STAYING THE COURSE: THE GENERAL PLAN 25 YEAR LATER
In The Beginning
In September 1973 the major challenge facing the new City of Rancho Palos Verdes was getting control of land use. Bulldozers had already cleared the way for an apartment complex on 54 acres of land at Palos Verdes Drive West and Hawthorne. In the pipeline were projects such as a 450 unit apartment complex on 55 acres on PV Dr. West between Berryhill and Rue Beaupre; and, 90 units on 7.5 acres between the Porto Verde Apartment complex and the ocean near Marineland. These are just a few of the projects that were reported by the Palos Verdes Peninsula News in January 1972. A race was on between the City and the developers and owners of large areas of coastal property. It seemed like our coastline was destined to high-density development. On September 21, 1973, just fourteen days after taking office, the City Council imposed a moratorium on construction within the City; this brought the bulldozers to a screeching halt.
While the moratorium gave the City time for a breather, the pressure was now on to devise a land use plan for the entire City. The residents wanted such a plan to preserve the natural contours of the land, put a limit on multi-family units and impose low-density regulations. This control was achieved with the adoption of the General Plan in June of 1975, less than two years after incorporation.
Since that time, the General Plan has served to preserve the “Peninsula lifestyle” that was cherished by the residents of our new city. Included in this lifestyle was noise minimization, traffic control, development of well located vista points, encouragement of and funding for the study and preservation of unusual flora and fauna, and support for the identification of archaeologically sensitive areas and sites.
Honed from testimony by residents at numerous public hearings and from countless study sessions conducted by volunteers on the Planning Advisory Committee and the General Plan Goals Committee, the General Plan reflects concern not only for protecting and preserving City resources, but for those of the entire region.
What does the record look like after nearly 25 years of managing land use under the General Plan? What changes have taken place? Where do we stand now?
Have the limits on density and development been sustained?
Housing Stock: Past and Present
“Growth in Rancho Palos Verdes should be a cautious, evolutionary process that follows a well-conceived set of general guidelines which respond to both holding capacity limitations for the region and environmental factors on the Peninsula.” (Gen. Plan, Pg. 56)
In 1960 the area that was eventually to become the City of Rancho Palos Verdes had about 3,700 dwelling units: all were single family homes. A decade later, that number had nearly tripled to an estimated 8,678, including 981 multi-family units. At incorporation, there were thought to be 10,342 dwelling units, 8,876 of which were single family and 1,564 multi-family.
By the time the General Plan was adopted, an estimated 11,600 dwelling units existed in the City. The annexation of Eastview in January of 1983 added 2,201 single family and 398 multi-family units. Recent data from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) indicates that there are currently 15,121 housing units.
City records show that since incorporation, only 1,259 units have been approved for construction including those currently being built: 63 units in the Sea Breeze tract on Crest Road; 79 houses in the Oceanfront Estates on Palos Verdes Drive West near Hawthorne Boulevard; 75 homes scheduled to be built in Ocean Trails; and, Peninsula Point on Palos Verdes Drive South where 43 houses were completed within this past year. Of these 1,259 homes, only 848 were constructed after the 1980 census.
Open Space: Increase in Public Ownership
The City has taken advantage of many opportunities to increase the amount of open space either through leasing arrangements, outright purchase or through the mitigation process on development of private property. This has resulted in a considerable increase in open space under public ownership and control.
When adopted, the General Plan identified 445 acres of regional park facilities and 137.2 acres of local parks or “soon to be created” parks. The City has since acquired 454.65 acres of park and open space. The biggest acquisition was the Forrestal Quarry area purchased in 1996. Another was the open space area in the “switchbacks” along Palos Verdes Drive East. That land was dedicated to the City as a condition of the Sea Cliff Hills residential project.
Additional open space acquired includes the fields at Portuguese Bend which are leased from the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District and are used for a variety of recreational activities including soccer and softball. On the eastside, acreage leased from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District has been developed as a park.
General Plan Amendments – Why Are They Necessary?
