Fire Prevention

Saratoga is one of the 6 communities in Santa Clara County with zones designated as Very High Fire Hazard Severity by CAL FIRE. This page describes the City’s efforts to plan for and prevent wildfires. 

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)

The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area of Saratoga is at the greatest risk for wildfire. The WUI covers roughly half the City, covering the western hillsides of Saratoga. This part of the City is subject to special regulations and requirements due to the fire risk. The City works closely with Santa Clara County Fire Department and the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council to help provide information and resources to property owners in the WUI.

Wildfire Risk Mitigation Policies

Given the potential for wildfire in Saratoga, the City has worked to identify fire-related hazards in the City of Saratoga and measures to mitigate these potential risks.   

The Safety Element helps guide development in the City of Saratoga in a manner that effectively addresses potential hazards, including wildfire, and includes strategies for reducing risks associated with specific hazards.

The CWPP identifies specific wildfire risks in the City of Saratoga and strategies for minimizing those dangers. Since Saratoga is served by two separate fire protection agencies that operate independently of the City, the CWPP calls for a collaborative that includes Santa Clara County Fire, the Saratoga Fire Protection District, other local fire agencies, the City, the County, and other local government organizations, and local non-profit partners… (more)

Colorado River, Lifeline Of The West, Sees Historic Water Shortage Declaration

Kirk Siegler : npr – excerpt (excerpt) includes audio track and transcript

The first-ever shortage declaration on the Colorado River forces arid Western states to re-examine their relationship with resources many take for granted, drinking water and cheap hydroelectricity.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For the first time ever, the U.S. government declared a shortage on the Colorado River last week. That means states like Arizona that rely on the river for their water supply are seeing big cutbacks as a punishing drought continues in the west. The Colorado River and its tributaries are a lifeline to some 40 million people in multiple states, including in California, who rely on it for drinking water. The river also irrigates countless farms and generates lots of cheap hydropower. So a shortage on the Colorado is a big deal, and we wanted to hear more about that. We asked NPR’s Kirk Siegler to talk us through it. He covers the West and has been reporting on the Colorado River for years…(more)

The False Promise of Residential Infill Re-zoning and Re-development

“Despite non-stop construction of rental units, between 2010 and 2015, Seattle saw the fastest rents of any place in the US.”

Brought to our attention by the new San Jose grassroots neighborhood organization – familieshomessj.org

Advocates say canceling rent, mortgage payments during pandemic more helpful than delay of payment

By Lisa Deaderick : sandiegouniontribune – excerpt

San Diego Rent Strike 2020 is one local organization advocating for the cancellation of rent and mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic

While the moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic provided initial relief, the question of how to pay that back rent continues to hover. If the work environment we were once familiar with remains unsafe, and people can’t rely on the one-time stimulus check or unemployment benefits to cover all of their necessities, the likelihood that most people can afford to pay even one month of these delayed payments is pretty low.

One part of the response to the looming accumulation of this kind of debt has been to protest for the cancellation of rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic. Not a hold or suspension that requires the missed payments to be made later, but an outright cancellation of having to make those payments at all…(more)

JPMorgan Chase, American Homes 4 Rent plan to build thousands of single-family rental homes

By Ben Lane : housingwire – excerpt

Joint venture will develop SFR properties in West and Southeast

One of the largest operators of single-family rental homes is partnering with one of the nation’s largest banks to build thousands of new rental homes.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management, the asset management arm of JPMorgan Chase and American Homes 4 Rent announced Thursday that they are establishing a joint venture that will seek to build approximately 2,500 single-family rentals in “multiple high-growth markets in the West and Southeast.”…

As for why the companies are partnering together now, amid a recession that’s crippled many homebuilders, the companies say the timing is actually ideal given the recent shifts in behavior and an increase in people’s desire to move away from more densely populated areas..

“This partnership provides us with the opportunity to capitalize on an increasing trend amongst city dwellers to seek additional space and the appeal of high-quality suburban living in a newly constructed community,” said Mike Kelly, Head of Real Estate Americas at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“We see this shift as particularly prevalent among the Millennial generation, the largest U.S. age cohort, who are looking to transition away from apartment living,” Kelly continued. “The move towards more spread-out living is also expected to accelerate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we anticipate strong occupancy and rental growth rates across properties.”… (more)

A Backlash Against Cities Would Be Dangerous

By Scott Wiener, Anthony Iron : theatlantic – excerpt

Undue fears of urban density warp public policy—and make Americans more vulnerable.

Cities are a boon for public health—even now. As public-health experts have known for decades, people who live in a city are likely to walk and bike more often, and they live closer to community services such as grocery stores. Urban density also supports faster emergency-response times, better hospital staffing, and a greater concentration of intensive-care beds and other health-care resources.

