Wildfire Risks Raise Concerns for Urban Communities

| February 6, 2022 | 0 Comments

Neighborhoods in urban San Diego are posed for serious wildfire concerns due to the recent rains, which help bring new growth to the canyons and open park areas, including Presidio Park which is adjacent to Old Town and Mission Hills.

After voicing their concerns with elected officials and local community groups for upward of two years, some neighbors are seeking assistance from the broadcast media to share the fire risks posed by the excessive overgrowth of dried (and sometimes dead/diseased) brush and trees (some fallen) as well as by repeated illegal encampments in the various canyons that criss-cross the dense residential communities. 

GetItDone reports with photos have gone unanswered, with no response.

While a few conscientious canyon-rim property owners have taken proper fire mitigation measures to create “defensible space” between their property and the public canyon space, there are still unfortunately many other owners of residential properties along canyon rims who have not done so.

Knowing that it can happen, residents worry about the chaos and potential loss of life that could occur during a mass evacuation of these communities – especially along many narrow streets. 

According to Anthony Tosca, deputy chief fire marshal, “I appreciate you raising the fire safety concerns and I hope that I may provide some assistance. After reading your email, I want to commend your proactive approach to self-mitigate to create defensible space. It’s also great to see you are trying to encourage neighbors to get involved. It is this type of community and fire department collaboration that makes our city more defendable against the wildfire threat we all face.

“A possible reason for a lack of response with the Get It Done app could be its not be the appropriate platform to fulfill certain requests. The Get It Done App is more of a tree on city streets or in need of trimming in a neighborhood.

“If you’re requesting abatement of trees and vegetation that might be best done through Wildland Management and Enforcement in my division.

Wildland Management and Enforcement | Fire-Rescue Department | City of San Diego Official Website. Here is the municipal code for reference:  http://docs.sandiego.gov/municode/MuniCodeChapter14/Ch14Art02Division04.pdf#page=25.

“I have copied my Senior Code Compliance Supervisor Marci Garcia regarding the residential areas of concern that you mentioned along canyon rims such as along Hortensia St (between Hickory & Whitman). If this is an area that needs abatement, she can assess it and follow up.

“I understand the concern regarding encampment fires. I am aware of a recent effort to relocate homeless individuals at these encampments and see they will accept shelter. As part of that effort, San Diego Fire-rescue reviewed recent dispatches to encampment fires in the past year and the GPS locations they are occurring. This may take some time, but I know there is an effort underway.

“I also understand there are some questions regarding the hazard assessment maps. These maps are released by Cal Fire and we anticipate them coming out soon. I have a request to see when they will be released. I hope this information useful and will address some concerns you’ve raised.”

Though the residents of Mission Hills and Old Town appreciate the recent response from Tosca, they believe that time is of essence and that acting promptly is critical in avoiding potential fires.

Dead trees and overgrown brush are worrisome for residents of Mission Hills and Old Town who fear the possibility of fires in the canyons.

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Category: Local News, Plants

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General articles by the Presidio Sentinel and Associated Partners.