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  • Christopher

Proposed Low Impact Camping Area And Fire Risk For Our Community

Hey Neighbors,

As your candidate for 5th District Supervisor, I feel compelled to speak out against the proposed Low-Impact Camping Area (LICA) ordinance currently under consideration by our county government. While I understand the desire to increase outdoor recreational opportunities in our beautiful region, I believe this ordinance poses significant risks to our community and environment.

First and foremost, I'm deeply concerned about the increased fire risk this ordinance could bring to our vulnerable mountain communities. The CZU and the consequences of it are still felt to this day: for those of us who lost our homes to the financial strain it put on our government and infrastructure. But even before that, in 2009, we experienced the Lockheed Fire in Bonny Doon - a blaze that burned nearly 8,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 2,200 residents.

The cause? An illegal campfire that got out of control.

As we have seen since the CZU, once homes are burnt and gone more than likely they will never be rebuilt. Once our infrastructure is damaged, it’s a long, expensive road to get back to normalcy.

The proposed LICA ordinance, while well-intentioned, could inadvertently create numerous new potential ignition points across our rural areas. Yes, the ordinance prohibits open fires and only allows gas stoves. But we all know that rules can be broken, especially in remote areas with limited oversight.

Moreover, the ordinance's attempt to streamline the approval process for these campsites is troubling. By making it easier to establish LICAs with minimal review, we risk overlooking crucial safety and environmental concerns. Our district's complex terrain, diverse ecosystems, and scattered residential areas require careful consideration for any new development - especially one that introduces transient populations into our wildland-urban interface.

It's concerning that the planning commission requested all high wildfire risk areas be removed, not just very high wildfire risk areas, and there was no change to the ordinance. Staff responded with: "A significant portion of the county is located in the very high and high fire hazard severity zones (approximately 50% of the total county, largely in the rural area). Removing these areas would render most of the county ineligible to pursue a LICA permit."

I'm also worried about the impact on our local emergency services. In many of our remote areas, cell service is limited or non-existent. While the ordinance requires on-site management in these cases, it still places an additional burden on our already-stretched fire and rescue teams.

As your potential 5th District Supervisor, I believe we need to prioritize the safety and well-being of our current residents and protect the natural beauty that makes our area so special. While I support responsible outdoor recreation, I believe this ordinance, as proposed, is not the right solution for our community.

Instead, I advocate for enhancing and expanding our existing, well-managed campgrounds and recreational areas. Let's focus on improving fire safety in our current communities, supporting our local emergency services, and finding ways to boost our economy that don't put our forests and neighborhoods at risk.

I urge our current county leadership to reconsider this ordinance and work with the community to find better solutions for expanding recreational opportunities while prioritizing safety and fire risk abatement.

Your voice matters in this discussion. I encourage you to reach out to our current supervisors and planning commission to share your thoughts on this important issue. It is being discussed tomorrow. Click the link below for instructions on leaving a comment or sending an email.

In community, always.


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1 Comment

kym morello
kym morello
Jun 25

This is an excellent idea to improve and expand our current campgrounds. I fully support your idea, Christopher. Thank you for your continued support on keeping fire danger risk as low as we can.

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