Thomas Fire

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Pfhorrest
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:23 pm UTC

Pretty sure there are building code requirements for roofs around here that prohibit things like wooden shingles or require things like ceramic tile, to keep embers from landing on buildings and catching them fire. There are also weed abatement requirements that prohibit people from having yards full of overgrown dry grass and such, and possibly some "such-and-such amount of defensible space" requirements, though those might just be recommendations, I'm not sure.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Thesh » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:26 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:I think the two parts fo the question are "can we relocate where we build houses to avoid creating fire issues" and "can we redesign how we build and plan our houses and developments with fire in mind". I know in hurricane-sensitive areas it's a matter of both; you want to build away from beaches and floodplains that are likely to get the brunt of flooding and you design houses to be sensitive to winds and flood by raising the floor height, requiring storm shutters or covering windows, etc. Is there anything like that that's doable for fires?



You can build away from areas with dry brush, which is not easy in that area. You can have plants and trees near your house, or surrounding the development that are more resistant to fire and irrigated so they are not dead or dormant during a dry winter. Other than that, sprinkler systems are probably the best method of fire control (not common in single-family homes), but using clay tiles instead of shingles to protect against embers can help a lot.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby freezeblade » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:38 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Chicago requires all homes to be a certain percent stone ever since the 1871 fire.


Chicago also isn't built on fault lines. California homes are overwhelmingly stick frame construction, as (un-reinforced) masonry is actually against building code, and reinforcing masonry is expensive to the point where it's actually impractical from a cost standpoint.

That said, there is an abundance of codes for new construction specifically focusing on flammability, including extensive sections on fire-abatement, addressing methods described by Pfhorrest (Mainly building materials specifications).

The problem is that these affect new construction, not existing (grandfathered in) buildings.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby dg61 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:29 pm UTC

I wonder if shifting landscaping practices away from grass(which is a massive water hog) and towards drought-sensitive plants would help.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:00 pm UTC

I meant to check where the tumbleweed town was, with respect to the Pfhorrest Fire area. Probably nowhere near, but also might feature well in the fire/mud/whatever cyclic competition.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:27 pm UTC

Victorville is out in the desert, toward Barstow. There's not enough vegetation for a fire like we had, nor enough hills for mudslides, nor enough rain for mudslides even if there were hills to slide (hence the lack of vegetation, natch). Instead they have wind, and dust, and, apparently, tumbleweeds. And probably meth. The desert is full of meth. Fuck the desert.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:35 am UTC

So, drought/desert beats mudslides, and tumbleweeds beat desert, and meth beats tumbleweeds? Then fire beats meth?

Fire, beats meth and weeds, beaten by mud and drought
Mud, beats fire and meth, beaten by drought and weeds
Drought, beats mud and fire, beaten by weeds and meth
Weeds, beats drought and mud, beaten by meth and fire
Meth, beats weeds and drought, beaten by fire and mud

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CelticNot » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:30 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:So, drought/desert beats mudslides, and tumbleweeds beat desert, and meth beats tumbleweeds? Then fire beats meth?


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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:30 am UTC

Thought I'd share this nice photo from last weekend of the burn area near the lake regrowing:

IMG_1382.JPG


Stupid why does it look upside-down when I post here but nowhere else...
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby eran_rathan » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:20 am UTC

Your gravity generator appears broken. Have you tried turning it off and back on again?



Nice spot though.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:51 pm UTC

Nah, it's California. Everything is topsy-turvy over there.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ucim » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:09 am UTC

Sheeple! Don't you see? There is no such thing as "California" - it's all fake news. Pfhorrest lives in Australia and is trying to pretend to be in the United States, so he invented "California" and has managed to infiltrate all the newspapers, books, maps, and the entire internet to convince people that he's on this side of the globe flat earth. He's one of the lizard people who lives underneath theaCV;a :E Wait a minute, what are thqdxm[xaf dsa doing here? ;NO! Youcan'tqmq23m aq ...

Sorry about that. No problem here. Everything is hunky dory. How are you?

It's just the image metadata - some programs interpret it, others ignore it.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:40 pm UTC

ucim wrote:It's just the image metadata - some programs interpret it, others ignore it.

