TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Tulare County Thursday touring the KNP Complex along with signing Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s bill regarding landowner’s defensible space and fees.
The legislation allows landowners to sell lumber they remove while clearing defensible space without having to pay a timber harvesting fee.
Patterson said it’s a savings of up to $55,000.
“People now have a real affordable option to be much safer and to be able to afford to do the kinds of things that will keep their home from burning down,” he said.
Bill Head works in Shaver Lake and lives in Tollhouse, where he said Cal Fire makes sure he keeps 100 feet of defensible space.
“Every year we’re supposed to trim a perimeter around our outbuildings, your house, anything that can catch fire,” Head said.
Patterson said before when people needed to pay the steep fee, well-off homeowners were able to, but poorer ones were not and had no choice but to keep dangerous flammable trees on their properties.
He says the bill is a win-win, allowing people to profit while creating an added layer of fire protection.
“We are incentivizing people and we are taking away a huge impediment,” Patterson said.
Head said the Creek Fire showed how crucial defensible space is.
“After experiencing this last fire it’s really important,” he said for his community it’s a way of life, “people are pretty self-aware and they basically don’t need to be told a lot of things they kind of know what’s responsible and what you have to do to live up here in the mountains.”
The bill extends existing legislation, which would have expired next year. The program will now run until 2026.