As the Bobcat Fire consumes more than 114,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest, real estate data firm CoreLogic has named Los Angeles as the metropolitan area with the highest number of single-family homes at wildfire risk in the country.
According to the 2020 Wildfire Risk Report, 154,462 single-family residences (SFR) are threatened by damage or destruction, representing $90.31 billion in potential losses. When it comes to multi-family residences, Los Angeles ranks second in the nation with 1,028 complexes exposed to wildfire danger, amounting to $770 million.
In the SFR risk category, Los Angeles was trailed closely by Riverside, where 126,628 homes ($50.62 billion) are vulnerable to wildfires. San Diego took third place with 98,970 jeopardized residences ($47.45), followed by state capital Sacramento with 73,863 residences ($30.55 billion).
“California is home to 76% of these residences on the top 10 list—but the reconstruction cost value of these homes comprise nearly 84% of the list,” reads the report.
The affordable housing crisis has exacerbated the state’s wildfire situation as families are pushed past the suburbs and into the wildland-urban interface (WUI), where residential development encroaches on flammable vegetation. Sonoma County, for example, is frequently marketed as an affordable alternative to pricey Bay Area markets but has been devastated by wildfires year after year.
Increasing density in California’s lower-risk urban areas has been floated as a solution to the growing fire danger, however, little progress has been made by lawmakers. A proposal to eliminate single-family zoning statewide failed to pass the California legislature earlier this month as there was not enough time for the amended bill to be voted on by the Senate.
The CoreLogic report concludes with a warning that “wildfire will continue to threaten homeownership and endanger people’s physical and financial livelihoods.” Its authors urge communities to mitigate fire risks and work alongside insurers to guarantee adequate coverage.