Weeding out fire danger

It’s been a good winter for weeds in Southern California, with heavy storms softening the ground for growth that will create fire danger and other hazards later in the year.

This month, Burbank and Glendale unveiled their annual lists of properties considered to be public nuisances due to the fire threat posed by unchecked brush.

Property owners will be given a chance at hearings in the coming weeks to either prove they’ve taken care of the problem or face the prospect that city and county crews will clean up the properties this spring — and charge them for it.

In Glendale, 647 private parcels — all but five on unimproved lots — made it onto the public nuisance list. Most are on roads at the edge of the wilderness, including several properties on Verdugo Woods Highway near Crescenta Valley Park, Bayberry Drive near the Glendale (2) Freeway and Greenwich Road near the Chevy Chase Country Club.

On Tuesday night, the Glendale City Council will hold a hearing in which property owners can get their parcels off the list by proving they’ve taken care of the hazard, or by promising to do so before cleanup crews come in.

In Burbank, where city limits generally don’t brush up against large open spaces, a city report lists only 15 properties for abatement, including five near the intersection of Alameda and Olive avenues. The Burbank City Council has set March 8 for its hearing on the nuisances.

The Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner of weights and measures handles unimproved lots, while city fire crews clean up occupied sites.

Ken Pellman, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures, said handling the issue in Glendale and nearby communities is important for fire prevention.

“Your area has been hit hard by fires in recent years,” Pellman said.

The weed abatement program has other benefits, he added.

“Overgrown properties end up being places where there is a lot of illegal dumping,” he said. “It is a pest control issue, as well.”

Glendale is not required to offer owners further notice of the nuisance unless it anticipates the cleanup costs will exceed $750, according to a staff report.

Officials are encouraging landowners whose properties are on the list, which was published Feb. 1, to contact the Fire Department to resolve concerns or let the county agriculture department know they will handle cleanup themselves.

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