VERY HIGH FIRE HAZARD SEVERITY ZONE

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CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE, Section 51183.5

California law requires a seller to disclose to a prospective transferee of real property if the property is located within a very high fire hazard severity zone (a "VHFHS Zone") and, if it is, that the owner of the property is subject to certain statutory obligations specified in Government Code, Section 51182. Disclosure must be made if:

  • a seller (if acting without an agent) or the seller's agent has "actual knowledge" that the property is located within a very high fire severity hazard zone, OR
  • a map prepared by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (the "DFFP") that includes the property has been provided to the city or county, and a notice has been posted at the offices of the county recorder, county assessor, and county planning agency that identifies the location of the map and any information regarding changes to the map received by the county.
BACKGROUND
VHFHS Zones are determined by the Director of the DFFP and are those real properties that are not deemed to be a state responsibility pursuant to Public Resource Code Sections 4125 et seq. Identification of a VHFHS Zone is to be based on consistent statewide criteria and on the severity of fire hazard that is expected to prevail in those areas. VHFHS Zones are based on fuel loading, slope, fire weather, and other relevant factors.

The DFFP classifies real property in accordance with whether a very high fire hazard is expected to prevail in those areas so that public officials can identify measures that will retard the rate of spread and reduce the potential intensity of uncontrolled fires that threaten to destroy resources, life, or property, and to require that those measures be implemented.

It is important to note that, according to Government Code Section 51179, a "local agency" (defined as a city, county, city and county, or district responsible for fire protection within a VHFHS Zone) may make changes to recommendations made by the Director of the DFFP pursuant to Government Code Section 51178. This provision allows a local agency, at its discretion, to make changes to the boundaries of VHFHS Zones that may not be reflected on maps released by the DFFP. For more information on this provision, please contact your local agency.

ANY PERSON WHO OWNS, LEASES, CONTROLS, OPERATES, OR MAINTAINS ANY OCCUPIED DWELLING OR OCCUPIED STRUCTURE IN, UPON, OR ADJOINING ANY LAND THAT IS COVERED WITH FLAMMABLE MATERIAL AND IS LOCATED WITHIN A VHFHS ZONE HAS CERTAIN STATUTORY DUTIES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, CREATING FIREBREAKS, CLEARING VEGETATION MATERIAL, MAINTAINING A SCREEN OVER CHIMNEY OUTLETS, AND OTHER OBLIGATIONS. TRANSFEREE IS ADVISED TO CONSULT GOVERNMENT CODE, SECTION 51182 ET SEQ., FOR A COMPLETE LISTING OF ABOVE REFERENCED AND ADDITIONAL DUTIES.
PLEASE NOTE:
  • A parcel of property located outside a VHFHS Zone may still be subject to fires.
  • The location of a property with respect to a VHFHS Zone may be based upon maps approved by the DFFP, county or local fire authorities, or a combination of maps from these sources.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
  For more information, please contact the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (DFFP) in Sacramento or visit their internet site at http://www.fire.ca.gov/.

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