Permit Sonoma Fire Prevention

Vegetation Management Requirements

Defensible Space requirements in Sonoma County are different based on if your parcel is in a local Responsibility Areas (LRA), a state responsibility Area (SRA), or within a municipality. If you don't know if your property is in SRA or LRA, you can use this link to search for parcel information using our zoning lookup tool. After you have entered your APN or address in the search bar, look for "Fire Protection Response Area" to see if you are in LRA or SRA.

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Local Responsibility Area (LRA) Requirements for Improved Parcels

For Improved Parcels (those with a dwelling, house, or building) in Local Responsibility Areas

Zone 1: Requirements from structures to a distance of thirty-feet, or to the property line, whichever is closer.

  • Remove all portions of trees within ten feet (10') of chimney and/or stovepipe outlets. Maintain year round. SCC 13A-4(a)(4)*
  • Maintain the roof and gutters of any structure free of leaves, needles, or other dead/dying wood. SCC 13A-4(a)(6)*
  • Maintain trees adjacent to or overhanging a structure free of dead/dying wood. SCC 13A-4(a)(5)*
  • Climbing vines must be maintained to be free of dead and dying materials or removed from trees and structures. SCC 13A-4(a)(1)*
  • Remove dead and dying vegetation from the property. SCC 13A-4(a)(10)*
  • Maintain shrubs to be free from dead and dying materials. SCC 13A-4(a)(1)*
  • Prune trees to 6 feet from ground. SCC 13A-4(a)(1)* (Recommended: Prune 6 feet from ground OR 1/3 of tree height)
  • Cut grasses to 6 inches or less. To prevent erosion, do not cut to bare mineral soil. SCC 13A-4(a)(1)*

Zone 2: Additional defensible space outward to one hundred feet 100 feet (or to the property line) from all structures may be required depending on the property slope, fuel load and/or fuel type.

  • Prune trees to 6 feet from ground. SCC 13A-4(a)(9)* (Recommended: Prune 6 feet from ground OR 1/3 of tree height)
  • Remove dead and dying vegetation from the property. SCC 13A-4(a)(10)*

Other Requirements

  • Within ten feet of roadway frontage: SCC 13A-4(a)(3)*
    • Remove dead and dying vegetation; 
    • Remove tree branches up to six feet (6’) above the ground. (Recommended: Prune 6 feet from ground OR 1/3 of tree height)
    • Trim grasses to four inches (4”) or less but not to the bare soil. 
  • Install a spark arrester on chimney and/or stovepipe outlets. The spark arrester must be constructed of heavy wire mesh with openings not to exceed one-half inch (½"). SCC 13A-4(a)(7)*
  • Provide street address numbers that are clearly visible from the roadside, minimum height: Four inches (4"). SCC 13A-4(a)(3)*
    • The address numbers should be posted on the house. 
    • If the house sits back from the street, post the address at the beginning of the driveway and on the house. 
    • The address numbers should be reflective in a contrasting color for visibility pursuant to Sonoma County Code Chapter 13.

Key:

*SCC = Sonoma County Code

State Responsibility Area (SRA) Requirements for Improved Parcels

Improved Parcels: Those with a dwelling, house, or building.

Defensible Space Zone (within 30 feet of structures or to the property line)

  • Remove all branches within 10 feet of any chimney or stovepipe outlet, pursuant to PRC § 4291(a)(4) and 14 CCR § 1299.03(a)(2).
  • Remove leaves, needles or other vegetation on roofs, gutters, decks, porches, stairways, etc. PRC §(4291)(a)(6) 1, SCC 13A-4(a)(6) 2
  • Remove all dead and dying trees, branches and shrubs, or other plants adjacent to or overhanging buildings, pursuant to PRC § 4291 (a)(5) and 14 CCR § 1299.03(a)(2).
  • Remove all dead and dying grass, plants, shrubs, trees, branches, leaves, weeds and needles, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(a)(1).
  • Remove or separate live flammable ground cover and shrubs, pursuant to PRC § 4291(a)(1) and Board of Forestry General Guidelines item1.
  • Remove flammable vegetation and items that could catch fire which are adjacent to, or below, combustible decks, balconies, and stairs, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(a)(4).
  • Relocate exposed wood piles outside of Zone1 unless completely covered in a fire-resistant material, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(a)(3).

Reduced Fuel Zone (within 30-100 feet of all structures or to property line)

  • Cut annual grasses and forbs down to a maximum height of 4 inches, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(b)(2)(B). To avoid erosion, do not cut to bare mineral soil. Trimmings may remain on the ground. PRC §(4291)(a)(1) 1
  • Remove fuels in accordance with the Fuel Separation or Continuous Tree Canopy guidelines (see back), pursuant to Board of Forestry General Guidelines item 4.
  • All exposed woodpiles must have a minimum of 10 feet clearance, down to bare mineral soil, in all directions, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(b)(2) (C).
  • Dead and dying woody surface fuels and aerial fuels shall be removed. Loose surface litter, normally consisting of fallen leaves or needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches, shall be permitted to a maximum depth of 3 inches, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(b)(2)(A).

Defensible and Reduce Fuel Zone (within 100 feet of all structures and property line)

  • Logs or stumps embedded in the soil must be removed or isolated from other vegetation, pursuant to Board of Forestry General Guidelines item 3.

Other Requirements

  • Outbuildings and Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) storage tanks shall have 10 feet of clearance to bare mineral soil and no flammable vegetation for an additional 10 feet around their exterior, pursuant to 14 CCR § 1299.03(c)(1).
  • Address numbers shall be displayed in contrasting colors (4" min. size) and readable from the street or access road, pursuant to 2016 CFC § 505.1.
  • Equip chimney or stovepipe openings with a metal screen having openings between 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch, pursuant to 2016 CBC § 2113.9.2.

Key:

  • SCC = Sonoma County Code
  • PRC = Public Resource Code
  • CCR = California Code of Regulations
  • CFC = California Building Code
  • CBC = California Building Code

State (SRA) and Local (LRA) Requirements for Unimproved Parcels

For Unimproved Parcels (those without a dwelling, house, or building) in State Responsibility Areas or Local Responsibility

Description of Hazards

  • Flammable vegetation and other combustible growth within 10 feet of neighboring structures shall be removed. SCC 13A-4(B)(1)*
  • Dead and dying vegetation within 10 feet of neighboring structures shall be removed. SCC 13A-4(B)(2)*
  • Grass and combustible surface vegetation within ten feet of neighboring structures must be trimmed to less than four inches (4”) in height unless necessary for erosion control. SCC 13A-4(B)(3)*
  • All trees within ten feet of neighboring structures must be pruned to at least six feet (6’) above grade. SCC 13A-4(B)(4)* (Recommended: Prune 6 feet from ground OR 1/3 of tree height)
  • Flammable vegetation and other combustible growth within 10 feet of roadway frontage shall be removed. SCC 13A-4(B)(1)*
  • Dead and dying vegetation within 10 feet of roadway frontage shall be removed. SCC 13A-4(B)(2)*
  • Grass and combustible surface vegetation within ten feet of roadway frontage must be trimmed to less than four inches (4”) in height unless necessary for erosion control. SCC 13A-4(B)(3)
  • All trees within ten feet of roadway frontage must be pruned to at least six feet (6’) above grade. SCC 13A-4(B)(4)* (Recommended: Prune 6 feet from ground OR 1/3 of tree height)
  • Combustible material shall be removed from the property. SCC 13A-4(B)(5)*

Key:

*SCC = Sonoma County Code

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