That doesn't explain why the image looks upside-down when embedded in the forum, but if I right click to view image, even the thumbnail shows up right-side-up in the same browser, as well as if I click the link to see the full-size image off the server, or if I view the full-size image in the same browser locally.

You're right about the lizard people thing though, in any case.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ucim » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:56 pm UTC

Different parts of the same program may implement photo viewing differently. It's almost as if different people wrote different parts of the code, and then mashed it together under a shipping deadline. As a test, take a picture using all four orientations, under all camera settings of orientation preservation. See what happens.

(Note - computer programming should not be an experimental science, but all too often it comes out that way. :)

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Chen » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:34 pm UTC

It appears correct on my phone too. I was super confused at all the comments here because I first saw the thread on my phone. Now at work I see the upside down image. Very odd.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CelticNot » Tue May 01, 2018 8:50 pm UTC

Similarly, my phone knows how to read metadata from pictures I take with it so it knows which way is "up", but Discord does not. It's kind of frustrating sharing pictures that end up canted 90 degrees left or right.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby ucim » Tue May 01, 2018 10:50 pm UTC

Even if a device knows what the metadata means, sometimes you want the other device to ignore it. Otherwise, you get a vertical picture taken with a regular camera held sideways displayed on a cell phone in such a way that it's letterboxed, rotated, and pillarboxed, always in the manner that no matter which way you hold your phone, the image won't fill the screen because the software keeps rotating the image the wrong way.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:14 am UTC

Today I went for a hike to the top of Cozy Dell Trail near my house (well, 5 min drive to a trail and then an hour hike uphill from there), for the first time since I went up there after the Thomas Fire, and when processing the pics I took, I realized that I got a pic from pretty much the exact same place at the exact same angle as one of the pics I took when I went there after the fire. The before and after effect I think is pretty staggering:

2018-01-03:
Image

2019-03-12:
Image
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:34 am UTC

Life, uh, finds a way.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Deva » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:19 am UTC

Good pictures. Regrew quite quickly. Hopes for the same resilience for affected people.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:31 am UTC

Deva wrote:Good pictures. Regrew quite quickly. Hopes for the same resilience for affected people.

To be frank, I hope they all realize not everyone should live in the midst of nature. Especially if it's just going to dry out & burn again next year.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:39 am UTC

As I noted while it was happening, almost everything that burned was wilderness, which was allowed to burn as part of normal forest management policy. Almost all of the inhabited area threatened by the fire was protected; pretty much the only damage to structures was in places right on the edge of the part of the wilderness where the fire began, in the middle of the night, before anyone could react.

You can even see in these pics, in the first one, down in the valley below, there's still green, surrounded by all the grey and black. The grey and black had nothing but wild brush there; everywhere that had anything worth protecting, even just the orchards, is untouched.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:00 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:As I noted while it was happening, almost everything that burned was wilderness, which was allowed to burn as part of normal forest management policy. Almost all of the inhabited area threatened by the fire was protected; pretty much the only damage to structures was in places right on the edge of the part of the wilderness where the fire began, in the middle of the night, before anyone could react.

You can even see in these pics, in the first one, down in the valley below, there's still green, surrounded by all the grey and black. The grey and black had nothing but wild brush there; everywhere that had anything worth protecting, even just the orchards, is untouched.

When it caught fire last time, did the fire dept arrive to assist?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:42 am UTC

What is "it", and when is "last time"? I don't know what you're asking.

Before the Thomas Fire, the last big fire in the area was the Wheeler Fire, in 1985, more than three decades earlier, a generation ago. The inhabited part of the valley didn't burn in that fire either, just the wilderness, which was allowed to burn on purpose, just like this time. I'm sure the fire department was involved in making sure the inhabited areas didn't burn.

I hope you're not suggesting that if a fire department is necessary, people are living in the wrong place?

