The project is a comprehensive update to the Los Angeles County General Plan Safety Element to address projected impacts from climate change hazards by incorporating new adaptation and resiliency goals and policies. The proposed Safety Element Update aims to reduce the potential short and long-term risk of death, injuries, property damage, economic damage, and social dislocation from earthquakes, floods, and fire in the County’s unincorporated areas. Sections of the Safety Element Update include: Seismic, Fire, Flood, Emergency Services, and Climate Change. Adaptation and resiliency strategies based on the data of the Climate Vulnerability Assessment is incorporated into the Safety Element Update per Senate Bill 379. The project also includes an implementation ordinance to amend Title 21 (Subdivision Ordinance) and Title 22 (Zoning Ordinance) of the Los Angeles County Code to implement goals and policies of the Safety Element Update regarding wildfire. This ordinance aims to reduce damage to life and property from wildfires in unincorporated Los Angeles County.
Assembly Bill 747 (Levine, 2019) requires the Safety Element to identify evacuation routes and their capacity, safety, and viability under a range of emergency scenarios. Evacuation routes are determined by emergency responders who decide at the time of the emergency which routes should be used for evacuation after assessing the conditions and location of the emergency to avoid endangering the lives of others, personal injury, or death.
Senate Bill 99 (Nielsen, 2019) requires the Safety Element to identify residential developments that have fewer than two evacuation routes.
Goals and Policies for Seismic and Geotechnical Hazards
Goal S 1: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life and property damage due to seismic and geotechnical hazards.
Geotechnical Hazards Policy S 1.1: Discourage development in Seismic Hazard and Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zones.
Policy S 1.2: Prohibit construction of structures for human occupancy adjacent to active faults unless a comprehensive fault study is completed that addresses seismic hazard risks and proposes appropriate actions to minimize the risk.
Policy S 1.3: Require developments to mitigate geotechnical hazards, such as soil instability and landsliding, in Hillside Management Areas through siting and development standards.
Policy S 1.4: Support the retrofitting of unreinforced masonry structures and soft-story buildings to help reduce the risk of structural and human loss due to seismic hazards.
Goals and Policies for Climate Adaptation
Goal S 2: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life, and property damage due to climate hazards and climate-induced secondary impacts.
Policy S 2.1: Explore the feasibility of community microgrids that are driven by renewable energy sources to increase local energy resilience during grid power outages, reduce reliance on long-distance transmission lines, and reduce strain on the grid when demand for electricity is high.
Policy S 2.2: Plan for future climate impacts on critical infrastructure and essential public facilities.
Policy S 2.3: Require new residential subdivisions and new accessory dwelling units within hazard areas to meet required evacuation standards.
Policy S 2.4: Promote the creation of resilience hubs in frontline communities that are at high vulnerability to climate hazards and ensure they have adequate resources to adapt to climate-induced emergencies.
Policy S 2.5: Promote the development of community-based and workplace groups such as Community Emergency Response Teams to improve community resilience to climate emergencies.
Policy S 2.6: Promote climate change and resilience awareness education about the effects of climate change-induced hazards and ways to adapt and build resiliency to climate change.
Policy S 2.7: Increase the capacity of frontline communities to adapt to climate impacts by focusing planning efforts and interventions on communities facing the greatest vulnerabilities and ensuring representatives of these communities have a role in the decision-making process for directing climate change response.
Goals and Policies for Flood and Inundation Hazards
Goal S 3: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life, and property damage due to flood and inundation hazards.
Flood Hazards Policy S 3.1: Strongly discourage development in the County’s Flood Hazard Zones.
Policy S 3.2: Strongly discourage development from locating downslope from aqueducts.
Policy S 3.3: Promote the use of natural, or nature-based, flood protection measures to prevent or minimize flood hazards, where feasible.
Policy S 3.4: Ensure that developments located within the County’s Flood Hazard Zones are sited and designed to avoid isolation from essential services and facilities in the event of flooding.
Policy S 3.5: Ensure that biological and natural resources are protected during rebuilding after a flood event.
Policy S 3.6: Work cooperatively with public agencies with responsibility for flood protection and with stakeholders in planning for flood and inundation hazards.
Policy S 3.7: Infiltrate development runoff on-site, where feasible, to preserve or restore the natural hydrologic cycle and minimize increases in stormwater or dry weather flows.
Goals and Policies for Fire Hazards
Goal S 4: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life, and property damage due to fire hazards.
