Judge Denies Proposed Development in Fire-Prone Area

The decision could signal a new reluctance to allow development in wildland areas at high risk for fires.

1 minute read

February 23, 2022, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


California Wildfire

Jeff Turner / Wikimedia Commons

Despite the destruction caused by increasingly large and long-lasting wildfires in California in recent years, writes Thomas Elias, "development continued virtually unabated" in the state's wildland-urban interface. "Until early this year, when a judge in sparsely populated Lake County said 'No!' to a 16,000-acre luxury mixed-use project on land partly singed by past fires and partly deemed likely to flare up in future ones." 

As Elias reports, "The judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta and several environmental groups claiming the project could prove disastrous to both its own future residents and guests but also to present area residents." Explaining his ruling, Lake County Superior Court Judge J. David Markham said that "the development could close off or overcrowd fire evacuation routes, dooming many to death, as happened during the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County."

Elias criticizes state legislation that eliminates single-family zoning and permits increased density without requiring developers or property owners to build additional infrastructure to support extra housing units. Elias writes that infill development, and potentially the conversion of office buildings vacated during the pandemic into housing, should take priority over new development that puts communities at risk for natural disasters.

Monday, February 21, 2022 in Daily Press

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.