We are alarmed at the false narratives being used in our county in addressing upcoming changes in the Board of Forestry’s amendments to fire safety standards. Our next newsletter will address this further. Until then, please read the submitted LTE by Deborah Eppstein of State Alliance for Firesafe Road Regulations (SAFRR).

I was shocked to read your article “Napa County says proposed state wildfire safety regulations threaten fire rebuilding. ” This is patently wrong! Both current and proposed state fire safe regulations explicitly allow wildfire victims to rebuild their homes, without needing to bring roads up to current standards. Also contrary to what is stated in the article, the proposed revised regulations do not require that driveways be widened to 14 ft. Rather they only would require that they provide periodic locations for vehicles to pass each other, a minimal safety criterion that no one should object to. Driveways would still only be required to be 10 ft wide.
The article also incorrectly says that the proposed new regulations would make ‘tighter standards’ for roads, whereas just the opposite is the case for all existing roads. As written, it implies that Napa County, just like Sonoma County, has not been even following the current regulations. Fear mongering and promoting false narratives is not only irresponsible but also is very detrimental to public safety.

Please issue a correction to your June 10 article with large headlines that will get the attention needed to correct the prior misinformation!

State minimum fire safe regulations for the State Responsibility Area were established in 1991 for a reason: development in fire-prone areas on subpar roads is a huge public safely threat. It was heartening to read the comments from Cio Perez for Vintners/Growers for Responsible Agriculture, “Public safety needs to come first, foremost…” We cannot let pro-development groups hijack public and environmental safety.

Napa and Sonoma Counties are neighbors and have many similarities- beautiful rural countryside, a healthy wine and tourist economy – and are both very fire prone. In fact, we share the same fires, with many fires spreading from Napa into Sonoma County. The 2020 Glass Fire was one such fire in which many Sonoma County residents lost homes, including myself. Safe development in fire-prone areas in both counties is essential for protecting lives, homes and the environment.

Deborah Eppstein