Even though it was written almost twenty-five years ago, the General Plan is still remarkably relevant. This might be interpreted as a monument to the wisdom of
those who wrote it. To-date, there have been sixteen amendments to the Plan. Two of the amendments increased residential density in the Peacock Ridge area and in a small tract (eight lots) located on Indian Valley Road near Hawthorne Blvd. The remainder of the amendments cover a variety of land use matters ranging from the Housing Element policies to inclusion of Eastview. There have been no amendments since 1991 and none increasing residential densities since 1982.
In June, after two years of public hearings, numerous meetings with environmental groups and the compilation of biological data, the City Council approved the preferred “alternative preserve design” for the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCP). The goal of the NCCP is to provide protection of natural wildlife diversity while allowing compatible land use and appropriate development and growth. That design proposes preservation of nearly 1,300 acres of privately owned land. When finally approved by State and Federal resource agencies, it will become an amendment to the Natural Element section of the Plan.
Sustaining the Limits on Density and Development
In the past twenty-one years, the City has acquired 454.65 acres of its current 1036.85 acres of parks and open space; the NCCP design will add more. During that same period, the City has approved the subdivision of lots that will accommodate 982 single-family homes and 277 multi-family homes. The Villa Capri townhouses located at Hawthorne Blvd. and Palos Verdes Drive South was the last multi-family project approved by the City Council. No residential subdivisions have been approved since 1992; those under construction along the coastline and elsewhere in the City were approved prior to 1992.
Preservation of the Peninsula Lifestyle
“Rancho Palos Verdes enjoys a climate and air quality considered as being among the ideal climates in the world.” (Gen. Plan, Pg. 7)
“The Palos Verdes Peninsula has long been extensively recognized for its beautiful shoreline and rich, abundant marine life.” (Gen. Plan, Pg. 24)
Air quality, a great climate and a beautiful shoreline are resources and features that make RPV a very desirable place to live, hence the City’s strong stewardship over development and density.
Prior to incorporation, unrestrained land use put commercial and high-density development on a collision course with the Peninsula lifestyle. Adherence to the General Plan has saved us from becoming another high-density coastal community without a separate identity. When adopted, it was assumed that 2,528 additional dwelling units (2,299 single family and 240 multi-family) would be “induced” under the Plan’s guidelines. Since then, City records show that only 1,259 units, including multi-family, have been constructed. Parks and open space have increased by 432.75 acres. When approved, the NCCP design will add even more acreage. The additional open space acquisitions will bring the land under public ownership in Rancho Palos Verdes (not including school property, landscaped street medians, parkways, and trail easements) to about 25% of the total land area of the City. Most of this land is in its natural state.
The General Plan it is not an immutable document, but instead is one that has to be fine-tuned periodically to reflect the changes and circumstances of community needs and lifestyle changes. Even after twenty-five years, our General Plan still reflects the goals and community values existing at the time of incorporation that defined the Peninsula lifestyle.
A PRIMER ON YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL
Within a few months the L. A. County Treasurer and Tax Collector will be sending out property tax bills to City residents. To a non-bureaucrat, interpreting this bill can be a challenge. For instance, do you know what the WB MWD Stdby Chg is? Or, you might wonder what does the County Park District do for me as a resident of RPV? Well, here’s the low-down.
Detail of Taxes Due
General Tax Levy – All Agencies: This is the first item that appears under the “Detail” column and the amount represents one percent of the taxable value of your property. This money goes directly to the State. Less than seven percent of that one percent is returned to the City: that money goes into the General Revenue fund. Total annual revenue to the City from property taxes is about $2.8 million and most of it is used to pay for public safety.
Charges in this column are the result of voter approval of certain “measures” that have appeared on the ballot for various elections. These measures are either State, County or Local and seek financing to pay for improvements or repairs to infrastructure such as storm drain and sewer systems.
County – This money pays for bonds that financed a County detention facility.
Metropolitan Water District (Metro Water Dist.) - This portion of your taxes repays voter-approved general obligation bonds which financed the construction of facilities that provide water to So. California, including the MWD’s Colorado River Aqueduct and the State Water Project.
