required the clearing of grasses, trees, brush and other foliage from a 100-foot area around homes. It increases the probability of a house surviving a wildfire by eight-fold, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Unfortunately, few local jurisdictions have effective and ongoing defensible space education and enforcement programs.

Senate Bill 190 directs the State Fire Marshal to do the following to increase awareness and compliance with defensible space rules:

Develop a model defensible space ordinance for use by local jurisdictions.

Allow local jurisdictions to recover related costs if they choose to adopt a defensible space ordinance.

Provide an updated Wildland-Urban Interface building standards compliance training manual to local code enforcement personnel.

Develop a guidance document for the maintenance of defensible space around structures for consideration as amendments to the California Green Building code.

SB 190 cleared the Governmental Organization committee on a unanimous vote.  It heads next to the Natural Resources committee. The bill is co-authored by a bipartisan group of Assembly members consisting of James Gallagher, R-Yuba City; Tim Grayson, D-Concord; Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale; and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. 

“Creating defensible space is a critical factor in whether or not a home survives a wildfire," said Chief Stephen Akre of the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority. "I applaud Sen. Dodd for his legislative efforts that encourage and support people and communities to help protect themselves.”



Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at