Crews clear flammable vegetation along evacuation routes in Santa Barbara

Crews clear flammable vegetation...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara City-assigned landscaping crews are clearing dry brush and flammable vegetation along a 14-mile zone this week. 

The city has a code requiring annual vegetation clearing along roadways. 

"Our purpose in removing flammable vegetation is to reduce the risk to firefighters that are coming into this area by cutting back the vegetation and to increase the safety and protect the lives of people in this area when evacuating," said Ann Marx, Santa Barbara City Fire Wildland Specialist. 

Beginning on Tuesday, the crews cleared vegetation along Alameda Padre Serra which is considered a primary evacuation route for wildfires. 

"Observing what they've already done which was to remove everything, I'm thinking 'Oh my God.' This would be a horror if they did that here too," said Joseph Stapen, a concerned resident.

Stapen has lived in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years. He's seen countless crews trim vegetation along the road in front of his home, but he's afraid the city is clearing too much this year.

"You're going to have mud and rocks coming down Alameda Padre Serra going right into the properties. This street will be covered in mud and rocks. It'll be a hazard for anyone to drive through in the winter when it rains. They're creating a bigger problem," said Stapen. 

Crews will continue to work in the area until Thursday evening. 

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