Our current efforts to promote more attention to wildfire prevention include:
Toward an East Bay Regional Vegetation Management Joint Powers Authority
It is time for a new, more effective, regional approach if the East Bay Hills are to be safe from future wildfires. If vegetation in our area is to be well managed to reduce the threat of wildfire, the necessary expertise, workforce and financial resources must be assembled over a broad enough area to be effective. Local agencies with all their present responsibilities unfortunately lack sufficient breadth and resources to adequately address the problem. Coordinating vegetation management among all the East Bay local public agencies is an impossible challenge without a mechanism to lead that effort. Website: eastbaywildfirejpa.org
Just as we have special districts in the Bay Area to manage air quality, water quality, and regional planning and transportation, it is time to create a wildfire prevention district to manage vegetation and dramatically reduce the fuel that causes the spread of wildfires in our wildland/urban interface (WUI). Local government agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties can create a joint powers authority to accomplish this. See in-depth info.
Toward a More Adequate 10-year Oakland Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Report
The City of Oakland is completing its 10-year Vegetation Management Plan for city-owned properties within the wildland-urban interface, along with an environmental impact report (EIR). From the very beginning, the Oakland Firesafe Council has protested that the plan is too narrow and does not address the new reality of stronger winds leading to longer flame lengths and embers flying further distances and into tree crowns; faster fires that are harder to extinguish; long-term drought, climate change and a recent pathogen killing large swaths of acacia, cypress and eucalyptus in the East Bay Hills. We have proposed adding a 5th Alternative to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as the preferred alternative that would provide a real, actionable plan that is environmentally, fiscally and politically sustainable.
Making Wildfire Prevention a City-wide Priority
In 2019, the Oakland Firesafe Council successfully promoted a unanimously approved City Council Resolution (link to pdf of resolution) that made Wildfire Prevention a City-wide priority—not just the responsibility of the Oakland Fire Department. Since then, the City Administrator has established an Interdepartmental Wildfire Prevention Task Force that has tackled such issues as smoking, fireworks and gunshots by large groups congregating along Grizzly Peak and Skyline Blvd. lookouts; making our streets more fire safe; establishing a process for park stewards to be able to use power tools when maintaining their adopted city spaces; and better transparency and communication with the public.