Brush Clearance Inspections Expanding


LACoFD Chief Pat Sprengel, center with microphone, finishes the presentation and, with Alex Villalta (left) and Maria Grycan, prepare to answer questions from the audience.
Photo by Mary O’KEEFE

The Crescenta Valley Town Council (CVTC) hosted the Los Angeles County Fire Dept. on Tuesday night at the La Crescenta Library community room to discuss the expanded distribution of the revised annual brush clearance notices.

CVTC President Chris Kilpatrick thanked the nearly full house for attending the event.

“Some communities aren’t so lucky to have so many concerned citizens show up,” Kilpatrick said.

Kerri Lewin, CVTC member who was in charge of organizing the informational event, said she, too, had received a notice of brush clearance inspection.

“I received the notice but threw it away,” she said.

Lewin had not received a brush clearance inspection in the past and thought it was mailed to her by mistake; however, then she realized that many of her neighbors and others in the area had been receiving the notices.

LACoFD Chief Pat Sprengel, Division Three, Alex Villalta, forestry assistant Brush Clearance Unit, Forestry Prevention Services Bureau and Maria Grycan, Community Service liaison, were at the outreach event to help explain the new guidelines and why more people received notices.

This map detailed the expanded area of residences that will or already have received brush clearance notices.

“In the first week of February, many residents received brush clearance notices, and many of [those residents] received them for the first time,” he said.

That is because the state mandates that CAL FIRE (California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection) assign fire zones to all locations in the state.

“A majority of La Crescenta is in high or very high fire hazard zones,” he added. “State law mandates all single family dwellings within high or very high fire zones must be inspected.”

This means that the number of houses in La Crescenta that the fire department will be inspecting has gone from about 250 in 2021 to 2,700 in 2023.

Another notice was sent out to residents in March with more information on what residents should be aware of concerning the brush interference.

“At the end of the day, [brush clearance] helps us so we can fight fire in your neighborhood,” Sprengel said.

He and Villalta explained how fires can move very quickly, especially when wind driven, and how fire embers can travel. They assured that there are simple but important actions that residents can take to harden their dwelling against fire. For example, removing limbs that are lying on rooftops and clearing gutters are two actions that are advised by LACoFD. Shrubs and brush are often “ladder fuels” as once fire starts there it can carried onto nearby trees then onto houses.

Inspection fees have been in place since 1989. But now, due in part to the increase in the number of inspections required, fees will be assessed annually and will show up on homeowners’ November property tax bills. There is a one-year delay from the date of the inspection to seeing the assessment on homeowners’ property tax. The inspection fee was $50 for 2022, billed on the 2023 property tax bill; in 2023 the fee will be $100 and billed in 2024 and in 2024 the fee is $151 to be billed in 2025.

Inspections will begin for the La Crescenta area on May 1. There are sections within La Crescenta that are not under the mandated inspection; however, it is still advised for those residents to harden their dwellings as well. (To see the fire zone map go to, click on the binoculars icon and type in your address.)

For those who would like more information on the brush clearance inspections, call (626) 969-2375 or to make an appointment for inspection call the local fire station.

Visit and visit this article online. At the bottom is the informative form Brush Clearance, Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional meeting information will be included in the April 13 edition of the CVW.