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
action programs.

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
stated below:

    Together, people and communities have eliminated the impact of catastrophic
    wildfires to all they hold dear.  

Mission Statement

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.

Organizational Values

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 (
  • 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
    significant projects
  • Challenges in attracting broad community participation in Westhills community


Key Strategies

The following critical strategies will be pursued by Westhills Fire Safe Council:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Develop grant proposals to fund more expensive future functions of the Council.
  4. Use quarterly newsletter and website ( of the homeowners’
    association (WHA) to publicize activities of the Council and engage community
    members in its activities.  

First-Year Goals

  • 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
    from neighborhood)

  • 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


First-Year Budget

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

Westhills FireSafe Council Strategic Plan