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Fighting Wildfires With Land Use Laws

More than controlled burns or flying water tankers, zoning could be the firefighters most powerful tool.

"A decade ago, in his highly controversial book Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster, Mike Davis warned that "market-driven urbanization has transgressed common sense. Historic wildlife corridors have been turned into view-lot suburbs, wetland liquefaction zones into marinas and floodplains into industrial and housing tracts."

No one listened. Southern California's population exploded. Development continued in utter disregard of topography or the environment. Plans are now underway to bisect a state park in San Diego with a toll road. Yet each fire or flood or other disaster is viewed by the media and politicians alike as an exceptional event, not the result of systemic failure by private capital, policymakers and government."

"These are not questions without answers, problems without solutions. Only the will is lacking. 'The key to firefighting is land-use planning, growth controls and prevention.' So said the head of the California firefighters. Some 60% of all new homes built during the last decade were in the American west. Much of this development has been in (and at the expense of) what were forests."

Full Story: Land Use in California: The Fire Next Time

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