Thursday, January 12, 2012

Failure for Viewshed Protection; Moratorium on Santa Rosa Escarpment lifted

The Californian reports that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has lifted the moratorium on construction on the Santa Rosa Ridgeline:

Lifting Santa Rosa Ridgeline Moratorium

I'm disappointed that no plan to develop protections for this scenic area was made and that Supervisor Stone's suggestion to create an ordinance was not supported by the other supervisors. Controlling development on the ridgeline, and the broader issue of view-shed protections, brings up the issue private property rights. As reported, many citizens whose homes or plans are affected by the moratorium and would-be ordinance cite the intrusion on their property rights. Yet these same people, because of their location, are highly dependent on services from the county and state. Below is my collection of recent fires on the Santa Rosa escarpment.  (Click for full size)

Fire fighters take great risk protecting homes on top of these hillsides, where steep hills, a hot and dry climate, strong updrafts, and shifting winds make for exceptionally dangerous and unpredictable fires. Three times in the past 4 years I've watched airplanes drop fire retardants to keep hillside fires from overtaking homes on these slopes. I can’t image that the small number of property owners could ever maintain the fire-fighting protections they need. (I could add road construction and other services to that list.) In light of these risks and services, it's not asking too much for residents on these slopes to work within some aesthetic guidelines.

One homeowner commented about having to look at the red-tiled roofs of the valley. I believe this was a rhetorical point and not to be taken as his thoughtful opinion, but it is a fair consideration. I detest when a developer destroys the natural contour of the land in the valley or above it. But if this resident truly doesn't want to look at the houses in the valley, he should build a ways back from the edge, which is what a view-shed ordinance would require.


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