A DEIR was prepared for the initial Draft VMP and circulated for public review in November 2020. That document is referred to herein as the “prior 2020 DEIR.” In addition to comments received during the prior 2020 DEIR public review period, the Oakland Fire Department (OFD) received additional comments on the VMP from City representatives and the public. Since then, OFD revised the initial Draft VMP further to address this additional feedback. The City has prepared this Recirculated DEIR to evaluate the environmental impacts of changes made to the Revised Draft VMP since 2020.
The main revision in the Revised Draft VMP is to expand the vegetation management areas from 30 feet to 100 feet wide along roadsides in the City’s VHFHSZ, focused on removing or thinning dead and dying trees (not healthy trees) that are present on City-owned property. In addition, some of the maintenance standards have been revised to expand vegetation management activities around habitable structures to provide more defensible space around these structures. These updates to the Revised Draft VMP are considered “significant new information” that require recirculation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The Vegetation Management (Plan) covers more
than 1,900 acres of City property plus treatment areas along approximately 300
miles of roadside. Vegetation management activities conducted on these lands
currently includes goat grazing on nine sites covering approximately 1,300
acres, vegetation clearing along 16 roadways (58 miles), monitoring for
vegetation clearance along approximately 300 miles of road within the High and
Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (16.5 square miles), and brush clearance
on critical City-owned properties (~332 acres). The Plan and EIR evaluate these
and additional vegetation management practices to reduce fire hazard.
Since 1923, more than a dozen major wildfires have impacted the Oakland hills, resulting in extensive damage, economic harm, and loss of life. Most notably, the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley firestorm burned over 1,500 acres, destroyed more than 3,000 homes, caused the deaths of 25 people, and injured over 150 people. Most of the Oakland hills fall within High or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (FHSZ), as designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), where vegetation must be actively managed to reduce the threat and devastating effects of future wildfires. The FHSZs in the Oakland hills include areas described as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), which are characterized by hot and dry fall seasons, high winds, dense flammable vegetation, steep and varied terrain, hill slope development, and limited accessibility for emergency responders.
Public Review and Comment Period:
The City of Oakland has published the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (Recirculated DEIR) for the Revised Draft Oakland Vegetation Management Plan (Revised Draft VMP). The EIR recirculation is due to revisions made to the Draft VMP since the prior 2020 DEIR was made available for public review. Key revisions to the Draft VMP include expanding the roadside buffer width from 30 feet to 100 where the City's focus would be to remove or thin dead or dying trees on City owned parcels adjacent to roadways in the FHSZs. This change in project activity required the City to reconsider the previous environmental analysis and findings, thus the reason for the project delay and distribution of a Revised Draft VMP and a Recirculated DEIR.
A hard copy of the Recirculated DEIR is also available for review by the public during normal operating hours at the Oakland Fire Department office at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3354, Oakland, CA 94612. The public review period is from Wednesday, September 20, 2023 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Comments on the Recirculated DEIR may be submitted in the following ways:
Attn: Ken Schwarz, Principal, Revised Draft VMP Recirculated DEIR Comments
1 Kaiser Plaza, Suite 340
Oakland, CA 94612
In addition, the City of Oakland Planning Commission will conduct a public meeting on the Recirculated DEIR for the VMP on November 1, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.
For information about how to participate in this meeting, please visit: https://www.oaklandca.gov/boards-commissions/planning-commission/meetings.