Wildfire Hazard Citations

The City of San Rafael is dedicated to preventing devastating wildfires in our community. Adapting our community to living with the threat of wildfire takes everyone! Part of our broad strategy includes assuring all our residents have good defensible space and evacuation routes clear of hazards. To meet the standards adopted by City Council and outlined in our San Rafael Wildfire Action Plan residents may be required to make changes to their landscape.

For over two years, we have prioritized providing education and resources to spur residents into action. Overall, we have seen great results. However, we still have some properties with significant wildfire hazards that need resolved. For our entire community's safety SRFD has started taking enforcement action to assure significant community risks are addressed near homes and evacuation routes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Great! Thank you for taking steps to help San Rafael adapt to wildfire. You can email pictures of your newly adapted space to srfd.dspace@cityofsanrafael.org. Please include your address in the subject line.

Please make sure your pictures are clear and show the broader area. If possible, try to take pictures similar to those that were provided in your initial report. Staff may also visit the property to confirm the work is completed. If the work is not visible from the right of way, staff will need you to be present to allow access.

In February of 2021, after a multi-year process including a citizens advisory committee and dozens of public and community meetings, City Council adopted our enhanced Citywide Vegetation Standards to better protect our City from the risks of a devastating wildfire. Since adoption, staff have worked diligently to knock on every door in San Rafael to provide information and complete property evaluations. If no one is home, information is left at the door. Residents can access their free reports using personal codes provided on door hangers.

In addition, in 2021 and 2022 informational mailers were sent to every physical and tax record address in San Rafael. It is also important to note that the City has had specific vegetation standards for homes in the wildland urban interface since 2007, which included the required removal of Juniper.

Prior to issuing pre-citation notices or citations staff make multiple attempts to connect with residents.

This includes in person visits to each property during which staff will knock on doors. If no one is home, information is left at the door. This information included details on hazards observed from the right of way, and directions on how to access their free report, request a full inspection, and the various support resources the City has available. In addition, every San Rafael address and property has received an annual mailer  informing residents and property owners of our wildfire prevention standards and support resources. Prior to issuing a pre-citation, staff have also made at least two follow up attempts to contact residents with noted hazards via phone, email, or postal mail based on information available. To compliment these direct contacts, staff also maintain a robust online presence including our website and social media and have help numerous virtual and in person public meetings to help inform and support our community in our efforts to adapt to wildfire.

Residents may submit a Request for Review (RFR)to see they they qualify for an exemption to the citywide vegetation standards outlined in SRMC 4.12. These are reviewed and potentially approved by the Fire Chief or designee. Staff are happy to talk with you about ways to alter your vegetation to improve its safety and increase the likelihood of your exemption request being approved. It is important to note, exemptions to the standards are not guaranteed, and resident may still be required to remove hazards to avoid fines. RFRs must be submitted with enough time for staff to review prior to deadlines issued in pre-citations or citations.

Residents may submit a Request for Review (RFR) for vegetation that does not pose a community hazard and can be well maintained. Staff are happy to meet with residents to explain options for minimizing risks and therefore improving odds that an RFR for an exemption will be approved by the Fire Chief or designee. For example, bamboo used for privacy may be approved for an exemption to SRMC 4.12 if it is kept no thicker than 1 foot, is limbed up at least 3 feet, is free of dead or dying material, and does not create a fuel ladder to other combustible materials. https://www.cityofsanrafael.org/exemption-program/

Pre-Citations are issued at least 15 days before a fine will be issued. After 15 days, staff will document any ongoing hazard and prepare an initial citation of $250 dollars to be issued 30 days after the initial pre-citation was issued. After two weeks, staff will return and issue another $250 fine for ongoing hazards. If the issue is addressed prior to the second fine being issued, the initial fine will be forgiven. Following the second issuance, fines will not be forgiven and become compounding.

Paying the fine does not substitute for the required alterations or removal of vegetation. Additional fines will be issued at higher rates and more frequent intervals for ongoing community hazards. Fines max out at $500/day. The City can pursue abatement for unresponsive properties that pose a community hazard.

We hope to avoid fines altogether and are ready to help you adapt your property to wildfire. Please visit the various resources provided below.

The City has a variety of options available to help residents. These support options have been available for over three years and many residents have taken advantage of them. We encourage you to do the same! Educational resources include one on one inspections with our trained staff as well as online resources via firesafemarin.org and SRFD.org.

To help with physical changes, residents can register for free chipper services to chip and haul cut debris at chipperday.com/marin . There are financial grants available to help cover resident’s costs of addressing items included in their defensible space report. The City also has a unique direct assistance program in which a City contractor will complete the work on select properties free of cost to the resident.

Additional fines will be issued at higher rates and more frequent intervals for ongoing community hazards. Fines max out at $500/day. Should you fail to correct the conditions on your property, pursuant to SRMC 4.12.060, the City is entitled to abate the public nuisance by correcting the violations and to collect abatement costs through a nuisance abatement lien (Government Code Section 38773.1), and/or by special assessment to be collected by the Marin County tax collector (Government Code Section 38773.5).

Citations will begin at $250 and increase after 30 days if violations are not resolved.  

Resident Resources 

  • City of San Rafael Wildfire Vegetation Standards 
  • Chipper Program 
  • Wildfire Prevention Direct Assistance 
  • Wildfire Prevention Grant Programs 

Learn More


If you need further assistance, please reach out to the Defensible Space Team at srfd.dspace@cityofsanrafael.org

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