Keep Compliant With Fire Code

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.

Fire Code - Out Of Compliance

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.

Compliance Requirements

Here are the official things you need to do:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Maintain a 10-foot minimum clearance next to the roadside; more may be required.
  4. Remove all portions of trees within 10 feet of chimney and/or stovepipe outlets.
  5. Maintain a 10 feet minimum horizontal clearance of tree crowns from any structure.
  6. Maintain the roof of any structure free of leaves, needles or other dead/dying vegetation.
  7. Maintain trees adjacent to structures free of dead/dying vegetation.  Remove dead/dying vegetation from property.
  8. Remove all tree limbs within 6 feet of the ground.
  9. Wood chips must not be deeper than 6 inches (no piles).
  10. Provide Street address numbers that are clearly visible from the roadside: minimum height 4 inches, in a contrasting color.
  11. 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.

More info:   Oakland Wildfire Prevention DistrictPrevention VideoClean-up ServicesHomeowner FlyerOakland Recycles

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Get Yer Second Bulky Pickup

Step right up, and get yer second bulky pickup from Waste Management.

Yes, your spring cleaning dreams can finally come true.  Typically your friendly garbage guys make one “free” bulky pickup as part of their annual service.  In 2009, they are giving out 500 extra pickups to first comers – and you’re eligible if this is your second request of the year.

Oakland - Bulky Pickup

Recycled and non-recycled bulk items can be hauled away.  So now there’s no excuse to keep junk sitting in your laundry room, stuffed into closets, or shoved into unused spaces.  Outside gardening detritus is accepted too.

If you haven’t done this much before, then get ready to focus on your pickup logistics.  The rules say you must tightly arrange your stuff on the curb, and less than a day before the pickup time.

Each pickup is restricted to three cubic yards, which equates to a 3x3x9 foot area or twenty 32-gallon bags.  If you go over the allotted volume, then Waste Management charges $25 per extra cubic yard.

We suggest you check out Oakland Recycles as well as their instruction pamphlet.  Then call Waste Management at 510-613-8710, to ask any questions and schedule your bulky pickup.  The thrill of less awaits you.