Under Fire Weather Watch – Monday, October 19 through Wednesday, October 21 – Oakmont’s preferred social forum, Nextdoor, is replete with comments and opinions on how to secure our village against perennially occurring fire storms. Everyone agrees on a 5-foot defensible space around our houses, but remains divided about the construction of a wall along Highway 12.

  • Those in favor cite the burned fences that appeared to have protected the homes located behind them (with one exception); to be replaced and improved with a masonry wall. Other writers express the concern that nothing will hinder the advent of ember storms that carry flammable cinders high in the air to land on distant roofs and landscaping. 
  • While the OVA Board’s mission statement reads as follows:
  • Our primary purpose is to provide OVA members with athletic, recreational and club facilities to enhance the quality and enjoyment of their Oakmont residence, and to have Oakmont perceived as a premier active adult retirement community …
  • However, the recurring fire dangers added an urgent element to this vision, and in 2018 Oakmont became an official Firewise USA designated community. And at it’s July 21, 2020 meeting, the board adopted a three-phase Fire Save Landscape Policy under the aegis of the newly formed Oakmont Firewise Safety Committee, led by Iris Harrell.

Phase One requires the removal of flammable plants and bark within a five-foot defensible space around homes, the removal of dead or partially dead trees and finely shredded bark and removal of leaves and pine needles from roof and rain gutters by Aug. 21, 2021.

Securing vents; removal of combustible bark, bushes, trees and tree limbs will not be inexpensive. The resultant financial burden imposed on some residents needs to be considered. 

How can neighbors be helped who cannot or can ill afford to fireproof their property? How to achieve an equitable solution? Financial assistance via a means test? 

Or will Ova picking up the tab? That, of course, signifies the collective us. The building of a wall would cost millions, paid for with assessments.

Some monies could and should be used instead to harden our 3200 homes with their front, side and back yards.

If it all seems like a monumental undertaking, it is! But absent of an urgent communal effort, led by the board and its designated committee, the luck of saving our homes in an uncertain future will be significantly diminished. 

Photo: Close up of Junipers around home lost in OakmontFacebook / Susan Gorin

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  1. Lisa Symonds on October 19, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Thank you for bringing attention to this important issue. The building of a fire resistant north and south perimeter to our community should be a high priority. The annual fire season is not going away and as we have seen these fires return.

    Given the fire on our north side and the loss of many of the hwy canopy trees our northern perimeter is highly impacted ny the glass fire. I have seen lovely fire resistant wall material used in rocky mt communities complete with artwork. Any design must be sound absorbing as improper material could bounce the hwy noise up into the hill communities lowering property values there. On the Annadel side we should consider a 300 ft wide fire vegetation break working with the park system.

  2. Ellen Dolores on October 19, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Anyone who walks in Oakmont can see our community has an overwhelming amount of juniper; few houses are without it. Since it is on the OVA list of plants we need to remove, we need to utilize our board to negotiate with large landscape vendors and create a plan to remove it on a sectional grid with a set fee that will be lower than if each home owner tries to hire someone themselves – or else it just won’t happen.

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