The city of Los Angeles, including the Valley area communities, is growing at an alarming rate. With more than 16,000 new units of housing last year, Los Angeles led the Golden State in new residential construction. As more and more buildings go up and as our city continues to grow at a record pace, safety must remain at the forefront.

Why? Just look at the recent Woolsey fire, which destroyed sections of the Valley area, and the continuous toll of the overall wildfire problem across the region. A major earthquake is a question of when, not if, as was seen in the recent Ridgecrest earthquakes. Preventive measures in construction and stricter building codes are a long-term investment in the city and more important, the safety and well-being of its residents.

A recent measure introduced by San Fernando Valley Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Monica Rodriguez, titled “Building a Safer Los Angeles,” is a critical first step in the right direction to protecting the homes of residents across the Valley area.

“Building a Safer Los Angeles” directly addresses a major construction flaw that exacerbates the growing fire problem in the county: combustible materials. This measure is relevant to communities across Los Angeles and is particularly important in the respective districts of the sponsoring councilmembers, including Pacoima, Sylmar, Tuna Canyon, Woodland Hills, Tarzana and Canoga Park, among other neighborhoods, where temperatures soar and the Santa Ana winds blow strong. 

It was only last November that the Woolsey fires engulfed over 70,000 acres and destroyed at least 400 homes, many across Valley-area districts, and into Malibu and areas such as Thousand Oaks, West Hills, Bell Canyon and Oak Park. But California’s growing wildfire problem isn’t the only safety consideration. When buildings, particularly the low-rise residential complexes that are so common in Los Angeles, rely on combustible materials, residents are put directly in harm’s way.

Just a few years ago, arson at the DaVinci apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles set the building ablaze and caused more than $3 million in property damage. And after a major earthquake, it’s fire that can cause most of the damage. 

Alternatives to combustible materials bolster the safety and longevity of their structures. Concrete and steel structures, for example, are a safer, stronger, affordable and more environmentally friendly approach, and the buildings are designed to last for centuries. Outdated and unsafe combustible structures are no match to the durability and resistance to the elements that concrete brings.