Updates to City Hall Hours on Fridays in July and August 


What is it?

The San Rafael Wildfire Prevention and Protection Action Plan, passed in August 2020, outlines various goals to proactively and aggressively address the growing risks associated with wildfire. The primary objectives of the plan include the following:

  • Ordinance changes to mitigate wildfire risk
  • Additional staffing, funds, and resources to address hazards
  • Expanded and new public outreach and education
  • Expanded and new fuel reduction
  • Expanded and new preparedness efforts
  • Improving and increasing vegetation management plans (VMPs)

How does it affect me?

All property owners in San Rafael, both public and private, will be required to remove all juniper, bamboo, acacia, and Italian cypress from their property.   

Why? While no plant is “fire proof”, there are many attractive plants that are less fire prone or fire safe. Removing some of the most pervasive and fire prone plants from San Rafael will reduce wildfire risk and spread. 

Requirements that once only applied to parcels in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) will be applicable to all parcels within the City of San Rafael. For example, if you are replacing the windows throughout your home, they will need to meet the fire resistant building material requirements as outlined in California Fire Code Section 7A.

Why? Wildfire knows no boundaries. Many of the large wildfires in the past few years spread by embers, not flame fronts or radiant heat. This means homes outside the WUI also need to have defensible space to help reduce fire spread and structure loss.   

To find out if your home is in a WUI area, you can search your property by Street Address. 

No vegetation except for 3-inch grass or succulents is to exist within 0’-5’ of any structures on the property. Vines and ivy will have to be well-irrigated and maintained. Mulch or similar ground covering is only permitted when no contact is made with combustible exterior walls or plants.  

Why? Many of the recent large fires were spread by windblown embers which started many small fires, sometimes miles away. If these embers land in combustible material near your home, it is almost certain to ignite. Likewise, if a plant below a window catches fire, is the flames are likely to break the glass and spread the fire inside. Reducing fuel around your home will reduce the likelihood of an ember lighting your home on fire.   

Get creative and check out some great ways to harden your home in style. 

Pending future City Council action, all shake and wooden roofs would be required to be replaced by January 1, 2029 or at time of resale, whichever is first.

Why? Wooden roofs are much more susceptible to ignition of embers or other fire debris. Replacing wooden roofs with fire rated materials makes home ignition less likely and also reduces fire spread and helps protect your neighbors.

Parking will only be permitted in designated “boxed” areas which will be designed to assure emergency vehicles can access all streets in San Rafael.

Why? Our Municipal Code currently prohibits parking on narrow street unless six feet (6’) from center is maintained unobstructed. This standard is confusing, hard to enforce, and does not guarantee fire engines and other large vehicles can safely access all areas of San Rafael. The “parking box” concept is easy to observe and understand for both residents and visitors.

The city will develop a program to encourage the implementation of garage door battery backup systems. 

Why? Power failures, impacting the functionality of automatic garage doors, can make evacuation by car impossible during an emergency. Effective, July 1, 2019, Senate Bill 969 requires all new and replacement automatic garage doors to have a backup battery or other means that assures the garage door can open in the event of a power failure 

Designated parcels will be required to have more than one means and direction of egress in the event of a wildfire or other emergency. Fences over two (2) feet tall will be required to have two gates, accessing different cardinal directions installed. This will include new fences, replaced fences, and at property resale. 

Why? To assure that multiple escape routes exist in the most vulnerable areas and provide ease of access for firefighters. 

All new construction, home improvements impacting more than 25% of the structure, replacing roofing or windows, all community owned space (i.e. HOA shared land), etc. Vegetation management plan approval will be part of residential building resale (RBR) inspections or if the property is transferred to a new owner (inheritance, donated, etc.) or the zoning or use of the building changes (including listed for short-term rental). 

Why? An improved and more accessible VMP process will help more homeowners establish and maintain fire resistant landscaping. Fire-resistant landscaping will help keep the whole community safe by reducing the chances of ignition and fire spread.  

All short-term rental units are required to post emergency procedures, information on signing up for emergency alerts, and fire safety information. 

Why? Short-term rentals represent a unique fire risk for a variety of reasons. Those using short-term rentals may be from out of the area and unfamiliar with wildfire risk and safety procedures. The information will help assure the safety of visitors and provide important fire prevention information to visitors unfamiliar with wildfire risks and necessary ignition precautions 

Shrubs and trees that overhang public roadways and impede the safe access of emergency vehicles will be trimmed or removed.

Why? Removal of hazardous fuels along public roadways will reduce the risk of roadside fire ignition and improve safety along evacuation routes.

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