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Wildland Fire Hazard and Urban Development Pattern: Why California Civil Code 1103 Fails to Protect Households from Wildfires

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  • Xu, Wenchao
  • Wu, JunJie

Abstract

Recent years have seen mass casualties and severe property damage caused by wildland fires. With increasing housing development in natural-amenity-rich fire-prone areas, human activities not only exert intense pressures on local ecosystems, but also increase difficulties for wildland fire suppression. To cope with wildland fire threats and protect life and property from wildfire, a new California Natural Hazard Disclosure Law (California Civil Code Sec. 1103) went into effect in 1998. Information disclosure required by Sec. 1103 and its related laws is expected to enhance the efficiency of market allocation of land and developments in hazardous areas, making land price and development pattern better reflect the benefit and risk of living in the natural hazard zones. However, Troy and Romm (2004) suggested that the California Natural Hazard Disclosure Law had no effect for the overall population of fire-zone houses and did not stop overdevelopment in wildfire hazardous areas. In this paper, we expand a classic urban economics model to explore the impact of wildland fire-zone designations on housing development patterns in both a general equilibrium framework and a quantifiable manner. We conduct simulation studies to characterize the changes in urban development patterns and spatial profiles in response to the dynamics of wildland fire regimes. Our model and simulation results reveal the behaviors of residents and local governments and help us understand why Sec. 1103 and its related laws fail to stop over-development in wildfire hazardous areas.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin with number 49428.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea09:49428

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Keywords: wildfire; land use; urban development pattern; income mix; natural amenity; Community/Rural/Urban Development; Land Economics/Use; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy; Risk and Uncertainty;

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  1. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  2. Wu, JunJie, 2006. "Environmental amenities, urban sprawl, and community characteristics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 527-547, September.
  3. Charles A. M. de Bartolome & Stephen L. Ross, 2002. "Equilibria with Local Governments and Commuting: Income Sorting vs. Income Mixing," Working papers 2002-01, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2003.
  4. Wu, JunJie & Plantinga, Andrew J., 2003. "The influence of public open space on urban spatial structure," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 288-309, September.
  5. McGranahan, David A., 1999. "Natural Amenities Drive Rural Population Change," Agricultural Economics Reports 33955, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  6. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
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