Also, you realize that it's the existence of inhabited places that protects other inhabited places from wildfires? Precisely because roads and plumbing enable rapid effective fire department response. If what's currently on the edge of the wilderness wasn't inhabited, then there would be more wilderness there, and someone else would be on the edge of that, wherever the next nearest settlement was. There's always going to be someone on the edge of the wilderness, unless you're suggesting there should be no wilderness at all.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:50 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:What is "it", and when is "last time"? I don't know what you're asking.
Before the Thomas Fire, the last big fire in the area was the Wheeler Fire, in 1985, more than three decades earlier, a generation ago. The inhabited part of the valley didn't burn in that fire either, just the wilderness, which was allowed to burn on purpose, just like this time. I'm sure the fire department was involved in making sure the inhabited areas didn't burn.
I hope you're not suggesting that if a fire department is necessary, people are living in the wrong place?
Also, you realize that it's the existence of inhabited places that protects other inhabited places from wildfires? Precisely because roads and plumbing enable rapid effective fire department response. If what's currently on the edge of the wilderness wasn't inhabited, then there would be more wilderness there, and someone else would be on the edge of that, wherever the next nearest settlement was. There's always going to be someone on the edge of the wilderness, unless you're suggesting there should be no wilderness at all.

The rising intensity of wildfires seen over the past few decades is the result of several overlapping trends, said Stephen Pyne, a professor at Arizona State University who studies the history of United States wildfire management. Climate change has lengthened the fire season, housing sprawl is creeping into fire-prone wildland, and fire agencies are struggling to coordinate holistic fire and land management, Dr. Pyne said.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... fires.html
What I'm implying is that wildfires are no different from a hurricane*. Mostly predictable disasters that happen in the same areas, and then people build houses there. Aka some Californians are no better than those jerks/poor souls who like to live on floodplains "because it's pretty". You do realize that there are better barriers to wildlife besides a suburban house right? For example, you could build only the road and plumbing.

Edit: If you live in a fireprone area, and the government only protects the town, it's a bit more nuanced, but still questionable. Did the town grow outwards towards the forest? It's not easy to uproot a whole town, and it's usually done by mandating policies that limit/reverse suburban sprawl. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Fi ... cal_Damage
At least 1,063 structures have been destroyed in the fire.[95] Numerous single-family homes were destroyed along with the Hawaiian Village Apartments in the hills above downtown Ventura and 12 houses for guest workers of Limoneira Co. near Santa Paula. The downtown Harbor View Apartments and the Vista del Mar hospital (a psychiatric facility) on the west side of Ventura were among the complexes that were heavily damaged.[12][96] The Ojai Valley School, near the city of Ojai, was heavily damaged with two buildings being destroyed.[97] The Thomas Fire destroyed multiple expensive homes in the Montecito area. On December 23, the Thomas Fire was estimated to have caused over $120 million in property losses, in Santa Barbara County.[98]
There's definitely housing out in the woods that could have been built somewhere else.

To answer your question, is the fire dept called all at once to every house during a giant fire? Will it happen again and again? Are the conditions similar to elsewhere in CA with giant fires?(trickier to figure out) Then maybe you shouldn't live there (aka live there without government funded safety nets).

*Many flooded houses get rebuilt on the same spot, only to be flooded again in the following decade. With global warming, it's only getting worse.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:43 pm UTC

The biggest cause of the problem that is rebuilding flooded houses in the US is that flood insurance is guaranteed issue through the government, with no additional cost for building in flood prone areas.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:10 pm UTC

What I'm implying is that wildfires are no different from a hurricane*.

Except that hurricanes are annual, and fires like this are generational.

You do realize that there are better barriers to wildlife besides a suburban house right? For example, you could build only the road and plumbing.

We have those. They're called fire roads. They're built in the places that it's useful to have them to defend inhabited areas from fires. If the inhabited areas weren't there, the fire roads wouldn't be there either, because there's no point in putting out a wildfire in the middle of nowhere that's not threatening anybody (which is why most of the burn areas of fires like this are just allowed to burn: there's nothing out there to protect).

