In yet another change in its Juniper policy, the board adopted a second amended Firewise Landscape Policy moving mandatory removal of Junipers back one year, from Aug. 31, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022. The board had previously changed the policy from volunteer to mandatory removal after hearing Junipers described as “a bunch of firebombs” which “burn hot.” It was estimated that more than 500 Oakmont homes have Junipers in their landscaping.
Reasons given for the change in policy include giving residents time to schedule and accomplish the removal, to review various city landscape ordinances and erosion control measures and to educate the public on requirements included in the ordinances.
The policy was approved 6-1 for posting, allowing 28 days for review by Oakmont residents. Director Noel Lyons voted against the policy, calling it “overreach and misguided” because it does not take into consideration different types of Junipers which would not endanger homes.
To be clear, the section of the policy requiring homeowners to comply with the following guidelines by Aug. 31, 2021, remains unchanged.
-Remove plants on the OVA/Flammable/Do Not Plant list within a 5-foot defensible space zone from the house. Any existing trees and shrubs not on the list may remain in the 5-foot space. Those shrubs should be healthy and maintained free of dead wood.
- Remove all wood and rubber mulches in the 5-foot zone.
- Remove dead branches from shrubs and trees, keep the integrity of the trees, and remove all dead trees and shrubs.
- Remove all finely shredded redwood and cedar bark such as gorilla hair and rubber mulch from the entire property.
- Remove all leaves and needles from roof and rain gutters as needed.
- All wildland grasses must be cut or removed mechanically or by sheep annually to a maximum height of 4 inches.
- Firewood and any combustible materials must be stored at least 30 feet away from the home, garage, attached decks or other structures.
The policy also provides that rock may be used as mulch between plants and is exempt from Oakmont’s 15% rock limit.
The board unanimously approved a $26,020 contract with Sonoma Ecology to write a Vegetation Management Plan for Oakmont’s high-risk fire areas and research and develop a funding strategy. SEC will also write and submit grant proposals to fund permitting and implementation of the contract. The plan will focus on the wildland urban interface (WUI) adjacent to Trione-Annadel State Park.
Director Marianne Neufeld called the contract “one of the most important things we can do for Oakmont.” She said Sonoma Ecology knows where to get grants and they’re optimistic in light of last fall’s Glass Fire.