Los Angeles County Flood Control (Flood Control) – This charge results from a bond measure approved by the voters at a special election in 1979 and pays for a specific storm drain project.
Palos Verdes Library District (Palos Verdes Lib) – In 1991 voters in the Palos Verdes Library District approved a $16 million bond measure to pay for expansion and improvements for the Library District.
These assessments pay for services that benefit real property. For instance, in November of 1996, a County measure entitled “The Safe Neighborhood Parks Act” sought funding for neighborhood and regional parks and recreation areas. The voters approved that measure and, as a result, the City has received funding for the improvements at Lower Hesse Park and for the expansion of the Pt. Vicente Interpretive Center.
L. A. County Flood Control (Flood Control) – These funds pay for the maintenance and operation of the flood control system in the entire County.
Landscaping & Lighting District (Land/Light Dist.) - This is a City assessment and pays for the on-going operation, maintenance and servicing of median landscaping, street trees, street lighting and traffic signals.
L. A. County Hazard Abatement – This agency is responsible for fire prevention such as the removal of weed and brush from unimproved property.
Los Angeles County Consolidated Sewer Maintenance – These monies are used to operate the local sewer system serving this area.
County Sanitation District (SANITATION #5) – The City is part of the County Sanitation Districts that serve the wastewater and solid waste management needs of Los Angeles County. This agency operates and maintains the large trunk sewer lines that are linked to local sewers and laterals.
West Basin Municipal Water District Standby Charge (WB MWD STDBY CHG) –This charge pays the annual revenue bond debt for building a treatment facility and distribution system for recycled water.
Los Angeles County West Mosquito Abatement District (LA WEST MOSQ AB) – Serving the western portion of Los Angeles County, this district makes policy concerning the eradication of vectors such as mosquitos, rats and the Africanized honey bee.
Los Angeles County Parks District (COUNTY PARKS DIST) – Approved by the voters in 1992 and 1996, this money is used to finance several park improvement projects throughout the County.
Los Angeles County Fire Department (LA CO FIRE DEPT) – Approved by the voters in 1997, this money is used to support the Fire Department in providing emergency paramedic rescue, fire fighting, search and rescue and hazardous materials and disaster response.
When you get past the “Total Taxes Due” line and still have questions about your statement, look on the reverse side, it is filled with information about the assessment and appeals process.
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With a continuing strong economy combined with the judicious use of resources, the City Council was able to adopt a balanced budget on June 1st. . This budget provides for both the normal operating expenses and a significant capital improvement program that includes projects such as a City-wide residential street overlay program and median improvements.
For the first time in the City’s history, this year the Council adopted a two-year budget that will guide expenditures through June 30, 2001. With a built-in six month review and adjustment schedule, this budget will enable the City to plan its financial condition on a longer range basis than the traditional one year cycle.
General Fund Revenues
For fiscal year 1999-2000, the City is projecting General Fund revenues of over $11,000,000. As a result of the steadily improving economy, General Fund revenues have increased nearly 10% in the past four years. Something that cannot be ignored, however, is the fact that the majority of this increase (6.5%) is due to the issuance of building permits. As development is completed, revenues will level off because property tax, sales tax, vehicle license fees and the utility users tax generated from the new development will not equal the permit fees generated by this construction activity.
On a more positive note, the potential revenues from the Ocean Trails Golf Course could give the City a strong new source of general funds. Current projections for revenue are conservative pending its opening which, of course, has been delayed due to the recent landslide activity in the area.
Significant Program Changes
During a series of five budget workshops the Council heard from dozens of residents and, as a result, added new or expanded programs. Expenditures of note include:
Expansion of Point Vicente Interpretive Center. The budget includes $2,684,500 of Proposition A, Environmental Excise Tax and Quimby Act funds for the expansion of the Center.
Employee Salaries. Funds have been included for the adjustment in salary ranges for sixteen job classifications and authorizes merit increases not to exceed 4.5% of the annual payroll.
