Photo credit: Julia Sumangil Photography
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a written agreement among governmental agencies that expresses their aligned will. An MOU also details the intent to take action together. An MOU can be bilateral (between two parties) or multilateral (between more than two parties). In this case, the MOU could be signed by both counties (Alameda and Contra Costa), all cities and towns, and all fire districts with jurisdiction in the East Bay Hills.
An MOU provides the legal basis for the jurisdictions to work together to accomplish agreed upon goals, in this case efforts to limit or prevent damage from future wildfires. Counties and Cities are authorized to make such contracts under Government Code section 23004(c), Government Code section 40602(b), or through municipal charters or codes.
The participating jurisdictions will ultimately decide the MOU’s structure, scope of work, and funding strategy.
The MOU is proposed to include jurisdictions in western portions of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties containing hill areas designated as High or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
Expand the headings below to see maps of fire hazard severity zones in each county, as well as lists of potential member jurisdictions and partners.
Click image to go to view full-size PDF.
Due to the multiple jurisdictions involved, CAL FIRE does not produce a single map showing fire severity zones in all parts of the proposed JPA area. This is just one of the reasons an East Bay Wildfire JPA is needed.
CAL FIRE last updated its Fire Hazard Severity Zone maps through a process that lasted from 2007 to 2010. That work resulted in three datasets:
The map above is for illustrative purposes and represents a composite of these three datasets, for both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Adopted and Recommended designations are shown in solid colors, while the Draft designations are shown in hatched colors.
CAL FIRE is currently updating its data again. If new maps showing revised Fire Hazard Severity Zones become available, they will be posted here.
For more information about the CAL FIRE designations and the data shown here, visit: https://osfm.fire.ca.gov/divisions/wildfire-planning-engineering/wildland-hazards-building-codes/fire-hazard-severity-zones-maps/
Although wildfire hazards exist in much of the undeveloped and Wildland Urban Interface areas of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, our efforts to create a JPA are currently focused on the “inner East Bay,” along the Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, and West Contra Costa Hills, and extending southward to the westernmost portions of the Diablo Range. Relevant jurisdictions and agencies extend from Hercules in the north to Fremont in the south, and include:
Forming the East Bay Wildfire Prevention and Vegetation Management JPA is a grassroots effort of a coalition of community organizations working with county staff and elected officials. Steering committee members are listed below.
East Bay Wildfire Prevention and Vegetation Management Coordination endorsements.
Last Updated: November 1, 2021
The Community Organizing Committee began its work to facilitate the coordination of wildfire prevention efforts in the East Bay Hills in 2019. Initially, the group secured endorsements for a potential Joint Powers Agency (JPA) and made preliminary presentations to elected bodies and commissions to obtain support for a joint resolution that will allow local jurisdictions to explore formation of the JPA. From December 2021 through June 2022, more than 20 jurisdictions and agencies participated in several workshops for jurisdiction and agency representatives to consider a governing structure, goals, funding strategies, and implementation approach.
These workshops resulted in the nomination of a smaller working group composed of both fire professionals and elected officials from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and the Cities of Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, and Pinole, and the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District. In the summer of 2022, the working group made the recommendation to pursue the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in lieu of forming a new JPA. The Hanson Bridgett law firm was contracted in Fall 2022 to draft the MOU. The document was reviewed and revised by the Working Group and their legal counsel. In June 2023, the Working Group agreed on the final language of the proposed MOU.
The Proposed MOU is now public and will be presented to representatives from all interested jurisdictions and agencies in the East Bay Hills in Summer 2023, and then to governing boards for execution.