Wildfires are a significant threat to the residents, structures and coastal ecosystem of Laguna Beach. The Laguna Beach Fire Department's mission, in partnership with the community, is to create a wildfire resistant landscape and buildings through proactive wildfire mitigation efforts.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFIRE) has identified areas of extreme wildfire risk throughout the state, and designated them as Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ). Laguna Beach has 87% of the land area within the VHFHSZ. While much of it is open space, approximately 65% of the City's buildable property is within the VHFHSZ.
The focus of the Laguna Beach Fire Department's Vegetation Management is on publicly and privately owned parcels within the VHFHSZ.
Vegetation Management is the controlling of plant materials year-round for the prevention of fire spread by removing dead and dying fuels, thinning heavy brush, maintaining an ember resistant zone, and trimming or removing trees that could contribute to a fire's spread toward the structure. The Laguna Beach Vegetation Management practices are implemented and enforced in four primary ways. They consist of Weed Abatement, Fuel Modification for Development, Defensible Space, and Fuel Break construction and maintenance.
Weed Abatement is conducted annually in the spring for parcels in the developed portion of the City, and throughout the year for removal of dead vegetation and invasive species as specified in Ordinance #1510.
Fuel Modification for Development
Fuel Modification for Development is applicable to all new construction and major remodel projects in the FM Zone (as designated by City GIS), with specific guidance in the 2019 LBFD Landscape/Fuel Modification Standards and Maintenance Program. All homes built under this Standard or previous versions are required to be maintained in the approved fuel modified state for perpetuity.
Defensible Space is applicable to all properties in the VHFHSZ with structures constructed without conformance to any development required Fuel Modification Standard or Guideline.
Fuel Break Program
The Fuel Break Program protects a large portion of the inland side of the City that is adjacent to open space. It also covers many interior canyon areas, and is currently in process of expansion to South Laguna, Park Avenue, and lower Bluebird Canyon. The fuel breaks are maintained by goat grazing and hand crews.
Free Wildfire Consultation
The Fire Department offers a Free Wildfire Consultation service for all property owners within the City. Please contact us to schedule the site visit.