Senate Approves Sen. Dodd’s Defensible Space Inspection Bill

Monday, May 16, 2022


SACRAMENTO – The Senate today approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to encourage creation of defensible space, protecting life and property from California’s worsening wildfires.

“As we’ve seen already this year, climate-driven wildfires continue to threaten California communities, and we must take steps to protect ourselves,” Sen. Dodd said. “Clearing combustible fuels around our homes minimizes potential damage and the chances for fire to spread.  Measuring how well we are doing that is the focus of this bill. It will help us decide on potential life-saving investments to keep our families safe.”

In a report last fall, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office cited the creation of defensible space around homes and other structures as among the most valuable steps that can be taken to reduce the destructiveness of wildfires. Under existing law, homeowners in certain areas are required to create these fire-safe spaces. However, because of a number of factors, compliance and inspections are inconsistent from region to region, the LAO found.

Senate Bill 896 responds to the agency’s recommendations for increasing compliance and reducing future losses. It includes provisions to gather more information on defensible space inspections through improved data collection and to take initial steps to address other barriers to state and local defensible space efforts. It also supports additional research to identify effective strategies to improve defensible space compliance and to conduct oversight activities to learn from and inform future policy decisions.

Defensible space has been a high priority wildfire protection issue for Sen. Dodd for several years, beginning in 2019 with his authorship of SB 190 which directed the state fire marshal to develop model defensive space standards that local governments could voluntarily use as part of their zoning codes. 

SB 896 passed the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. It heads next to the Assembly.

“As fire season approaches, we need all hands on deck to help homeowners protect their properties,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor and county director for the University of California Cooperative Extension-Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “Utilizing defensible space best practices is a key component of wildfire preparedness.”




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