University of Arizona

After California's most destructive fire season, a debate over where to rebuild homes

After California's most destructive fire season, a debate over where to rebuild homes

After a destructive wildfire swept from Calabasas to Malibu in 1993, the head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy stood on a mountaintop on live TV and made a radical proposal.

He called for a “three-strikes” rule to limit the number of times recovery funds could be spent to help rebuild a home destroyed by wildfire.

Today, Joseph T. Edmiston is still wincing from the blowback. But he hasn’t backed down. Just the opposite.

“I think two strikes is enough and they ought to be bought out,” Edmiston said, after spending three days coordinating the conservancy’s crews on the Skirball, Rye and Creek fires.

He’s not alone. With the frequency and cost of catastrophic...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
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