Weed Abatement FAQs

1) What are the Fire Departments’ guidelines for property clearance? 

  • Cut or mow grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches 
  • Remove all dead or dying vegetation 
  • Remove leaves, pine needles from yard, roof and rain gutters 
  • Remove combustible material under and around decks and patios 
  • Remove or prune vegetation around windows 
  • Remove low-level vegetation which can potentially cause fire spread 
  • Create a separation between low-level vegetation and tree branches 
  • Trim tree or thin tree canopies regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees or spaced three times the size of tree 
  • Tree Branches, Limbs, and Palm Fronds, are required to have vertical clearance from the ground, so that they are greater than 6 feet from the ground or 1/3 of the tree’s height, whichever is less. 
  • Trim trees back 10 feet from chimney 
  • Roadway clearance must be a minimum of 10 feet 

2) Who is responsible for trimming trees around SCE power lines? 

  • Southern California Edison reminds us that property owners are responsible for trimming trees on their property and should maintain trimming to avoid being close to power lines. Southern California Edison patrols all power lines to ensure proper and required clearance. In regards to “Primary Lines”, should a tree grow too close to power lines, a crew will be assigned to bring tree into compliance but this is only a “utility trim” and they will not trim the entire tree. 
  • This becomes a little confusing when it applies to “Secondary Lines” that provide the service drops to a customer’s house. In this case the property owner is responsible for keeping the lines that go to their house clear of all trees. It is always Edison’s opinion that the property owner should hire a qualified tree trimmer that is familiar with working around power lines. 
  • Should there be a question regarding a specific property, Southern California Edison will send someone out to evaluate the situation and determine exactly who is ultimately responsible for the trimming. 
  • If resident is unsure of who is responsible, best practice would be to have them contact Southern California Edison’s Call Center at (800) 655-4555. The Call Center will create a ticket and assign it to the person responsible for the location in question. 

3) When is the best time to clear brush and vegetation? 

  • Trimming, mowing and power equipment use before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., especially in dry and low humidity. 
  • Never use a lawn mower in dry vegetation 
  • Use a weed trimmer to cut down dry weeds and grass 
  • Keep a cell phone nearby and call 9-1-1 immediately in case of fire.

To download this as a PDF, click here: https://www.montebellofiredept.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/MFD-Weed-Abatement-FAQ.pdf