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Defensible Space

Defensible space is the buffer created around one's home to reduce the intensity of an approaching wildfire, eliminate combustible materials and vegetation that might ignite and spread to your home, and to create a safer space to aid in your evacuation and allow firefighters to defend your home. Defensible Space is required by law in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas of Town of Corte Madera and City of Larkspur (and all other cities and towns in Marin).

Your home may be the most valuable investment you ever make. If you live in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), protect against the chance of losing that investment by creating defensible space and "hardening" your home with fire-resistant construction materials and design.  In Marin, all residents of the WUI are required by law to maintain defensible space around their homes at all times.

Creating defensible space does not mean you need a ring of bare dirt around your home! Through proper planning, you can have both a beautiful landscape, with lush, green vegetation,  and a fire safe home. 

Learn more about creating Defensible Space at FIRESafe MARIN.


Dear Property Owner, 

The Central Marin Fire Department provides a thorough and comprehensive vegetation management and inspection program in order to protect lives and property for those who live and enjoy the hillside communities within Larkspur, Corte Madera, and Greenbrae.  The California Fire Code Chapter 49 Sections 4901.1 to 4907.4 as amended and adopted by the City of Larkspur and the Town of Corte Madera, and the California Public Resource Code Section 4291 provides the Fire Department the authority to require property owners to maintain proper defensible space around their home.

Each year in April, property owners and/or tenants mush begin work to create and maintain the required 100-150 feet of defensible space around their homes, and within 10 feet of all roadways and driveways by removing dead and/or hazardous vegetation. Undeveloped parcels are be required to maintain 30-100 feet of defensible space along neighboring property lines of properties that have been developed by removing dead and/or hazardous vegetation.

Fire inspectors will begin canvasing the community beginning in late April to verify that your property is in compliance. Properties that are found NOT to be in compliance will receive a “Wildfire Hazard Warning Notice” requiring you to abate the hazard within 30 days. Properties found to be noncompliant after 30 days will be deemed a fire hazard and/or nuisance and may be referred to the Town of Corte Madera or the City of Larkspur for abatement.

Any cost associated with abatement may be billed to the property owner. Unpaid abatement costs may be placed as a special assessment or lien against the property.

Ruben Martin
Fire Chief, Central Marin Fire Department



  • Maintain all roofs, gutters, and decks clear of leaves, needles, and dead vegetation.
  • Remove tree branches/limbs that are within 10 feet of a chimney outlet.
  • Remove all tree branches and limbs that overhang within 6 feet (vertically) of a roofline or deck.
  • Remove all vegetation from underneath decks.
  • Remove all combustible storage from underneath decks.
  • Firewood should be relocated to at least 30 feet away from the home or placed in a fire-resistant enclosure.

From the home out 100 to 150 feet or to the property line

  • Cut all dead grasses to below 3 inches in height.
  • Remove all dead vegetation and brush piles on the ground.
  • Remove all dead branches, leaves and foliage from all trees, bushes and ground cover.
  • Remove low hanging tree branches/limbs that are less than 4 inches in diameter a minimum of 10 feet from the ground on mature trees over 30 feet in height, or 1/3 the height from the ground on trees less than 30 feet in height.
  • Remove all fire prone plants located within 30 feet of the home.

Roadway and Driveways

  • Remove all fire prone vegetation within 10 feet of all roadways and driveways horizontally.
  • Maintain a minimum of 15 feet of vertical clearance over roadways and driveways.
  • The following fire prone plant species have been identified as very flammable and/or hazardous. Property owners should remove these plants if they are located within 10 feet of a roadway or driveway, and/or within 30 feet of any structure.
    1. Juniper
    2. Bamboo
    3. Italian Cypress
    4. Acacia
    5. Pampas Grass