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California Coastal Commission to allow overnight camping in Extreme Fire Hazard Zones?

Roasting Marshmallows

Roasting Marshmallows sure is fun!

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is proposing to install new overnight campgrounds in three of this area’s most delicate canyons: Ramirez, Escondido and Corral.

These three canyons are in areas classified by the state as “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.”

(Source:, February 13, 2009)

Is anyone else alarmed or thinking, “Gee, this sounds like is a really, really bad idea?” Just so supporters of the CCC or the SMMC can roast marshmallows? Wow.

SINS OF COMMISSION provides exclusive information that delves into policies like this and discovered agencies like the California Coastal Commission actually perpetuate these wild fires because they refuse fuel modification in public land under their charge. Then when a really big, catastrophic fire blows through, they rock on their heels and whistle.

Wind's really kicking in... pass me another marshmallow!

This is not about Saving the Coast, Beach Access or people’s rights to hike on trails, the worthiness of trails or public vs. private property, Republicans v. Democrats, Liberals v. Conservatives, Left v. Right. etc.  It is about public safety - meaning all of us -plain and simple.

Are our collective memories short or what?

The Corral fire, the most destructive fire in the city of Malibu in nearly 15 years burned 4,700 acres consumed 49 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. About 1,750 firefighters, at least 45 fire engines, numerous hand crews, 23 water-dropping helicopters and two fixed-wing planes battled the blaze.

(Source LA Times November 27, 2007)

I sure hope someone, Governor Schwarzenegger, in charge of protecting public safety, Governor Schwarzenegger, is reading this blog in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger, and people in Australia too.

Yes, of course, every lobbyist and politician loves eco-dollars and wants to be seen as a friend of the environment, but what will you say to a fire fighter’s widow… especially when a fire could have been prevented?

Last year’s Corral Canyon fire and the recent fire in Montecito destroyed hundreds of homes and threatened thousand of lives.  And, these fires had two things in common: They were caused by people who did not completely extinguish their fires; and the millions of dollars spent to fight the fires were paid for by the taxpayers.

(Source:, February 13, 2009)

The Malibu City Council decided that allowing camping and intensive public uses in high fire areas created too great a risk to visitors and neighbors.

That decision has been opposed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Is it any surprise our tax base is disappearing? Hey, where is everyone going? Last one out of the state, please close the door.

Can folks in Australia roast marshmallows in the middle of their hazardous flammable brush zones? If you can, please you guys… don’t.

Feeling burnt?

Help us spread the word.

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4 Responses to “California Coastal Commission to allow overnight camping in Extreme Fire Hazard Zones?”

  1. Francis Drouillard Says:


    The problem isn’t failure to reduce fuel load in state lands along the coast. It’s allowing homes to be built in areas that are susceptible to wild fires.

    The amount of clearing needed to provide the fire protection you demand would eradicate much of the natural habitat in the coastal zone.

    Be that as it may, clearing for fire protection is NOT under the authority of the Coastal Commission. It’s the California Department of Forestry and CalFire. Anyone that applies for a Coastal Development Permit to build a home knows this.

    Much better to follow their requirements and build with fire-resistant materials. You may not have noticed, but as of 2008, the State of California no longer allows wood siding on new homes.

    I recommend you do a bit more research before blaming all our state’s ills on the California Coastal Commission. And, if you want them to do more, or be more consistent in their decisions, then you should demand better funding of the Commission.

    No other state agency is asked to do more with less than the California Coastal Commission. Their budget has systematically been reduced over the past 20 years. Not the growth in the their budget, the actual budget amount. Note you’re reading this from a conservative Republican that wants small, efficient and responsive government. Our Coastal Commission is the only state agency that currently meets that definition. Others, such as Caltrans, are bloated and inefficient.

    Sure, bitching about the “Sins of Commission” gets you decent Google hits, but the lack of facts to support your diatribe against the commission is music to the ears of greedy developers only. Anyone that cares about a healthy natural coastal environment can see how misguided you are in your rants.


    Novato, CA

  2. admin Says:

    Dear Frank,

    Thank you for your heartfelt comments.

