At the Lake: TRPA to vote on easing defensible space rules |

At the Lake: TRPA to vote on easing defensible space rules

R-C News Service

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will consider rule changes Wednesday that will allow residents to better protect their homes from catastrophic wildfires.

The proposal would allow property owners to remove trees up to 14 inches in diameter without a permit. The present limit is 6 inches.

The plan, recommended by both TRPA’s Advisory Planning Commission and the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Committee, is part of a broader package to allow homeowners to clear enough space next to their homes to help prevent disasters like the Angora fire, in which more than 200 homes burned in the first few hours.

Basin residents have long complained about bureaucratic rules that make it almost impossible even to rake up dry pine needles surrounding their houses.

The 6-inch diameter rule would remain in effect for lakefront properties.

Mike Vollmer of TRPA said tree removal is only one part of the defensible space issue.

“The Angora wildfire demonstrated that more basic practices such as brush removal, proper wood pile storage and clearance around and under decking play a more critical role in protecting homes,” he said.

There is also an agreement on issues involving emergency vehicle access plans for properties, maintenance of 5 foot noncombustible moats around structures and 100 feet of defensible space around homes – 300 feet on steep slopes – to slow the spread of fire.

Negotiations are continuing on other issues, including the use of pine needles for erosion control versus their flammability in a fire.