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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Gov. Newsom’s shocking recklessness on building in fire-prone areas

Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to talk with reporters in Healdsburg, Calif., after surveying fire devastation in Sonoma County on Oct. 25.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Although my wife and I lived in Idyllwild for 13 years, loving the forest and community, we recognized the constant threat of fire. We and others co-founded the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council and worked with the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire to educate the public about the need for hardening their properties and actively helping homeowners reduce fuel and dead trees around their homes.

The council has accomplished a great deal and is continuing that work. But we always warned that a wind-driven fire in the forest would not respect our efforts.

While understanding the attraction of the the forest environment, I agree with and embrace the recommendations of your editorial calling for restrictions on developing and rebuilding within the wildland-urban interface. I was shocked and dismayed by the statement by Gov. Gavin Newsom (for whom I voted) that such restrictions would be against California’s “pioneering spirit.”

I suggest that your reporters ask some of the panicked people fleeing these historic fires whether they feel like pioneers or refugees.

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Blair Ceniceros, Claremont

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To the editor: On a day of wildfire tragedy, the paper of record in Los Angeles has the bad taste to perpetuate the fraudulent meme about building homes in so-called fire-prone areas.

The National Park Service has asserted many times that naturally occurring fires in our region were and remain a centennial event. That is less frequent than other recurring natural disasters in America.

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The difference is not that people build in fire-prone areas; the difference is that our utility companies and resource management agencies have been derelict in maintaining the infrastructure and resources on which we, as taxpayers and captive rate payers, depend.

This is victim blaming on an epic scale, and The Times’ endorsement of it is irresponsible. Point the finger where it belongs — those who have failed to maintain essential infrastructure and responsibly manage resources.

Wade Major, Malibu


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