City Council Wants YOUR Input on Revised Fire Clearance Guidelines

Update: July 5th - We've heard residents express disbelief and suspicion that their input is wanted after several years of poor treatment of residents and all resident volunteer committees and commissions ended by the City Council.

Well, we have a new Mayor, Brian Bergman, and he has changed the tone at Council meetings from trying to silence residents to wanting to hear from them. Leadership comes from the top and it would be consistent to see a change to the City looking for your input before they do something.

So.... take advantage of the opportunity and let them know what you think!

At the June 13, 2011 Weed Abatement Forum, the Fire Chief promulgated new rules on clearance requirements.

Since that time, residents have raised concerns and questions over certain aspects.

The City responded fairly quickly with new Draft Guidelines (Below) and is seeking YOUR input.

It is encouraging that the City is reaching out for resident comments and suggestions.

From the City Website:
"The City Council is requesting that members of the general public who would like to suggest changes, additions, or subtractions to these guidelines please email City staff person Carl Vos at with your thoughts. All are welcome to participate."


• 3+ Acre lot needed to plant trees. New rule says trees cannot be planted within 200 feet of structure. What does this mean?

In this example, it means you need a 4.6 acre lot before you could even plant a tree at the edge of the lot, but your neighbor would also need to be at least 200 feet away from your new trees.
(Math - 450 feet x 450 feet = 202,500 square feet ÷ 43,560 (an acre) = 4.65 acres)

Do we really want a treeless landscape to reduce fire danger?

• Remove common, but flammable, garden plants such as Cypress, Fountain Grass,
Large Juniper, Eucalyptus, Pines, and other Conifers.

• Problems with new Roadside Clearance program not addressed.

• Problems with new Canyon Clearance program not addressed


La Habra Heights is in a very high fire hazard severity zone. Although it’s not possible to
eliminate every fire hazard the following checklist should be adhered to:
• Remove needles, leaves, or other vegetative material from the roof of any structure.
• Remove or trim all vegetation (including live vegetation) a minimum of ten feet from
chimneys or stovepipes.
• Keep landscape and acreage clean: remove litter under trees and shrubs, prune out all
dead wood. Note: Will have to say something about avocado leaves being exempt
• Remove dead and dried portions of ground covers and succulents.
• Leave space between shrubs and trees to prevent fire spread.
• Avoid continuous tree or brush canopies.
• Separate native shrubs by removing adjacent plants.
• When planting, limit the number of specimen trees and shrubs within 30 feet of any
• Tree crowns should not overhang the roof and should be pruned high enough to avoid
ignition by a ground fire.
• It is recommended that trees be planted a minimum of 200 feet from any structure and on
the bottom two-thirds of any slope below a structure.
• Where possible, remove problem trees such as eucalyptus, palms and pines.
• Remove dead limbs, litter, pine cones, dead fronds and loose bark from the ground as well
as from the trunks of eucalyptus, palm and pine trees.
• Mulch is responsible for 1000’s of fires in the United States each year due to spontaneous
combustion therefore it should be layered no deeper than 3 inches and kept at least 18
inches from residential buildings, wooden fences, or any other area susceptible to fires
• Do not create or store mulch in piles. Mulch can harbor fires for many days before the fire
reaches the surface and becomes apparent to the homeowner.
• Use pea gravel or other fire-safe types of mulch near barbeques, electrical wiring, and
around gas meters.
• Ensure that all decorative garden and other lighting near the ground is safe for landscape
lighting purposes
• Store hay at least 30 feet from any residential structure (May want to add performance
standards or guidelines here)
• Within 200 feet of structures remove common garden plants that have proven particularly
flammable due to high brush buildup and foliage oils such as Cypress, Fountain Grass,
Large Juniper, Eucalyptus, Pines, and other Conifers.
• Consider planting the following fire resistant and drought tolerant plants from the web site: (Please note, these plants may not be effective for slope

See document on City website and pictures of fire resistant and drought tolerant plants