Los Angeles, August 4, 2020 — Leonora Camner, executive director of Abundant Housing LA released the following statement on fire season in Los Angeles and the growing threat posed by current housing growth patterns:

“Southern California once again finds itself in the midst of a relentless fire season. The Apple Fire in Riverside County has already burned 26,000 acres—more than six times the size of Griffith Park and 2.5 times the size of the entire City of Santa Monica—and displaced 7,800 residents. Only 5% has been contained.

“Here in LA, four active fires have thus far burned 620 acres, with a fifth fire having burned 648 acres last month. With the peak of fire season set to last until October, the damage caused will only mount. Each year, the destruction caused by wildfires in fact grows larger.

“We must recognize that this is the product of human activity on two fronts: horizontal urban development has destroyed forest and desert environments, introducing into already fire-prone areas more human life and property. Additionally, sprawl guarantees that more and more people drive longer distances every day, pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. The changing climate in turn increases temperature volatility, and causes even more fire destruction.

“It’s clear that in addressing the housing crisis in Los Angeles, wildfires must be part of the conversation. Abundant Housing LA has factored this growing threat into its work to build a more sustainable Los Angeles. We support a moratorium on new housing development in fire-prone greenspace. We also believe that if our local leaders determine that existing communities in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones cannot be adequately protected from fire hazard, managed retreat from those areas must remain an option

The long-term solution to this serious threat must be to plan for more housing density and streamlining of housing construction in urban infill areas to address the problems of sprawl and long commutes, and to provide a place for people to live who are displaced from fire hazard areas. 

“As the 2020 fire season intensifies, we can only hope that Angelenos remain safe, all the while planning for a future free from the threat that fires pose to homes and human life.”