6 Principles to Manage Wildfire Risk With Effective Housing Policy

The connection between housing policy and climate change is made clear by the increasing damage of wildfires in California.

April 18, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


San Francisco, California

hkalkan / Shutterstock

An article by Amanda Brown-Stevens, Brian Hanlon, and Sarah Karlinsky lays out the unprecedented crisis of climate and housing in California and also offers a few policy recommendations to combat wildfire risk and save lives, homes, and communities. 

"The seven largest wildfires in recorded California history have all taken place in the last four years," they write. "At the same time, the state is experiencing a massive housing shortage, which is driving up the cost of housing and forcing people to move farther away from job centers in search of more affordable housing."

The article reflects a series of principles developed in partnership between SPUR, Greenbelt Alliance, and California YIMBY. The three principles read as follows, with more detail included in the source article.

  1. Support higher density growth in in-fill locations that aren’t impacted by wildfire risk
  2. Differentiate between different levels of wildfire risk and develop regional planning tools for determining fire risk to inform growth plans
  3. Don’t build new housing or job centers in areas of the highest wildfire risk as defined by regional planning processes such as the Sustainable Communities Strategy
  4. Develop guidance to inform how existing towns and cities with higher fire risk should approach growth and mitigation
  5. Harden existing structures and create defensible space requirements
  6. Align utility planning and insurance regulation policies with wildfire risk and growth plans. 

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