Grants. This budget includes a first time financial assistance for the Palos Verdes Symphonic Band and increased grants to Peninsula Seniors, South Bay Youth Project, Peninsula Pet Rescue, Community Helpline, Peninsula Symphony and the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Special Assignment Officer. The proposed budget authorizes adding a third SAO under the Citizens Option for Police Services/Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (COPS/LLEBG) program.
General Fund Balance
The budget includes projected balances for all City funds. Based on these projections the General Fund Balance is expected to increase over the next two years. The General Fund balance is the most reliable predictor of the City’s financial health because these are unrestricted funds and can be spent for any purpose. Others, such as the Gasoline Tax, Recycling revenue and Quimby Act funds, can be used only for specific purposes. Over the two-year budget cycle, the balance for the General Fund is projected as follows:
June 30, 1999 June 30, 2000 June 30, 2001
$4,714.168 $5,057,255 $6,100,387
The City believes that a $5 million General Fund year-end balance (approximately 50% of annual General Fund revenues) is an adequate reserve for cash flow needs and for emergencies. The two biggest financial risks are a significant downturn in the economy or confiscation of City revenues by state government.
The City Council has established a goal of reducing the Utility Users Tax prior to the start of Fiscal Year 2000-2001. The decision to implement a tax cut will be contingent on actual revenues and expenditures realized over the next twelve months. With continued conservative fiscal management, the City should be able to continue to provide cost-effective services to our residents through economic cycles, state and federal policy vacillations and technological changes.
How to Get Rid of Those Black Birds
The Peninsula is fortunate to be host to a variety of birds. Their songs, soaring flight, and natural beauty provide enjoyment and recreation for many of our residents. Unfortunately, some bird activities may conflict with human interests, namely bird droppings and noise. This past year, many residents have complained about the number of crows roosting in the City. A major problem with crows is that they feed on smaller birds and their eggs.
Facts on Crows
The crow population on the Peninsula has steadily increased over time, largely due to the lack of a natural predator. Crows are omnivorous and will eat just about anything, including beetles, caterpillars, snakes, eggs, and young birds as well as plants, fruits, and nuts. Easily identified by their coal-black plumage and their “caw-caw” call, crows are similar in appearance to ravens. Their larger, wedge-shaped tail and soaring or gliding flight pattern, however, can distinguish common ravens.
There are two general approaches to dispersing bird roosts: habitat modifications that exclude or repel birds and the use of frightening devices. Subtle modifications to your tree foliage can make a difference in attracting or discouraging certain birds to roost. Crows and ravens prefer sturdy tree branches and less foliage so they can swoop in and out; smaller birds prefer dense foliage for protection. Another tactic is to place netting or widely spaced lines or wires around smaller areas needing protection. Remove any sources of food such as pet food, grains, seeds, or fruit. According to wildlife experts, bird dispersal resulting from these modifications can produce a lasting effect.
Amusement parks and farmers commonly use frightening devices such whirling flashing lights or mirrors reflecting sunlight, water sprays, tethered balloons, hawk silhouettes and other auditory and visual devices. Prior to initiating any bird frightening operations, consider coordinating with your neighbors.
According to the Department of Agriculture, successful use of these devices depends upon timing, persistence, organization and diversity. No single technique is guaranteed to solve the problem.
Since crows tend to roost together at night and disperse during the day to feed, the Dept. of Agriculture recommends that any frightening devices be implemented when the crows begin to fly “home to roost” (approximately 1 ½ hours before dark). Generally, birds are easier to frighten while they are flying. Once the crows are perched in the tree, they are in a protected environment and are difficult to scatter.
Another method is to have an animal trapper remove crows from private property. Residents can investigate the services of a private trapper by checking the listings in the telephone directory under pest control, bird control, and animal trappers.
For more detailed information prepared by the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture on Bird Dispersal Techniques and the American Crow, you may contact City Hall at 310-377-0360 ext. 206 to request a copy of their publications.
