Flammable Tree Ban Studied
BY BILL KOENEKER
Malibu’s Public Safety Commission is poised to discuss an ordinance or policy about a ban on flammable trees at its meeting this week after The Malibu Surfside News went to press.
The panel was scheduled to talk about fire hazards related to particular trees and make a recommendation to the city council to consider whether to ban the planting of high fire risk vegetation.
The discussion builds on current policy that all new development must receive approval from the city biologist for any plants or landscaping to be installed.
The city’s current law, according to a staff report, does not specify trees that are or are not permitted within the city.
“However, the city biologist stated he does not allow pepper trees, eucalyptus or fruiting olives due to their invasive nature. Otherwise, nearly all other plants or trees are allowed within the irrigated zones. He stated further that the city allows, and even encourages, the planting of any locally native tree species,” the staff report adds.
The panelists were given a list developed by fire officials of native, fire resistant plants and trees that are recommended for fire-safe landscaping, as well as plants to avoid due to their flammability.
Fire officials strongly urge that the flammable plants and trees not be used near homes or structures and suggests that property owners consider replacing them with more fire resistant species, according to the staff report.
The list of plants to avoid are mostly nonnative and are “highly flammable.” Fire officials suggest that if these plants are already growing on one’s property, they should be considered for removal and replacement with more fire-resistant plants.
Some of the more commonly seen plants in Malibu on the “avoid” list are acacia, bougainvillea, cedar, pampas grass, cypress, eucalyptus, New Zealand flax, spruce, juniper, pine, fountain grass and all ornamental grasses.
Some natives to avoid are chamise, California sagebrush, buckwheat and large manzanitas.
Some of the plants described as having high fire resistance are agave species, dudleya species and sedum species.