The planning history of Paradise, California is blamed for the destruction of the city in the Camp Fire. Can planners find new models for both limiting carbon emissions and preparing for the effects of climate change?
A bombshell feature by the reporting team of Paige St. John, Joseph Serna, and Rong-Gong Lin II reveals the role of poor planning in the destruction and carnage of the Camp Fire in the city of Paradise, California in November.
Without flinching, the beginning of the story sets the stage in stark terms:
The fate of Paradise was cast long before a windstorm last month fueled the deadliest fire in California history.
The ridge settlement was doomed by its proximity to a crack in the mighty wall of the Sierra Nevada, a deep canyon that bellowed gale-force winds.
It was doomed by its maze of haphazard lanes and dead-end roads that paid no heed to escape.
An earlier article published in the Los Angeles Times about how the city's emergency preparation saved potentially thousands of lives is quickly swept under the rug in this telling of the story of the Camp Fire. This Los Angeles Times investigation "found that Paradise ignored repeated warnings of the risk its residents faced, crafted no plan to evacuate the area all at once, entrusted public alerts to a system vulnerable to fire, and did not sound citywide orders to flee even as a hail of fire rained down."
The most damning findings of this investigation are directed toward the land use and transportation concepts that both placed the city in harm's way and then cut off residents from reasonable hope of escape. One potentially contentious focus of the investigation is a nearly decade-old project to narrow the main evacuation route in the city, the Skyway, due to concerns about a spate of pedestrian injuries.
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