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VILLA PARK : Officials Hope to Avoid Fire Zone Designation

The state Forestry Department wants to designate about half of the city a “very high fire-hazard severity zone.” City government, however, wants to avoid that tag, saying that it might unduly increase insurance for many homeowners.

“I believe we can achieve the same result without this designation,” City Manager Fred Maley told the City Council Tuesday night. “This city, in good faith, can get an exemption.”

At issue is a state law that requires the Forestry Department to designate high fire-hazard areas. The department, using information from the Orange County Fire Authority, notified Villa Park that the state wants to designate the northern half of the city as such a zone.

That area is fire-hazardous because of its hilly terrain, which intensifies the effect of Santa Ana winds, Fire Battalion Chief Herb Jewell said. Jewell, who addressed the City Council, said the area also has “structural density,” as well as plants and trees that are highly susceptible to fires.

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Councilman John Frackelton strongly disagreed. “I’ve lived in both parts of town, and I can’t see that much difference,” Frackelton said.

Maley said that the city of Orange had been exempted from the state law, partly because it now requires that new roofs be fire-resistant. Maley said Villa Park should consider such an ordinance.

Mayor Bob Patchin directed city staff to draft a roofing proposal for consideration by the City Council at its Nov. 28 meeting. Patchin said the city wants to avoid having any part of the community identified as a high fire-hazard zone and will seek an exemption from the state law.


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