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As fire season begins, hundreds remain non-compliant with weeds and long grass

Posted at 9:04 PM, May 02, 2019

Fire season is year-round and people across the Central Coast are required to clear brush and vegetation around their homes.

“We’re just encouraging residents and property owners to reduce any threat of fire by reducing vegetation in the front part of their properties,” Chief Steve Lieberman of Five Cities Fire Authority said. “Municipal code requires grass shouldn’t be more than four inches tall.”

This month, the Fire Authority is sending notices for people who are not in compliance after having all of April to clean up.

The program dates back decades when Arroyo Grande, Oceano, and Grover Beach had more spaces between homes and a higher fire risk.

More than 800 properties made the list this year that are identified as having a potential hazard.

Fire safety remains important, Lieberman said, though this effort requires man hours from the department.

“We spend significant staff time and taxpayer dollars not only to do inspections, and reinspections, but to hold hearings, protest hearings and eventually hire a contractor to abate non-complying properties and the only way to recoup those costs at the end of the process is by placing a lien through the tax assessors office in the county,” Lieberman said.

That means less time working on fuel management programs and emergency preparedness.

In 2018, out of the hundreds of properties notified for non-compliance, ultimately less than a dozen remained non-compliant, required a contractor, and paid the city for the costs.

While most towns have ordinances, San Luis Obispo County does not currently have a weed abatement ordinance in place.