Affordable Housing Projects Risk Wildfire Injuries in Santee, Ca
California, like many states throughout the nation, is currently struggling with an affordable housing crisis. Even the cheapest homes on the market are out of reach for many residents both young and old. Many people have been forced to live on the street in places like San Francisco. Amidst calls for change, governments have begun to initiate affordable housing programs. But concerned groups have pointed out that many of these affordable housing projects are being built in areas with high levels of wildfire risk. In fact, some groups have even sued these government agencies for attempting to build homes in these high-risk areas. But what are the details of these lawsuits, and how can you take legal action if you have been injured by wildfires in California?
City of Santee Sued Over Housing Project in Wildfire Zone
On October 17th, the Center for Biological Diversity reported that various organizations had sued the city of Santee over their plans to build a housing project in the middle of a wildfire zone. This is not the first time the city of Santee has been sued in connection with these plans; it is just the latest development in a protracted legal battle. An attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity stated:
“California’s affordable housing crisis doesn’t give cities free rein to build unsafe homes in places like Fanita Ranch. To prepare for the next disaster, we have to be smarter about where we build, with safety plans that account for the realities of fast-moving fires. Otherwise, we’ll put entire communities in grave danger.”
In past legal battles, courts have ruled against the city of Santee and its “Fanita Ranch” project. The main issue is that the city has failed to detail how exactly they would protect residents against wildfires, given the high probability of these disasters occurring in the area. The total number of affected residents would be over 10,000, and they would be living in an area that has burned a staggering 65 times within the past century. Perhaps the most notable wildfire in recent memory occurred in 2003 when 95% of the area was destroyed by the Cedar Fire.
One of the key incentives for the Center for Biological Diversity to oppose this development is the potential destruction of endangered species, such as the Crotch’s bumblebee. But make no mistake – human beings would also be exposed to serious levels of danger in this area, possibly leading to serious injuries and deaths. This is a common theme not only in California but also throughout the entire nation. Extreme weather events are seemingly affecting more people than ever before.
But when you look closely, it is clear that people should have never been allowed to live in the areas that are most affected by things like wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. It is the pursuit of profit that drives developers to start housing projects in areas that were considered unfit for human habitation just a few years ago. State and municipal governments are learning that if they turn a blind eye and allow these profit-driven endeavors to continue, they expose themselves to potential lawsuits in the future.
Because when hundreds or thousands of people are killed by wildfires, family members start searching for answers. Their searches will inevitably lead them to the government agencies that allowed these developments to take place despite the clear and obvious risks to human safety.
Suing for Wildfire Injuries
In the summer of 2022, it was reported that California’s wildfire season had been much less deadly than in previous years. However, the shocking incidents of past years are still fresh in people’s minds. It was only four years ago that the Camp Fire burned over 150,000 acres in Butte County, killing 85 people. In 2017, the Tubbs Fire killed 22 people in Napa and Sonoma Counties. In 2020, the North Complex Fire claimed 15 lives in Butte, Plumas, and Yuba Counties. Many others were injured, and numerous homeowners lost their properties due to these extreme weather events. It goes without saying that building new housing projects that are directly in the line of fire is highly irresponsible.
If you were injured by a wildfire, it may be possible to file a lawsuit and recover compensation. For the most part, those affected by wildfires tend to file insurance claims rather than personal injury lawsuits. But both economic and physical injuries can form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit. In order to sue a negligent party for wildfire injuries, you would need to show that they were aware of the danger and exposed you to wildfires regardless. While this can be difficult to prove, a prime example would be the Fanita Ranch project – if it ever went ahead.
If residents lose their lives or become injured while staying in these homes, they could potentially sue the city of Santee and the developers for exposing them to dangerous living conditions while being fully aware of the risk. It may be particularly easy to sue in this situation because of the clear and documented pattern of wildfires sweeping through this specific area and doing considerable harm. After all, it was only a few years ago that the area was almost completely burned to the ground by a wildfire.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have suffered injuries due to risky government housing programs, you should have the opportunity to pursue justice and compensation. If property developers were aware of notable risks and chose to build in dangerous areas anyway, this could form the basis for lawsuits. Property owners and contractors have a legal responsibility to build housing projects in areas that are as safe as possible. Fire injuries can be traumatic, disfiguring, and life-changing. In some cases, these wildfires can even end lives. If you would like to explore your legal options for a personal injury lawsuit, get in touch with Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. today. As some of the most experienced wildfire attorneys in California, we will guide you forward with efficiency and confidence.