Hazardous Vegetation & Rubbish Abatement Program
Preventing hazardous conditions and protecting public health and safety
Each year after the rains, vegetation can quickly grow out of control. Tall weeds and overgrowth can harbor vermin and create other nuisances. Weeds and brush are not only unsightly but also pose a significant safety hazard when they become dry fuel for fire to consume. In addition, overgrowth of vegetation can impede the public's ability to use the streets and sidewalks.
Therefore, the City's Hazardous Vegetation and Rubbish Abatement Program requires property owners to alleviate potentially hazardous conditions and to maintain their property throughout the year.
The mission of the City of program is for the annual removal of combustible fuel such as weeds, brush, dead trees, and rubbish from unimproved properties within the city limits including abatement of nuisances such as fill dirt and debris from illegal dumping, through the cooperation of affected property owners according to the Lake Elsinore Municipal Code, Chapter 8.18. 152.
The responsibility of the program shall fall under the oversight of the City's Office of the Fire Marshal, Code Enforcement and Public Works departments, as noted below; subcontracting the inspection and clearing of properties to an outside contractor and including physical property inspections prior to noticing.
Code Enforcement shall be responsible for any vacant or occupied property located outside of the High Fire Areas within the City.
Office of the Fire Marshal shall be responsible for any vacant property located within the High Fire Areas within the City. High Fire maps may be accessed via the CalFire High Fire Hazard Severity Map here (click on binoculars to search)
Public Works shall be responsible for any property adjacent to the public right-of-way, up to 8' from the roadways.
For questions, please contact the City at 951-674-3124 ext. 227. If you wish to dispute a notice, you must submit a written appeal to the WeedAbatement@Lake-Elsinore.org within 15 days of the date of this notice. The appeal shall state the reasons why this notice is incorrect. A hearing on the appeal shall be conducted pursuant to Lake Elsinore Municipal Code Section 8.18.040.
- Why did I receive a notice for my vacant, unimproved property?
The mission of the City of Lake Elsinore's Hazardous Vegetation and Rubbish Abatement Program is for the removal of combustible fuel such as weeds, brush, dead trees, debris, fill dirt and rubbish from all unimproved, vacant parcels within the city limits.
Recently, your vacant, unimproved property was inspected for hazardous vegetation and/or rubbish and was identified as a property that contains vegetation and/or rubbish that can create health, fire and/or safety issues within the City.
This notice is an annual courtesy reminder, sent to property owners of vacant parcels within the City, urging them to clear any vegetation and/or rubbish on your property within 30 days of the date of the notice. Please see the attached Hazardous Vegetation and Rubbish Abatement Standards for additional information.
After 30 days, the City will be conducting follow-up inspections on all vacant properties. Properties not in compliance with Chapter 8.18 of the Lake Elsinore Municipal Code (LEMC) will be issued an official Notice of Violation and a fee may be imposed for non-compliance.
- I already cleared my property. Why am I still receiving this notice?
As part of the City's program and procedures, all vacant properties are inspected individually for hazardous vegetation and/or rubbish. The date of this inspection is noted in the third paragraph of the notice. If you have cleared your property since the inspection date, you may disregard this notice. If it was cleared prior to the inspection, please refer to the attached Hazardous Vegetation & Rubbish Abatement Standards for additional information on the expectations for vacant, unimproved properties in the City.
- There is debris and garbage on my property, and I didn't put it there ' why am I responsible?
If you are the property owner, then you are exclusively responsible for maintaining the condition of that property per Chapter 8.18 of the LEMC.
- I no longer own the property, why was I sent this notice?
Unfortunately, at times property owner records are not always up to date. Notices are sent to the last known owner on Riverside County's assessment roll. If you are no longer the owner, please contact the County of Riverside Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder at Riverside ACR or call at 951-955-6200.
- Where can I find a weed abatement contractor?
We suggest tree services, mowing services or weed control services, which are listed in various yellow pages under these headings. We recommend getting three bids and making sure contractors are licensed and provide proof of Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance.
- Do I have the right to an appeal hearing?
Yes. If you protest the code as it pertains to your parcel or if you want to request an exemption from clearing the property at this time, you must submit the appeal in writing to WeedAbatement@Lake-Elsinore.org. Parcels cannot arbitrarily be exempted.
- What will happen if I do nothing to the property and don't request an appeal hearing?
The property will be cleared by a City contractor and the property owner will be billed for all costs including an administrative fee for the abatement of the property per LEMC Chapter 8.18.
- How do I know if a plant species is native?
Generally, if it is irrigated and living it is ornamental, if it is not irrigated and living it is native.
- My neighbor has combustible vegetation within 100' of my house. Can I clear their property?
It is always best to contact the property owner to request permission to clear an adjacent property. If unsuccessful, please contact WeedAbatement@Lake-Elsinore.org and provide an address, the nature of the concern, a photograph (if possible) and contact information, so that we may contact you if we have additional questions.
- What roads are subject to the 10' clearance of combustible native habitat requirements on either side?
Any road or driveway that provides access to a structure is defined as a roadway and subject to these clearing requirements.
- What does it mean to maintain horizontal clearance of vegetation alongside a roadway?
Any road must be maintained to its improved (graded or paved) width; nothing may encroach upon the roadway or driveway that reduces its original width.
- What roads are subject to the 13' 6" vertical clearance requirements and what is included in this requirement?
All roads and driveways as defined above. This pertains to any and all obstructions within 13' 6" of the ground that are directly overhead of the roadway surface.
- How do I cut vegetation on hillsides when it exists to prevent erosion?
The use of any cutting or trimming method that leaves the root structure intact is highly recommended. Usually by maintaining the vegetation 2 to 3 inches above the ground.
- Can I burn vegetation?
No. Open burning for weed abatement and fire clearance is prohibited by the Air Quality Management District and the City.
- Can I pile cut vegetation on site?
No. All cut vegetation must be removed, crushed and buried, or mulched and spread. If material is mulched, it must be spread to a depth no greater than three inches (3').
- What does it mean to remove limbs within 8' of the ground?
Remove any branches that are within 8' of the ground and any ground litter under trees. It does not mean to cut trees to 8' tall.
- What if my trees are not over 8' tall do I have to trim them?
Yes, though they only are required to be trimmed from the ground up to 1/3 of the height of the tree. Example: If a tree is 12 feet tall it would only be required to be trimmed 4 feet.