Joining numerous other counties in opposition, Trinity County has gone on the record against proposed legislation that would prohibit all retail, commercial, industrial and residential development in specified fire-prone areas of California.

SB 474 was introduced in Feb. 2019 by California Sen. Henry Stern representing parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. It was most recently amended in June 2020. It would prohibit new development within all areas designated by the state as very high fire hazard severity zones and/or state responsibility areas.

In a letter of opposition sent in July to Sen. Stern, the Trinity County Board of Supervisors noted that recent wildfires in California have been increasingly catastrophic with the most destructive and deadly wildfires outpacing the previous year’s statistics, but said SB 474 is not the answer.

“Trinity County struggles with a housing shortage, especially homes affordable to low and very-low income families and the elderly. A bill of this nature will prevent any expansions in Trinity County,” it said, adding SB 474 prohibits all commercial and residential development in very high fire severity zones and state responsibility areas including mobile homes, accessory dwelling units and any industrial/retail/commercial projects.

It said those lands encompass the majority of the population in Trinity County and claimed “the broad and overreaching nature of this bill will destroy the economic viability of Trinity County by prohibiting any retail project or even placing a mobile home on family land. Depriving individual property owners of the ability to utilize land or engage in legitimate business, presents with potential lawsuits which will add additional costs to the affected individual and to the taxpayers of the state.

“As catastrophic wildfires become the new normal, it is imperative that California enacts policies that plan and develop communities to best mitigate fire risk. However, with a continuing housing shortage, fire-safe policies must not exacerbate the affordable housing crisis and disenfranchise families that call this state home. For these reasons, we must respectfully oppose SB 474.”

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