Woodside fire-safe rules to take effect April 9
Wildfire prevention advanced a step in Woodside on March 10 with the Town Council's unanimous decision to complete the two-step process to amend the building code to require fire-resistant materials and methods in all new construction and in some remodels.
The first step, a council decision to introduce the amendments, happened on Feb. 24 in another unanimous vote. At neither that meeting nor the one on March 10 did anyone from the public make a substantial comment on or critique of the proposed changes.
The regulations are effective 30 days after adoption, meaning that building permits sought after Friday, April 9, will come under the new rules. For construction plans already under planning review, the council extended the effective date to Friday, May 1.
The town-wide rules for new homes affect roofing and gutters; attic ventilation; exterior walls, including doors, windows and wall coverings; and decking, including "surfaces, stair treads, risers, and landings of decks, porches and balconies ... within 10 feet of the primary structure," according to Chapter 7A of the state's Wildland-Urban Interface Building Code.
The roofing, decking and window regulations will also apply to replacement roofs, replacement windows and replacement decks throughout Woodside. A list of state-approved fire-resistant materials can be found at tinyurl.com/WS-fire2.
The council was agreeable to setting up a limited appeal process at Town Hall for projects in the midst of getting approved. "I imagine there will be some folks who are caught by that (deadline), but we will do our best to avoid it," Assistant Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the council.
The council took pains to avoid an overly urgent stance. "The whole thing that we're doing here is taking a 50-, 100-, 1,000-year perspective," Councilman Dave Burow said.
Councilman Dave Tanner, a contractor, said compliance would be a simple matter of replacing non-compliant materials with compliant ones. "I don't see it as a major deal," he said.
Post cards notifying the public about the rule changes have already gone out and more will follow, Town Manager Susan George said. The next round may include cards to local contractors, architects and real estate offices.
Ms. George suggested that the cards have references to Web pages that offer more information, including to Chapter 7A. To view the regulations, go to tinyurl.com/WS-fire1.
The council has not yet decided on whether to adopt the state's fire-safe landscaping practices, but has acknowledged the ongoing role of the Woodside Fire Protection District in addressing this issue.
The fire district, which includes Woodside and Portola Valley, does annual safety checks on vegetation-based fire hazards, though such checks will not get around to every property every year, Fire Marshal Denise Enea has said.
Safer landscaping is often as simple as removing brush that threatens to ignite tree canopies, she said.