At least 1,063 structures have been destroyed in the fire.[95] Numerous single-family homes were destroyed along with the Hawaiian Village Apartments in the hills above downtown Ventura and 12 houses for guest workers of Limoneira Co. near Santa Paula. The downtown Harbor View Apartments and the Vista del Mar hospital (a psychiatric facility) on the west side of Ventura were among the complexes that were heavily damaged.[12][96] The Ojai Valley School, near the city of Ojai, was heavily damaged with two buildings being destroyed.[97] The Thomas Fire destroyed multiple expensive homes in the Montecito area. On December 23, the Thomas Fire was estimated to have caused over $120 million in property losses, in Santa Barbara County.[98]

I can't speak to the Montecito/Santa Barbara angle of that, but everything else that you listed is either in Foothill Road in Ventura, or out in Upper Ojai Valley, between which is where the fire started, in the middle of the night, before anybody could react. Ojai Valley School I would describe as being out in a wilderness kind of area, but all of the rest of that is basically the edge of down town Ventura: the city spans the coast until the foothills get tpo steep to build and then it stops there, at Foothill Road, and there's wilderness across the hills until they drop down into Ojai Valley on the other side. If there had been adequate response time, the fire roads out in those foothills would have protected the Foothill Road area, but by the time anyone knew what was going on it had already blown clear across them, and Foothill Road itself became the defense line. If nothing was built on Foothill Road, then that block would still be wilderness, and the same problem would apply to the next block down the hill; and so on, and so on, down to the coast, until there would be no more Ventura at all anymore.

To answer your question, is the fire dept called all at once to every house during a giant fire?

They're generally called out to the fire roads to build defense lines for the entire city, and then called to specific structures that are specifically threatened by breaches of those defense lines as necessary.

Will it happen again and again?

Once a generation, maybe.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:39 pm UTC

Citation needed on generational fire. There's been endless reports about fires every year, and strained fire fighting budgets. You're probably trying to limit your sample size down to 1 town, and extrapolating that it's ok to live in areas that are combustible because the individual risk is low. Ironically, hurricanes are similar in that the entire coast is under threat, but only a couple coasts are affected by hurricanes at any particular month.

Second, using historical fires as a predictor of the future is foolish given the climate change in California.

I find it strange that the Ventura must build to the edge of the wilderness in your hypothetical.
Edit are you claiming the journalists are wrong about wild fires in California?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:09 pm UTC

If you want to know why people live somewhere, the answer is usually "that's where the jobs are," or optionally "that's as close to where the jobs are as possible while still being affordable."
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:29 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:If you want to know why people live somewhere, the answer is usually "that's where the jobs are," or optionally "that's as close to where the jobs are as possible while still being affordable."

Right, but this isn't the unseen hand of the market. We have government, and can impose rules. Just like how DC has rules limiting high density housing, you can push people closer together and farther away from combustible vegetation.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:08 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Citation needed on generational fire. There's been endless reports about fires every year, and strained fire fighting budgets. You're probably trying to limit your sample size down to 1 town, and extrapolating that it's ok to live in areas that are combustible because the individual risk is low. Ironically, hurricanes are similar in that the entire coast is under threat, but only a couple coasts are affected by hurricanes at any particular month.

Since this thread is about the Thomas fire specifically, yes, I am talking about this one town I live in, or I guess the several towns around the periphery of this fire. I don't know where I can find something like a list of fires by narrower location than the whole state, but Wikipedia has a list of California fires and you can see for yourself how few of them strike the same places over and over again. Yes, there's usually a fire somewhere or another in this enormous state every few years, but it's not the same houses burning down and rebuilding over and over again like you imply.

Maybe you can set me straight about hurricanes, but the impression I've always had is that some large swath of the east and south coasts gets wrecked by at least one hurricane regularly every single year, and that people are actually rebuilding the same houses in the same places over and over again because, as someone said upthread, flood insurance is broken in a way that encourages that.

(Side note: it occurred to me, rereading that bit about the "multiple" homes in Montecito and the $120M in property damage: $120M is fewer than twelve median houses in the Santa Barbara area. Montecito is the more expensive part of the area, where houses easily run multiple millions each. The main part of Montecito didn't get touched by the fire, just the foothills behind it, which I've seen first hand; but there are some ridiculously expensive mansions on hilltops back in those foothills. So most likely, less than a literal handful of astronomically wealthy people lost their hilltop castles, and that's the whole $120M in property damage, while the actual city where real people live was undamaged).

