Land Use Planning Program

Department: CAL FIRE

Program Description: CAL FIRE’s Land Use Planning Program assists local governments (cities and counties) throughout California as they address the risk from wildfire by planning for both existing and new development.

Program staff work with local governments and CAL FIRE Units on topics ranging from Safety Elements of General Plans, development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), State/Local Hazard Mitigation Plans (SHMP/LHMP), Subdivision Review identifying communities at risk and providing recommendations on fire safety via Assembly Bill 2911 (Friedman, 2018), and assist communities to become recognized through the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program. The CAL FIRE Land Use Planning Program resulted from Senate Bill 1241 (Kehoe, 2012). 

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is partnering with the UC extension program and will deploy land use planners within critical cities and counties to support their wildfire preparedness activities and emergency plans. 

Program Impact: The Wildfire and Forest Resilience funding augmented staffing to provide local technical assistance in community wildfire mitigation and land use planning. These staff helped increase the number of communities surveyed through the AB-2911 Subdivision Review Program. Additionally, these staff will assist CAL FIRE with the rollout of the new fire hazard severity zone maps to the counties with the SRA and cities with moderate, high, and very high fire hazard severity zones in the LRA. 

Resilience in Action: The CAL FIRE Land Use Planning Program works with 56 counties in the SRA and 189 cities within the LRA with development of their Safety Element which includes policies, goals, and objectives that protect the communities from the risk of wildfire. The Safety Element of the General Plan will also link (attach or reference) other planning documents such as CWPPs and LHMPs as needed. Since the inception of the program, more than 150 safety elements have been successfully updated through collaboration with our program. Additionally, California has nearly 650 Firewise USA recognized communities throughout the State. This program has nearly doubled the number of communities in the last couple years leaving CA number one leader in the nation. The Firewise program is a community volunteer-based program that outlines the efforts of the community members to organize and prepare for wildfire.