County: property owners will receive year-round notices about weed abatement

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County property owners can expect to receive notices throughout the year warning them of potential fines if they don’t eliminate overgrown vegetation that could fuel wildfires, county officials said today.

At the start of the year, inspectors from the Office of the County Fire Marshal initiated a year-round enforcement program based on two county ordinances — No. 695.4 and No. 772.

The measures permit notices of abatement to be issued from January to December in unincorporated communities. In previous years, inspectors primarily issued abatement warnings in the first four or five months of the year, ahead of the start of wildfire season, which generally spans May to November, depending on the weather.

The county’s Fire Hazard Reduction Program focuses on orchards, vineyards, groves and other parcels that have not been cleared or maintained.

“The notices that property owners (now) receive coincide with different vegetation growth rates and patterns throughout the year,” according to an agency statement.

Officials also warned that individuals who conduct mowing and other clearance methods using equipment that ignites a fire because it was employed negligently may be held liable for all suppression costs and ensuing damage.

If parcel owners do not comply with abatement orders, the county dispatches its own contractors to oversee clearance operations. The county then charges the owners for the cost of the mitigation.

Land owners who do not pay the invoices risk having the costs tacked onto their property tax bills. In 2019, 191 people were listed as delinquent, resulting in a total $83,866 in assessments that were approved by the Board of Supervisors.

In addition to abatement costs, delinquent owners are required to pay an administrative fee of $254 per violation.

More information about the Fire Hazard Reduction Program is available
at http://www.rvcfire.org/stationsAndFunctions/HazardReduction/Pages/default.aspx.