Vegetation Management


Acceptable plants are listed in the approved fuel modification plant list, Wildland-Urban Interface Development Standards, June 1997 Revision. Additional plants may be added to the landscape Plant Material Palette with approval from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District and the County of San Diego.

Hazard Abatement Requirements

Appointments are available for on-site education regarding wildfire safety and vegetation-hazard abatement. To schedule an appointment or discuss a violation issue, please call 858-756-5971.

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District's Hazard Abatement Program is a year-round effort designed to reduce vegetation hazards for the protection of lives and property in the event of a major conflagration.

The property owner or manager of a property is responsible for the following:

  1. Maintain properties in compliance with the below requirements at all times.
  2. Maintain an effective defensible space or fuel modification zone around all structures or along fire apparatus access roads, including private residential driveways, by modifying all flammable vegetation as described below.
  3. Remove and properly dispose of trash, rubbish, debris, and other combustible materials that create a fire hazard.

Requirement #1 - Defensible Space Around Structures
Requirement #2 - Roadway Clearance
Additional Requirements
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Requirement #1 - Defensible Space around Structures | Top

Property owners are required to remove and/or modify native brush and grasses within 100 feet of any structure either on or adjacent to the property. Any species of non-native plants may exist in this area if it is properly maintained; see Vegetation Management Ordinance 2015-001 for additional guidelines.

Unimproved Property: Owners of unimproved property must comply with all requirements mentioned above if part of the unimproved property lies within 100 feet of an adjacent structure, regardless of ownership. The unimproved portion that is within 100 feet of a structure must comply with requirements listed here within.

Requirement #2 - Roadway Clearance | Top

Acceptable Methods for Fuel Modification and Removal

Additional Weed Abatement Requirements | Top
Requirements pertain to all portions of a property or parcel.

Eucalyptus and Conifer Trees: Eucalyptus and conifer (any of the cone-bearing, gymnospermous trees and shrubs, mostly evergreen, including the pine, spruce, fir, cedar, yew, and cypress) trees are highly flammable and extremely combustible under the right conditions. The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District highly discourages the planting of any additional non-fire resistive trees near a combustible structure, and recommends thinning and maintaining those already existing on your property. Remove all fallen limbs, litter, debris and loose bark from trees and the ground. Remove ground leaves to a depth not to exceed three inches. For more information about fire resistive trees, please see our Plant and Landscape Guide (pdf).

Landscape Cuttings: Highly flammable dead and discarded growth cannot be dumped or discarded on public or private land. Properly maintained mulch piles are allowed, and chipping is encouraged and can be spread to a height not to exceed six inches. Property owners who have areas with dumped or discarded landscape cuttings are asked to remove them, as they are an extreme fire hazard to the entire community.

Dead and/or Dying Trees: All dead and/or dying trees, groves or forests shall be removed as well as dead branches and foliage.

Active / Inactive Groves: All groves shall be maintained in a healthy state. All dead growth must be removed. All trimmings, ground litter, and under story (e.g., forbs or grasses) shall be cleared to mineral soil.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas: Property owners who have been notified of a rare, threatened, or endangered species/plant on their property must contact the California Department of Fish & Game at least ten days prior to the commencement of work to meet the Fire District's abatement requirements. If the landowner is aware of any state or federal listed species on their property, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish & Game should be notified prior to the abatement.

Private Communities: The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District continues to work with private communities to create plans for increased neighborhood fire safety. Check with your homeowners association regarding their easements, setbacks, etc., prior to beginning your abatement projects. All property owners are required to meet the Fire District's fire safety and weed abatement standards, including Association-owned easement areas.

Contact Us
For answers to your basic questions about vegetation management, please contact us via email at If more in depth information is needed please call us 858-756-5971 and make an appointment. Thank you.