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HomeNewsHomeowners propose building code amendments

Homeowners propose building code amendments

Changes would ease requirements for post-fire builders

Property owners who lost homes in the 2021 Dixie fire could be in for some relief when they are ready to rebuild.

Proposed amendments to the Plumas County Title 25 building ordinance, which regulates housing and community development, would ease restrictions on lot size, solar and sprinkler requirements in specific areas for a window of five years, enabling owners to rebuild structures similar to those that were destroyed. 

The modifications of the Plumas County building codes are on schedule for taking effect on Oct. 19.

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“These changes provide flexibility for wildfire victims,” said Tracy Ferguson, Plumas County planning director.

“These changes provide flexibility for wildfire victims.”

Tracy Ferguson, planning director

Victims of the Dixie fire have been requesting leniency on rebuilding since the fire, which destroyed nearly 800 homes. Among them are around 100 homes in Warner Valley, a seasonal community 10 miles north of Chester near the southeast entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The community stretches for 12 miles along the Chester Warner Valley Road.

On June 15, 77 of the community’s 200 homeowners submitted a petition saying they wanted to make the Plumas County Board of Supervisors “aware of the highest priority items necessary to make rebuilding feasible” in Warner Valley. 

The amended Title 25 would allow the community’s off-grid seasonal cabin owners to rebuild low-density post-fire housing, the homeowners said. 

The proposed changes would allow lot sizes as small as a quarter of an acre and would lift the requirement that the dwelling be a primary residence. They would also temporarily lift the mandate for including solar and sprinkler systems currently in the county code.

Homes would still need to meet the existing one-story requirement but the height restriction would be raised to 30 feet to accommodate steep lots or A-frame designs. The proposed amendments would sunset Dec. 31, 2028, Ferguson said. 

“It’s exciting that the process is finally coming to fruition,” said Sue Weber, coordinator of the Dixie Fire Collaborative. She and the Warner Valley homeowners have been asking for the changes for over a year.

On May 10, 2022, Building Services Director Chuck White and Ferguson briefed the supervisors on the proposal. The supervisors directed them to gather additional information for an amended Title 25 ordinance. The changes are specific to the Dixie fire and Beckwourth Complex boundaries, Ferguson said.

Greenville, Indian Falls and Canyon Dam homeowners will also benefit from the changes, Weber said: “We finally have an understanding that ordinances are not to tell people what to do but to give them every opportunity to find the easiest pathway possible to rebuilding. 

“We finally have an understanding that ordinances are not to tell people what to do but to give them every opportunity to find the easiest pathway possible to rebuilding.”

Sue Weber, DFC coordinator

“This allows them to choose the pros and cons and decide what’s best for them,” Weber said. 

Ferguson will post the proposed Title 25 amendments for public comment on Sept. 1. If they are adopted  at a final reading of the ordinance scheduled for Sept. 19, homeowners could receive building permits as soon as Oct. 19, Ferguson said.  

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