I find it strange that the Ventura must build to the edge of the wilderness in your hypothetical.

I find it strange that you seem not to grasp that wherever you build to is the edge of the wilderness, definitionally. Everywhere is wilderness, until you build something there. Wherever you stop building, that's the edge of the wilderness, so there's always going to be something built on the edge of the wilderness. You only get somewhere to be not-the-edge-of-the-wilderness by something more being built even further into what-used-to-be-wilderness than that.

Real Ventura built to the edge of the relatively flat land, and stopped where it got too hilly, so the hills are the wilderness here. They could have stopped some margin short of there, leaving a margin of flat land between the edge of the city and the hills, but then, by virtue of not having built anything there, the place that's now the outskirts of the city would instead still be the wilderness that it used to be, and wherever they stopped building instead would be the edge of the wilderness instead of where it is now. They could build up into the hills further than they have, too, and extend the city into what's now the wilderness, and that would mean that what's currently the edge of the wilderness would then be safely in the middle of not-wilderness; but then there's just some other edge of the wilderness somewhere else.

You can't get rid of the edge between wilderness and civilization, unless you either have no wilderness or no civilization. I get the feeling that you must live somewhere so far from wilderness that it seems like there just isn't any, otherwise this inescapable mathematical fact would be obvious to you.
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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby idonno » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:14 am UTC

sardia wrote:Ironically, hurricanes are similar in that the entire coast is under threat, but only a couple coasts are affected by hurricanes at any particular month.
Is your argument that we should abandon the entire coast because we can guarantee that parts of it will be hit by hurricanes? What is the probability of damage from fires and what is the acceptable risk in your opinion? Why exactly are local fire department costs, unsubsidized insurance costs, and personal risk other areas accept even any of your business?

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby sardia » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:41 am UTC

idonno wrote:Is your argument that we should abandon the entire coast because we can guarantee that parts of it will be hit by hurricanes? What is the probability of damage from fires and what is the acceptable risk in your opinion? Why exactly are local fire department costs, unsubsidized insurance costs, and personal risk other areas accept even any of your business?

For the short term answer, people shouldn't build in a floodzone(because they flood. Where are floodzones? https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/ Every year that passes, these zones grow.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:33 am UTC

If the place is expected to flood every 50 years and do $200,000 of damage, just charge the person $4k per year and let them build there, but you absolutely must charge them lest they build riverfront property and then have everyone else pay to rebuild every couple of years. Same with fires, if it's expected to burn down every 50 years then they should pay the $4k per year it costs on average. If the risk is far greater than the actual value of living there, then they have to squish in to a tinier (and thus easier to replace) home or trailer, or live somewhere else.

On a related note, I wonder; would 3D printed homes have an impact on where it's "acceptable" to live? I mean, if a home can be built for $20,000 instead of $200,000, then if it floods every 10 years it's still economical to build there, but then having your home destroyed will eventually become so common it's basically a rite of passage for people...

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby Sableagle » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:48 pm UTC

The flood risk you can mitigate with stilts and maybe highly permeable hardcore under all your roads.

My suggestion for New Orleans was to elevate the footways and replace the streetcars with cablecars.

For hurricanes you ... well, I guess you have to flood-protect and armour all your houses, making them more expensive to build and more expensive to repair but much less likely to need repairing.

For wildfires? Heck of a sprinkler system?

For the flood and hurricane risks you have a really great way to raise a home out of the flood zone without having to put down an extra 400 m^2 of platform, of course: put it on top of another home.

Rather than everyone insisting on having a detached or semi-detached house with front and read gardens and off-road parking, have low-rise apartment buildings with communal gardens and a public transport system.
Oh, Willie McBride, it was all done in vain.

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Re: Thomas Fire

Postby commodorejohn » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:20 pm UTC

I mean, if you're going to have the government forcibly relocate anybody who lives in an area where major natural disasters can occur, you're basically going to end up cramming the entire country into Utah.

And we need Utah for datacenters, dammit!
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