Brush it off…

Star-News reporter Nathan McIntire wrote a story today about mandatory brush clearance in Monrovia.

The catch is property owners are going to have to remove brush on their property, and on other people’s properties too.

The ordinance compels homeowners to maintain up to 200 feet of clearance between their buildings and any hazardous brush that constitutes a fire hazard, even if that brush rests on city-owned or private property.

Ochoa said the justification for the ordinance is that homeowners stand to lose more from a brush fire than the owner of undeveloped land.

“The crux of the city’s brush clearance and mitigation efforts is to create defensible space around a dwelling,” Ochoa said. “What we have done is to place the responsibility on the owner of the potential liability and loss.”

If the property is not cleared, the city can enter it, remove the brush and attach a lien to the neighbor’s property tax bill for the full cost of services rendered.

Administrative fines also can be imposed if the ordinance is not adhered to. If homeowners fail to respond to three written notices, they can be fined $1,000. Further failure to comply can result in a maximum fine of $5,000.

The ordinance has been in effect since 1992, and the city has never placed a lien on property or fined any homeowners for brush clearance violations, according to Ochoa.

But Jogminas said the law has only been fully enforced since Monrovia terminated its brush clearance contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures last year. Previously, the county would clear undeveloped land if the landowner did not. The landowner would then be billed, said Jogminas, who lives in the Highland Place neighborhood.

What do you think? Is this justified? Or is the city just passing the buck along?

Read the full story here…