The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee Tuesday signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-resistant building codes, particularly for new structures in high wildfire-risk areas.
"California wildfires are deadly and can spread incredibly quickly when winds carry embers miles away,'' said City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who introduced the measure. "Year-round fire season is now our reality and we must do everything in our power to save the lives of Angelenos if disaster strikes close to home, including building safer and smarter to resist the flames.''
Dense population centers like downtown and Hollywood have stronger building codes to withstand fires through the use of treated wood or other building materials, Blumenfield said.
The proposal specifically instructs the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Department of Building and Safety to prepare an ordinance that would expand Fire District 1 downtown to include all areas within the city covered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Very High Fire Severity Zone and the city's High Wind Velocity Zone, as well as areas with a population density of at least 5,000 residents per square mile.
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It also instructs the departments to create a fire-resistance plan for all new and significantly altered projects that are more than 150,000 square feet and/or 100,000 square feet if the building is over 30 feet tall.
"We can't wait until the next fire to start safer construction practices,'' Blumenfield said, adding that one of his staff members had to evacuate during the Getty Fire early last month. "It's unfair to her and all Angelenos if we as a city do not implement stronger building codes to help protect homes and property. Lives depend on it.''
A date for when the City Council will hear the proposal has not yet been scheduled.