After devastating wildfires, could restrictions on homebuilding be in LA’s future?

A new statewide poll show strong support for prohibiting new residential development in wildfire-prone areas

California Governor Gavin Newsom and a home burned in Malibu following the Woolsey Fire
California Governor Gavin Newsom and a home burned in Malibu following the Woolsey Fire

The verdict is in: Three-quarters of California residents want the state to restrict residential development in wildfire-prone areas, after recent devastating blazes that damaged or destroyed homes and entire communities.

A survey by the University of California Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times, found wide support for a development ban with voters across the state.

By region, at least 66 percent of voters supported a development ban. By party, the numbers were a little different. Around 85 percent of Democrats said they supported a ban, while 57 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independent voters said they do.

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Prohibiting new housing construction in those areas could have a significant impact on development in parts of Los Angeles, which the state considers at a higher risk for wildfires than anywhere else in the state. The string of wildfires in the region over the last few years, including last year’s Woolsey Fire, burned through high risk areas.

Some of L.A.’s most exclusive and most expensive cities and neighborhoods are located in high risk areas, including communities like Beverly Hills and Bel Air. All of Malibu, which sustained major damage in the Woolsey Fire — which caused $5 billion in damage — is considered a high risk area.

A ban appears less popular among state officials. Lawmakers haven’t openly discussed that kind of restriction, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said in April he doesn’t support the move.

Lawmakers have turned their attention to the utility companies responsible for many of the recent blazes across the state. Officials concluded last month that Pacific Gas & Electric was primarily responsible for last year’s deadly Camp Fire. [LAT]Dennis Lynch