When the year 2000 arrives at midnight on December 31st some electronic equipment and computers with date sensitive software or chips (microprocessors) may malfunction. This technology problem, known as “Y2K” or the “millennium bug”, has prompted all levels of government, private institutions and businesses to examine their operating systems to identify and correct any potential Y2K problems.
Earlier this year, the City replaced its computer network with a system that is certified Y2K compliant. Sometime during the fall, the City will also upgrade its telephone and voice mail system to be Y2K compliant. These changes have been made to avoid interruptions in service to our residents and to protect the City’s records. With these changes completed by December 31st , the City will be ready to move into the year 2000 without fear of the millennium bug.
THE GREAT CITY HALL TUNE IN
Want to know what’s going at city hall? Find out by watching the City Council meetings live on Channel 3 every first and third Tuesday at 7:00 P.M.
Meetings are rebroadcast the following Friday at 7:00 PM.
To promote greater public awareness of our local cable programming, Rancho Palos Verdes will be joining other cities throughout California and Nevada during the week of October 17th to celebrate “The Great City Hall Tune In” campaign.
During that week, the City will be holding a very special City Council meeting on October 19, 1999. Keep an eye on Channel 3 and the City’s web site (www.palosverdes.com/rpv) for more information about this event!
Technomarketing Waste Management, Inc.
Coach USA/California Charter
GOLD STAR SPONSORS
York Long Point Assoc. Rolling Hills Riviera HOA
The Admiral Risty Bay Cities National Bank
Ocean Trails Golf Club SA Associates
America’s Tire Co. Wells Fargo Bank
La Cresta HOA Lower Rockinghorse Assoc.
Mediterrania HOA Eastview Townhouse Assoc.
Ridgegate East HOA Pacific View HOA
El Prado Estates HOA PVP Horsemans Assoc.
Marie Callenders The Kennel Club Resort & Spa
Calif. Water Co. Hilltop Automotive
Palos Verdes Family & Immediate Medical Center
Palos Verdes Bowl Ruby’s Diner
Terrace 6 Regal Cinema Long’s Drug
Trader Joe’s Rolling Hills Animal Hospital
Bristol Farms Dominos Pizza
Armstrong Garden Center Fantastic Sam’s Miraleste Hills Homeowner Association
Airplane Noise Update
The Federal Aviation Administration Task Force that was established to address the excessive noise pollution from LAX air traffic has announced plans for a Flight Demonstration Project. At the urging of residents and City officials, the FAA will implement on a trial basis offshore departure routes for commercial turboprop jets--—otherwise known as commuter planes.
Currently, flight path for turboprops headed south—or eastbound from LAX —fly over the Peninsula. Under this demonstration project, they will fly three miles out over the ocean from the Peninsula coastline and then cross over Orange County, possibly over the Cities of Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. Barring any complications, this demonstration is anticipated to begin sometime in November. Before these offshore departures can be established as permanent routes, however, they must pass an environmental review and be approved by the FAA.
The FAA will be meeting with elected officials from all of the communities impacted by the proposed change and will be providing a public notice and comment period.
Resistance from either the communities impacted by the proposed routes or the airline industry could be detrimental to the City’s high hopes for relief from excessive air traffic noise.
For more information on the FAA Task Force, you may view the FAA website at www.awp.faa.gov. Your comments and feedback are important to the City.
Have you observed any difference in the level or frequency of aircraft noise? If so, please call the FAA at 310-725-3638 and LAX at 310-646-6473 or, leave a message at City Hall at 310-377-0360 (ext. 206 after-hours).
A citizen group called Peninsula Aircraft Noise/Safety Information Committee (P.A.N.I.C.) is also working on solving this problem. Residents interested in participating in PANIC should call City Hall for more information.
The City of Rancho Palos Verdes, through the use of Community Development Block Grant funds, is offering a Home Improvement Program to low and moderate income residents of the City. Applicants must be owner occupants of a single family detached dwelling and residents of the City to be eligible for participation in the program. If you are in need of improvements to your home, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes can help. Improvements such as the repair/ replacement of roofing, painting, heating, plumbing, windows and other such repairs are eligible.
