Strategic Plan for Westhills FireSafe Council
This document comprises a strategic plan for the Westhills FireSafe Council. It reviews its
strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities; presents a series of fundamental
statements relating to the Westhills FireSafe Council's vision, mission, values and
objectives; and sets out the Westhills FireSafe Council's proposed strategies, goals and
The Westhills FireSafe Council will be organized under the Westhills Homeowners’
Association (WHA), a 501(c)3 organization. It serves a subdivision of 176 single-family
homes in the western end of the San Fernando Valley in the unincorporated area of Los
Angeles County. According the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, it
is located in a “Very High Fire Hazard Zone” and has a single access to the neighborhood.
The Westhills FireSafe Council shares the vision of the California FireSafe Council as
Together, people and communities have eliminated the impact of catastrophic
wildfires to all they hold dear.
The Westhills FireSafe Council also shares the mission statement of the California FireSafe
Council as stated below:
Mobilizing the Westhills community to protect its homes, community and
environment from wildfires.
The organizational values governing the Westhills FireSafe Council's development will
include the following:
- The Westhills FireSafe Council is committed to processes that are both transparent
and inclusive. We welcome participation from all members of the community and
commit to provide information on the council's activities through the homeowners'
associations newsletters and web site.
- We are also committed to making use of the resources and expertise of other
organizations and individuals, recognizing that there is little to be gained by "re-
inventing the wheel".
During 2009-10 the primary objectives of Westhills FireSafe Council include:
- Establish the Westhills FireSafe Council as a viable and active resource that can be
used to improve the safety of the community.
- Encourage active participation by members of the subdivision
- Develop successful methods for fund raising to support a variety of activities.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
This strategic plan addresses the following key strengths, weaknesses, threats and
opportunities which apply to the Westhills FireSafe Council now and in the foreseeable
- High awareness of fire danger to the community
- Support from existing, successful homeowners' association (WHA)
- Use of WHA's popular quarterly newsletter and website (www.westhills91307.org)
- Community members with extensive skills of use to the Council including grant
writing, project planning and management, training, newsletter and website
development, survey research, and engineering
- Member of the Board (Howard Schultz) is a retired, 30-year veteran of the LA
County Fire Department
- Established relationship with the County Supervisor's office
- All-volunteer effort requires methods to attract and maintain community
- Limited initial budget
- Building upon experiences of other FireSafe Councils in the area
- Use of extensive materials available through the California FireSafe Council
- Building upon the acceptance/recognition for effective action from the WHA
- Inability to raise sufficient funds in the current economic environment to take on
- Challenges in attracting broad community participation in Westhills community
The following critical strategies will be pursued by Westhills Fire Safe Council:
- Make use of resources available from the California Fire Safe Council including
workshops on grant proposal development and publicity, mentoring opportunities
with other Fire Safe Councils and printed materials and other resources for
distribution in the community.
- Select initial activities that are low in cost but provide an opportunity to introduce
the community as a whole to the Fire Safe Council concept and encourage wider
participation in our efforts.
- Develop grant proposals to fund more expensive future functions of the Council.
- Use quarterly newsletter and website (www.westhills91307.org) of the homeowners’
association (WHA) to publicize activities of the Council and engage community
members in its activities.
- Introduce the Fire Safe Council concept to neighborhood members and solicit
additional members for the Council. Provide materials from California FireSafe
Council and stickers for front entrance that identify the number and type of pets to
develop interest in the concept.
- Develop community information survey that will allow Council to identify key
information of use to fire fighters in event of a fire emergency. The information
could include location of hydrants, areas where trucks can turn around, locations of
swimming pools that could be a source of water, residences where individuals have
first aid/CPR skills, etc. Compile information and make available to all members of
the community. Seek guidance from the County Fire Department on the best way to
distribute this information during a fire emergency.
- Develop plans for maintaining currency of the information.
- Begin development of a notification/buddy system for the neighborhood.
- Begin development of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the
neighborhood. The CERT program is a FEMA-sponsored, free training to educate
people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and train
them in basic disaster response skills. One member of the Board is already attending
a CERT class; two additional Board members are planning to attend programs
starting in February.
- Develop grant proposal designed to support one or more of the following activities:
- Survey neighborhood to identify opportunities to make homeowner
landscaping more fire safe and provide financial support for individual
homeowners to convert landscaping that is not fire-safe.
- Work with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District to improve water
pressure in the area
- Remove fire hazards in the neighborhood (e.g., eucalyptus trees in Knapp
Family park, pine trees on property that could potentially block single exit
- Add fire break wall to yards adjoining El Scorpion Park
- Hold neighborhood functions to raise money to donate to the Santa Monica
Mountains Conservancy to support their purchase of open land adjoining the
neighborhood. This land would join three parks in the area: Knapp Ranch Park and
El Scorpion Park (both LA City parks) and the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space
Preserve. Making the land part of the park environment would help to improve
brush clearance and maintenance of the property.
Tentative First-Year (2009) Time Line
- Complete and submit application to California Fire Safe Council
- At least one member of board attend CERT training and Grants Workshop for
California FireSafe Council
- Write article for newsletter and develop page for website
- Establish permanent monthly meetings
- Develop neighborhood survey instrument and design survey process
- Update website
- Complete survey
- Compile and distribute results
- Update website
- Plan fund-raising activities
- Update website
- Hold fund-raising function
- Update website
- Develop notification system for neighborhood
- Update website
- Develop goals and strategies for 2010
- Plan fund-raising efforts for 2010 activities
- Update neighborhood information
- Finalize plans for 2010
- Attend FireSafe Council Grants Clearinghouse Workshop for 2010 grants
- Begin development of grant for submission in 2010.
- Conduct fund-raising activities as designed
The Westhills Homeowners Association (WHA) has provided $300 as start-up money for
the organization. We will also seek funds or in-kind contributions from real estate
companies in the area. The funds will be used to produce the survey instrument and
information to be distributed to the neighborhood and to support (in part) the fund-raising
activities in May/June. All other activities will be supported by volunteer efforts.
If grant money becomes available during the year, other activities as noted above will be