County approves protest hearings for brush clearance program

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Santa Clarita Valley residents who want to see their properties removed from the Los Angeles County Brush Clearance Inspection Program will have a chance to lobby for that removal.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved protest hearings across the county at Tuesday’s meeting, with a hearing in Santa Clarita set for Feb. 24 from 9:30 a.m. until noon at Santa Clarita City Hall.

According to a news release from the office of 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 66,031 properties were flagged for brush clearance inspections in the district. The district, which includes the SCV, also contains the highest number of new properties for inspection, according to L.A. County Fire Chief Anthony Marrone.

Countywide, there are 17,400 new properties that were added to the list of properties needing brush clearance, as identified by two CalFire maps: a state responsibility map and a local responsibility map. The state map was recently updated, causing an increase in the number of affected properties, Marrone said.

“Those parcels represent dwellings that have up to four units on a single parcel,” Marrone said. “This brings us into alignment with CalFire. CalFire also does annual defensible space inspections, brush inspections, on properties that have one to four units. So, we did the same.”

Barger said her office has received calls over the past year from constituents wondering why their properties were part of the program and why they would have to pay a $151 fee for the inspection.

“I want to avoid running into the same problems this go-around,” Barger said. “So, I just hope that there were lessons learned from last year and we are better prepared for the process this year.”

According to Marrone, property owners who fall under the program should be receiving a letter from the L.A. County Fire Department at the beginning of February that goes into detail on how to protest. Property owners who were newly added to the list should be receiving a letter by the end of this week.

Essentially, property owners can explain to representatives from the county why their properties should be excluded from the list. Property owners will also be able to protest via telephone or Microsoft Teams, Marrone said.

A public hearing is set for March 12 in front of the Board of Supervisors to finalize the list of properties needing brush clearance.

Those who are determined to not be part of the final list will not be charged and there is a process in place to ensure that only properties on the final list will be inspected, Marrone said.

Property owners who do not abide by the protocols of the brush clearance program and require more than two notices of abatement are subject to a $990 cost, according to a letter from the county Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures.

Santa Clarita City Hall is located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.

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