The Home Improvement Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for the cost of the repairs. In addition, the City provides deferred loans up to $10,000 with zero percent (0%) interest for work above and beyond the grant amount. This loan is payable upon the sale of the home or transfer of title. Persons whose income is less than $28,750 for a one-person household and 32,850 for two-persons are eligible. For income limits of larger households, additional information or an application, you can contact Mr. Rudy Munoz at (310) 541-6500.
Residents who are interested in trash and recycling services should plan on attending the October 5th City Council meeting. At that meeting the City Council will be considering proposals from eight solid waste haulers. Staff will be presenting their recommendation on service options and refuse haulers.
- During the past three months the City Council has taken the following action
- Awarded recycling/beautification grants totaling $71,389 to 31 homeowner associations.
- Approved the exchange of Proposition “A” Funds with the City of Torrance to help finance the expansion of Pt. Vicente Interpretive Center.
- Approved the preferred alternative preserve design for the NCCP program.
- Natural Communities Conservation Planning
- Adopted a two-year budget program
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April: No Changes.
May: There will be no trash pick-up on Memorial Day, May 31. There will be a one day delay in all services. Trash scheduled for Monday, May 31 will be picked-up on Tuesday 6/1: Tuesday trash will be picked-up on Wednesday 6/2; Wednesday trash will be picked-up on Thursday 6/3; Thursday trash will be picked-up on Friday 6/4; Friday trash will be picked-up on Saturday 6/5. There is no change to the Saturday pick-up schedule.
June: No Changes.
IVY RUBBISH DISPOSAL
April, May and June: No Changes.
Help the City stay clean. Do you change your own car oil?
You can get free containers to help you. 1) Oil drip containers to be placed under your car while you drain the oil; 2) One-gallon containers for used motor oil which can be left at the curb for pick-up by your recycling truck driver; 3) funnels; and 4) floor mats to be placed under your car while changing the oil. This sturdy cardboard will help keep your garage and driveway free of oil drips. Call you hauler (Waste Managment at 768-3111 or Ivy Rubbish at 530-2899) and they will deliver the item(s) to you free of charge, or you can pick them up at City Hall.
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Privatized recreation classes for the Spring Session will be held at City parks. Residents interested in attending these classes may pick up registration information at Hesse Park, or call any of the following instructors.
Cherie Ackerman (310) 547-5073Tap and Children's Combo Dance classes (4 years - Adult)Vi Ballard (310) 373-9740Mommy & Me (Birth to Crawling)Christina Beato-Lanz (323) 665-7887
New! Parents and Baby - evening class (Birth to 1 year)New! Beginning MeditationAnn Bosma (310) 375-2064Aerobic Dancing: Lite Impact (Adult)Magda Cianciara (323) 466-1195Yoga (Adult)Herb Clarkson (310) 377-6342Amateur Radio class (Teen/Adult)Stan Corzine (310) 318-2690Tai Chi Chuan (Teen/Adult)Jacquelyn Fernandez (310) 377-2965Exercise & Dance Fitness (Adult)Kristen Janikas (310) 967-1328New! It’s a She Thing (Girls 10-14 years)Kaplan Education Center (800) 527-8378
New! Hip Hop Hooray (5-8 years)PSAT-SAT Classes (Grades 9-12)Sean McRoberts (310) 792-9159Tennis -Beg./Int./Adv. (7 years-Adult)Jeanne Murphy (310) 377-8507
Pee Wee Tennis (4-6 years)Ladies Exercise (Adult)Sachiye Nakano (310) 544-1624Awareness Through Movement - Feldenkrais Method (Adult)Barry Sacks (310) 519-4622
Bones for Life (Adult)Mommy & Me (18 - 30 months)Suika Education, Inc. (310) 323-5221
Wee Tots (2 1/2 - 4 years)
Spring Outdoor Adventures (5-10 years)Suika Baby Club (Birth - 3 years)Carla Walker (310) 521-9741Tennis for Youth (2-10 years)If you are interested in teaching classes at any of the City's parks, contact the
Facility Coordinator at Hesse Park at 541-8114.