Policy S 4.1: Prohibit new subdivisions in VHFHSZs unless entirely surrounded by existing built development, will connect to public infrastructure, and the level of service capacity of adjoining major highways can accommodate evacuation. Discourage subdivisions in all other FHSZs.
Policy S 4.2: Ensure new subdivisions shall provide adequate evacuation and emergency vehicle access on both public and private roads which are evaluated for their traffic access or flow limitations, including but not limited to weight or vertical clearance limitations, dead-end, one-way, or single lane conditions.
Policy S 4.3: Ensure that biological and natural resources are protected during rebuilding after a wildfire event.
Policy S 4.4: Reduce the risk of wildland fire hazards through meeting minimum state and local regulations for fire-resistant building materials, vegetation management, fuel modification, and other fire hazard reduction programs within FHSZs.
Policy S 4.5: Encourage the use of climate-adapted plants that are compatible with the area’s natural vegetative habitats.
Policy S 4.6: Ensure that infrastructure requirements for new development meet minimum state and local regulations for, ingress, egress, peak load water supply availability, anticipated water supply, and other standards within FHSZs.
Policy S 4.7: Discourage building mid-slope, on ridgelines and on hilltops, and employ adequate setbacks on slopes to reduce risk from wildfires and post-fire, rainfall-induced landslides.
Policy S 4.8: Support the retrofitting of existing structures in FHSZs to meet current safety regulations, such as the building and fire code, to help reduce the risk of structural and human loss due to wildfire.
Policy S 4.9: Adopt by reference the County of Los Angeles Fire Department Strategic Fire Plan, as amended.
Policy S 4.10: Encourage the planting of native oaks in strategic locations and near existing oak woodlands, including those to be mapped in the Oak Woodlands Conservation Management Plan, to protect developments from wildfires, as well as to lessen fire risk associated with developments.
Policy S 4.11: Support efforts to address unique pest, disease, exotic species and other forest health issues in open space areas to reduce fire hazards and support ecological integrity.
Policy S 4.12: Support efforts to incorporate systematic fire protection improvements for open space, including the facilitation of safe fire suppression tactics, standards for adequate access for firefighting, fire mitigation planning with landowners and other stakeholders, and water sources for fire suppression.
Policy S 4.13: Encourage the siting of major landscape features, such as large water bodies, productive orchards, and community open space at the periphery of new subdivisions to provide strategic firefighting advantage and function as lasting firebreaks and buffers against wildfires, and the maintenance of such features by respective property owners.
Policy S 4.14: Encourage the strategic placement of structures in FHSZs that conserves fire suppression resources, increases safety for emergency fire access and evacuation, and provides a point of attack or defense from a wildfire.
Policy S 4.15: Encourage rebuilds and additions to comply with fire mitigation guidelines.
Policy S 4.16: Require local development standards to meet or exceed SRA Fire Safe Regulations, which include visible home and street addressing and signage and vegetation clearance maintenance on public and private roads; all requirements in the California Building Code and Fire Code; and Board of Forestry Fire Safe Regulations.
Policy S 4.17: Coordinate with agencies, including the Fire Department and ACWM, to ensure that effective fire buffers are maintained through brush clearance and fuel modification around developments.
Policy S 4.18: Require Fire Protection Plans for new residential subdivisions in FHSZs that minimize and mitigate potential loss from wildfire exposure, and reduce impact on the community’s fire protection delivery system.
Policy S 4.19: Ensure all water distributors providing water in unincorporated Los Angeles County identify, maintain, and ensure the long-term integrity of future water supply for fire suppression needs, and ensure that water supply infrastructure adequately supports existing and future development and redevelopment, and provides adequate water flow to combat structural and wildland fires, including during peak domestic demand periods.
Policy S 4.20: Prohibit new large general assembly uses in VHFHSZs unless entirely surrounded by existing built development, will connect to public infrastructure, and the level of service capacity of adjoining major highways can accommodate evacuation. Discourage large general assembly uses in all other FHSZs.
Goals and Policies for Extreme Heat and Drought Hazards
Goal S 5: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life, and property damage due to extreme heat and drought impacts.
Policy S 5.1: Encourage building designs and retrofits that moderate indoor temperatures during extreme heat events.
Policy S 5.2: Encourage the addition of shade structures in the public realm through appropriate means, and in frontline communities.
Policy S 5.3: Encourage the use of cooling methods to reduce the heat retention of pavement and surfaces.
Policy S 5.4: Ensure all park facilities, including recreational sports complexes, include a tree canopy, shade structures and materials with low solar gain to improve usability on high heat days and reduce heat retention.