In fact, no correlation exists between population density and rates of COVID-19 infection, according to recent studies examining the disease in China and Chicago. But if state and local governments still conclude that density itself is a problem, they are more likely to promote suburban sprawl as a matter of law—instead of making the accommodations, in their housing stock and their streetscapes, that allow people to live in cities safely and move about them comfortably…

One difference between New York City and San Francisco? The Bay Area responded to the pandemic earlier and more decisively than New York did, imposing social-distancing measures before major cities on the East Coast.…(more)

There is a difference between opposing cities and opposing unlimited growth in cities. The headline is misleading and the logic is missing. Senator Wiener aligns himself with the administration in Washington if he suggests we should return to business as usual. Most of his constituents disagree.

After being cooped up in tight quarters for weeks people are eager to get out. There was an exit from cities underway before the pandemic. Now the pace is picking up. Many workers have successfully transitioned to working at home and do not plan to return not the office. Employers are re-thinking their need for office space.

Cutting down on commuters does a better job of clearing the air than building dense transit-oriented housing and offices. The new normal will not be dense development. New health standards will require more space between people, throwing the crowding for profit principal  out. This will probably devalue property and reduce local taxes. Downsizing seems inevitable.

RELATED:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York was blunt about the rationale behind this time of quarantine.

“There is a density level in NYC that is destructive,” he tweeted Sunday, after similar comments at one of his daily press briefings. He’d seen New Yorkers out in parks together, behaving as if this were a normal sunny spring weekend, and he was dismayed. Togetherness itself could now be deadly.

“It has to stop and it has to stop now,” he tweeted. “NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density.”… (more)

Now that Twitter employees can work at home forever, what’s to become of its headquarters?

By Brock Keeling : curbed – excerpt

The tech titan’s move into an Art Deco monolith in Mid-Market was supposed to be a symbol of change.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, emailed his employees Tuesday to tell them that they can work from home permanently, even after the pandemic’s shelter-in-place order ends.

“If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement…

Under the lure of a tax break granted by the late Mayor Ed Lee, Twitter rented the building from Shorenstein Company. Amenities added inside the renovated digs include yoga rooms, a cafeteria serving artisan fare and microbrews, a rooftop deck for employees to soak in some vitamin D, and a garden.

The move, given much ink at the time, was supposed to kickstart a neighborhood-improvement trickle down effect, which wasn’t entirely successful. Restaurants boasting Michelin-starred pedigree, like Cadence and Alta, came and went in a matter of months. Open-air drug use and visible human suffering remains a problem. At best, Twitter’s presence sparked interest in the blighted area, helping nudge new housing in the neighborhood (see: Nema and Ava). At worst, the company’s Mid-Market takeover only magnified—without solving—the city’s glaring economic gap… (more)

 

Tech Workers Consider Escaping Silicon Valley’s Sky-High Rents

By Sarah Frier : bloomberg – excerpt

After major companies announce their employees won’t need to come in, many are recalculating the cost of living near the office…

Both Facebook and Google have announced that most people won’t need to come in this year, and Twitter Inc. has told some workers that if they wish to work from home permanently, they can. Employees are now considering the thousands of dollars they could save living somewhere else—maybe even permanently. Urban parents of young children suddenly find themselves coveting backyards and playrooms in larger homes that would be affordable on a tech salary pretty much anywhere except the Bay Area..

BOTTOM LINE – The pandemic is leading many tech employees to consider working from home permanently, so they can escape California’s sky-high rents for less expensive digs elsewhere….(more)

‘Hub’ plan at Market and Van Ness faces key vote

By : sfexaminer – examiner

Project would make room for more than 15,000 more residents in the transit-rich area

Planning officials on Thursday will weigh key approvals to upzone the area of Market and Van Ness, a plan which could make room for more than 15,000 more residents in the transit-rich area.

The San Francisco Planning Commission will take a vote on certifying an Environmental Impact Report for an 84-acre area development plan touching South of Market, Western Addition, Civic Center, and Mission neighborhoods. The zoning changes ,through what’s known as the Hub Plan, would increase height limits for 18 sites, boosting the number of units by 8,100 new residential units…

“It’s a big deal being decided in the middle of a pandemic,” Henderson said. “We as a city need to think about how we can house teachers and essential workers. We should be planning in that political paradigm, a post-pandemic reality.”… (more)

Coronavirus Impact: Santa Clara Co. proposal would allow more employees to work from home after pandemic

abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

Board president Cindy Chavez is laying the groundwork for what some are calling a visionary plan.

“Let’s be as creative and innovative as we can. Let’s not let all the suffering that we’ve had for the last eight weeks go to waste,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Chavez is looking for a commute-free commitment from large Silicon Valley companies, when and where it’s possible.

The proposal would start with the 22,000 employees county-wide, and if approved by the board, departments would be asked to look at ways to support as much telecommuting as possible…

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a diverse public policy organization representing more than 350 companies, supports the idea and says the more participation the business sector can have in formulating the plan, the more it’ll be embraced by others.…(more)

In my opinion working closer to home is the key to making stronger more independent cohesive neighborhoods. If more people work at home they will have more family time and more leisure time and that will translate into more time spent in their neighborhoods. The more time they spend in the neighborhoods the stronger the local communities will be.

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