Every fire season, inspectors prowl around our hills and make sure that property owners aren’t lax about maintaining defensible space between vegetation and homes. It’s easy to violate codes with such verdant growth here.
We live within the Oakland Wildfire Prevention District, which is classified as a very high hazard severity zone. The big hills fires appear like clockwork, and the last one happened 18 years ago. That means we (well, you) need to keep the potential tinder at bay.
Starting June 15th, the inspectors begin checking our compliance with California Fire Codes. There are full-timers assigned to homes within Montclair, and they visit properties unannounced all summer. They are looking for “bad” vegetation growth and more, as depicted in this video.
So it’s time to get your property cleared out! Otherwise, the City of Oakland will charge $275 if you don’t meet codes and require a re-inspection.
Here are the official things you need to do:
- Maintain a 30-foot fuel reduction zone around all buildings/structures; more may be required. Cut grass to 6 inches or less. Shrubs need to be maintained.
- If property is greater than 1/2 acre, maintain a 100 ft. defensible space/fuel reduction zone from all buildings and neighboring structures; more may be required.
- Maintain a 10-foot minimum clearance next to the roadside; more may be required.
- Remove all portions of trees within 10 feet of chimney and/or stovepipe outlets.
- Maintain a 10 feet minimum horizontal clearance of tree crowns from any structure.
- Maintain the roof of any structure free of leaves, needles or other dead/dying vegetation.
- Maintain trees adjacent to structures free of dead/dying vegetation. Remove dead/dying vegetation from property.
- Remove all tree limbs within 6 feet of the ground.
- Wood chips must not be deeper than 6 inches (no piles).
- Provide Street address numbers that are clearly visible from the roadside: minimum height 4 inches, in a contrasting color.
- Storage of firewood shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from structures and separated from the crown of trees by a minimum horizontal distance of 15 feet.
Hauling The Debris
All this compliance translates into a lot of yard debris. Of course, trimmings should be placed in your green cart for weekly pick-up.
Extra trimmings will get picked up, at no extra charge, if you place them in your own container (under 35 gallons) or deposit them in a brown paper bag next to your cart. You can also bundle a few branches no larger than 4′ long for pick-up. Nothing in plastic bags here!
To handle seasonal efforts, you may take advantage of a free curbside tree and brush chipping service. You need to leave branches no greater than 4” in diameter, stack them in piles no greater than 4’ by 4’ long, and have no more than two stacks per pick-up. Please call the chipping crew in advance, at 510-238-7388.
If you are dumping more debris regularly, then it’s possible to pay $7.59 monthly for a second green cart. For those who do clean up in one fell swoop, you may want to arrange a one-time bulky pickup. For any additional services, call Waste Management at 510-613-8710.