THAT DRY BRUSH IS WAITING TO BURN!
The warm, dry climate and semi-rural landscape that has attracted us to the Palos Verdes Peninsula brings with it the potential for disaster each summer and fall. Although we have been very lucky here on the Peninsula in recent years, almost every year since 1982 wildfires in California have resulted in either gubernatorial proclamations of a state of emergency or presidential declarations of a major disaster. Among the worst years in state history was 1993. Twenty-one separate fires raged in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties. Between October 26 and November 7, the blazes caused 4 deaths and 162 injuries, destroyed more than 1,200 structures and consumed almost 200,000 acres. To bring the fires under control and prevent additional losses, more than 15,000 firefighters were deployed in the largest mutual-aid call-out in California history.
In order to reduce your risk of fire-related death, injury or property damage, it is important to conduct a fire hazard hunt at your residence. Take the following steps to make the environmental outside and inside your home safer:
Outside Your Home
Inside Your Home
- Clear dry grass, brush and leaves out of your yard.
- Remove dead limbs located over roofs and all limbs within 10 feet of chimneys.
- Prune lower limbs within 6 feet of the ground on all trees 18 feet high or taller to keep ground fires from spreading to trees.
- Thin out heavily wooded areas.
- Remove weak, dead or leaning trees.
- Vary the heights of plants, shrubs and trees and provide adequate spacing between them.
- Keep plans, shrubs and trees away from power lines.
- Use fire-resistant plants to landscape.
- Clear debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts.
- Relocate firewood at least 30 feet from all structures and 10 feet from vegetation.
- Keep gas and propane tanks at least 30 feet from all structures and 10 feet from hazards.
- Replace wood shake and other combustible roofing materials with noncombustible materials.
- Cover chimneys and stovepipes with non-flammable ½ inch or less mesh screens.
- Box and enclose roof eaves that extend beyond the exterior walls of the house.
- Cover all attic and ridge vents with non-flammable ½ inch mesh screens.
- Make sure the address number of your house is clearly visible at the curbside.
- Make sure your smoke detectors are made and certified by an approved lab.
- Install smoke detectors on ceilings inside each bedroom and in the hallway on every level.
- Test detectors at least once per month.
- Change the batteries every six months.
Plan for Evacuation
- Ensure that fire extinguishers are approved by an independent testing lab.
- Place fire extinguishers in easily accessible locations.
- Teach responsible family members where they are located and how to use them.
- Remember the word P-A-S-S when using the extinguisher:
- Pull the pin.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames.
- Squeeze the trigger.
- Sweep the chemical side-to-side to extinguish the fire.
What to Do When a Fire Occurs
- Develop and practice an evacuation plan for your home. Your plan should include:
- A floor plan with all escape routes
- Easily accessible exits for young children, seniors and persons with disabilities. Locate their rooms as close to exits as possible.
- A list a valuables to take in an emergency. Store them together in one place if possible.
- A place to reunite after evacuation.
- The location of animal shelters or other site that house pets.
- Work with neighbors to assist:
- People with special needs.
- People who need transportation to other sites.
- Work with local emergency officials to identify:
- Several routes out of your neighborhood.
- Likely evacuation sites.
If a fire occurs while you are inside, remember the following:
- Call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher where you are.
- Feel the top and bottom of the door with the back of your hand before exiting. Cautiously open the door if it is cool. Do not exit if the door is hot. Try your alternate exit instead. Repeat this step at every closed door.
- Close doors behind you when evacuating to slow down flames, smoke and heat.
- Help young children, seniors and persons with disabilities evacuate.
- Close the door and stay in the room if fire, smoke or heat are blocking all of your escape routes.
- Keep smoke and fumes out by stuffing cracks around doors and vents with sheets, blankets, etc.
- Open a window if no smoke is entering the room and place a sheet or cloth outside as a signal for help.