    Together, although from different perspectives, I hope we can open a dialog every Californian, folks in other Western States, and all Americans can participate in.

    No matter how one chooses to look at it - whether to build or not, there is absolutely a statewide failure to reduce fuel load in state lands along the coast.

    I also respectfully disagree with your commment, “The amount of clearing needed to provide the fire protection you demand would eradicate much of the natural habitat in the coastal zone.” That’s already happening, as Naturalist Rick Halsey points out in the Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2008:

    Scientists in Southern California are finding new evidence that frequent fires are gradually replacing chaparral and sagebrush with highly flammable and prolific nonnative weeds

    Chief Scott Franklin, a world-renowned authority on Urban Interface Zone Management (LA County Fire -[ret]) has clearly stated current policy is “loving the chaparall to death” - Meaning: it is all becoming grassland and more prone to fire.

    Here’s a small clip of my exclusive interview with Chief Franklin from the documentary film: SINS OF COMMISSION

    THERE IS A WAY TO MODIFY THE FUEL AND PROTECT ESHA but it requires modification of ESHA in order to protect it. What are our options? Do nothing and let the chaparral melt into grass? Or try something different?

    I’ll go with different - ’cause what we’ve done, and what we’re doing ain’t working. Why not make a test zone? They do that in the mountains. Lets try it! If this works we save our state BILLIONS of dollars we don’t have! Fire season is around the corner. -Richard Oshen

    Re: Fact Check. Respectifully, The only person responsible for fire safety under the state of California Constitution is the FIRE MARSHALL. AND not any other agency -This is the underlying problem, and this is why we’re having such huge, costly, catastrophic fires.

    And yes, I am aware of recent fire safety codes updates as they concern new building material…but building material, updates, long over due, are only a small portion of the equation. It’s like trying to bail out the Titanic with a Dixie cup. It’s all about how we deal with the large areas.

    I’m also not blaming all of the states’ ills on the CCC…just the one’s they are responsible for.

    By the way, I am neither a Republican, Conservative, nor a Liberal. I am a CENTRIST… someone who the left feels is too far right …and the right feels is too far left….a challanging but rewarding place to be.


    Richard Oshen
    writer, director, producer, centrist

  3. Lennie Appelquist Says:

    What a wonderful response. “Loving our chaparral to death… As a Topanga resident for the last 17+ years. I have seen numerous fires and have of numerous encounters with the California Coastal Commission. Thanks for the info you provide.

  4. Lance Anderson Says:

    May, 18th 2009

    To: The California Coastal Commision and all concerned Californians:

    Today I am going over my portable fire pump and hose to make sure it’s ready. I’m putting in sprinklers on the north side of my roof so I can connect it to my fire pump, when the fire comes.
    Every day all year I think about when the fire comes, will I be home to use my equipment?
    My first fire I was home, and my heart goes out to all the fire victims everywhere.

    I live in Malibu at the end of Ramirez Canyon, unfortunately there is only one way in, so when that first fire came over the hills and blocked the sun and ashes fell in tornado swirls, I sent my family packing to the safety of the beach and stayed to save my home. Fortunately the fire traveled so fast across the tops of the mountains that it moved slowly down to my house and I was home to save it, in spite of no water pressure. Thats when I put in the pool. That was almost thirty years ago.

    Now the reason I’m writing you… SAFTY, SAFTY, SAFTY !
    I live a few hundred feet from the gates to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy property.
    For over a decade they have been trying to make it legal to have huge commercial events to support the overhead they have created by owning millions of dollars worth of residential estates they use for offices.
    The safety issue over evacuating hundreds of people if a fire were to start was always a fear, but now, in addition to that, they are proposing overnight camping. This is insane! God forbid if there were a fire to start at night anywhere in our canyon, there would be no way out for anyone on foot. There are no street lights, and unless you know the area, in the blackness of night people unfamiliar with the area would panic. All the residence have cars and know how to get out. How many homes and lives must we lose before we stop doing dangerous things in fire prone areas. Please do whatever you can to stop the insanity.

    Yours truly, Lance and Jean Anderson

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