Policy S 5.5: Encourage alternatives to air conditioning such as ceiling fans, air exchangers, increased insulation and low solar gain exterior materials to reduce peak electrical demands during extreme heat events to ensure reliability of the electrical grid.
Policy S 5.6: Coordinate with demand-response/paratransit transit services prior to expected extreme heat days to ensure adequate capacity for customer demand for transporting to cooling centers.
Policy S 5.7: Coordinate with local transit agencies to retrofit existing bus stops, where feasible, with shade structures to safeguard the health and comfort of transit users.
Policy S 5.8: Enhance and sustainably manage urban forests that provide shade and cooling functions.
Policy S 5.9: Promote greater awareness of the impacts of extreme heat exposure on the most vulnerable populations, such as seniors, people living in poverty, those with chronic conditions, and outdoor workers.
Drought Policy S 5.10: Protect and improve local groundwater quality and supply to increase opportunities for use as a potable water source during drought periods.
Policy S 5.11: Encourage the conservation of water by employing soil moisture sensors, automated irrigation systems, subsurface drip irrigation, and weather-based irrigation controllers.
Policy S 5.12: Encourage water efficiency in buildings through upgrading appliances and building infrastructure retrofits.
Policy S 5.13: Encourage the use of drought tolerant landscaping in new developments to reduce reliance on potable and recycled water resources.
Policy S 5.14: Encourage the installation of grey water reuse systems in new developments.
Goals and Policies for Human-made Hazards
Goal S 6: An effective regulatory system that prevents or minimizes personal injury, loss of life, and property damage due to human-made hazards.
Human-made Hazards Policy S 6.1: Assess public health and safety risks associated with existing oil and gas facilities in the unincorporated Los Angeles County.
Policy S 6.2: Prohibit all new oil and gas extraction wells in all zones, including those allowed or planned for under existing discretionary permits.
Policy S 6.3: Designate all existing oil and gas extraction activities, including those allowed or planned for under existing discretionary permits, as legal nonconforming uses in all zones.
Policy S 6.4: Coordinate with State and regional agencies to ensure funding and implementation of annual inspections, ongoing air monitoring, and health impact assessment data continue to be collected and used to prioritize and facilitate the timely phase out of existing wells.
Policy S 6.5: Support State and federal policies and proposals that increase funding sources to help plug, abandon, remediate and revitalize idle and orphaned well sites, and advocate for increased funding that will provide critical relief to the County and its residents.
Goals and Policies for Emergency Response
Goal S 7: Effective County emergency response management capabilities.
Emergency Response Policy S 7.1: Ensure that residents are protected from the public health consequences of natural or human-made disasters through increased readiness and response capabilities, risk communication, and the dissemination of public information.
Policy S 7.2: Support County emergency providers in reaching their response time goals.
Policy S 7.3: Coordinate with other County and public agencies, such as transportation agencies and health care providers, on emergency planning and response activities, and evacuation planning.
Policy S 7.4: Encourage the improvement of hazard prediction and early warning capabilities.
Policy S 7.5: Ensure that there are adequate resources, such as sheriff and fire services, for emergency response.
Policy S 7.6: Ensure that essential public facilities are maintained during disasters, such as flooding, wildfires, extreme temperature and precipitation events, drought, and power outages.
Policy S 7.7: Locate essential public facilities, such as hospitals, where feasible, outside of hazard zones identified in the Safety Element to ensure their reliability and accessibility during disasters.
Policy S 7.8: Adopt by reference the County of Los Angeles All-Hazards Mitigation Plan, as amended.
This project proposes amending the Land Use Element to add the following policy.
Policy LU 1.10: Prohibit plan amendments that increase density of residential land uses within mapped fire and flood hazard areas.
Implementation Ordinance to Reduce Damage from Wildfire
This ordinance proposes changes to Title 21 that could reduce the risk of personal injury or property damage in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ), and this ordinance also identifies amendments to Title 22 that could further reduce these risks.
Summary of Amendments 1. Revise the number of lots that can be located on a single point of access.
2. Amend the access requirements in Title 21 to ensure safer access to properties in VHFHSZs.
3. Modify the lot requirements in Title 21 to reduce wildfire risk for new lots created in VHFHSZs.
4. Amend Title 21 to better integrate fire risk into existing standards and procedures.
5. Revise provisions of Title 22 to support the proposed changes to Title 21, and to further reduce the risks of personal injury and property damage in VHFHSZs in a number of ways.