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Community Planning is key to reducing vulnerability to wildfires. Your defensible space in the home ignition zone within the first 100’ of your home may overlap with neighbors’ properties in small lot neighborhoods. You may find your home ignition zone overlaps into adjacent properties or neighbors’ properties onto yours. To maximize the benefits of your work, it is extremely important to work collaboratively with neighbors to understand how fire is likely to reach your community, to understand the nature of your shared risks, and to work together to reduce those risks.

diagram showing the overlap of defensible space zones with neighboring properties

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Your home itself is the greatest source of potential threat to your neighbors if it ignites. The heat and embers from a structure fire are greater than any vegetation area of similar size. Protect your home from ignition to help protect your community.

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Property Line

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The defensible space on your property

Your defensible spaces extends into neighboring properties.

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1A. The outermost part of your thinning zone extends onto a neighbor’s undeveloped property with native coastal sage or chaparral. Consider fire  mitigation measures (e.g. fireproof deflection wall). You can also ask permission of the property owner and use minimum impact thinning techniques.

1B. The outermost part of your thinning zone occurs across your neighbor’s ember-resistant, intermediate, and thinning zones. Your neighbors’ work to protect their own home will provide similar protection to your home.

A neighbor’s defensible space extends onto your property.

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2A. The outermost thinning zone for your neighbor’s home falls outside of your own defensible space zone. This requires cooperation between  neighbors and depends on the property owner’s goals for their landscape and the risk posed by the vegetation. Options available include a deflection  wall, vegetable garden or orchard, irrigated native landscaping and minimum impact thinning techniques.

2B. A small area of your neighbors thinning zone falls next to, but outside of your own thinning zone. It would make sense to treat this area in the  same manner as your own. In some jurisdictions you may be responsible for maintaining a defensible space for your neighbor’s benefit.

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Parcels of land larger than the 100’ sustainable defensible space zone

3. On parcels of land that extend beyond 100’ from the dwelling, the type of vegetation, terrain, and local regulations may require additional thinning beyond 100′. The Los Angeles County Fire Department may require up to 200’ of defensible space. Get in touch with your local Fire and Planning Departments before modifying  any native vegetation more than 100’ from the home.

Native vegetation is often protected by regulations, so do not remove previously unmodified habitat without first contacting your local County planning department for specific limitations and processes.

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Undeveloped neighboring parcels

4. Undeveloped parcels with native habitat should be conserved  wherever practicable to maintain ecosystem services such as slope stabilization, water filtration, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat.

CAL FIRE – Ready, Set, Go!
CAL FIRE – Create a Wildfire Action Plan
California Fire Safe Council – Community Wildfire Fire Protection Plans
City of Los Angeles – Ready Your LA Neighborhood (RYLAN)
Los Angeles County Fire Department – Ready! Set! Go!
North Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council – Preparedness Guides
Ventura County Fire Department – Ready! Set! Go!
Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness – Topanga Disaster Survival Guide
University of California, Department of Agricultural and Natural Resources – Community Action & Involvement
Washington Emergency Management Division – Map Your Neighborhood

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