Monrovia city land a fire hazard?

MONROVIA, Calif. "I'm concerned about fire safety," said John Jogminas, a Monrovia homeowner.

Jogminas lives just one house away from the end of Highland Place in Monrovia. He has cleared the hillside behind his house to give firefighters room to work if a big blaze kicks up. However, he is concerned about the property just beyond the end of the street.

Property owners in brushy areas know that it's their responsibility to clear a certain amount of brush as mitigation for the fire hazard. However, folks in Jogminas's Monrovia neighborhood are concerned because the property owner beyond the end of Highland Place is not taking responsibility for the brush. Turns out the property owner is the city of Monrovia.

Jogminas says until a year ago, county crews routinely cleared the edges of a city-owned wilderness preserve. The city disputes that claim, but acknowledges that this year it took over responsibility. So Jogminas has repeatedly asked city officials to clear it. However, he says the city is refusing.

"They live in a secluded part of the community and with that does come the responsibility to maintain their side of the fire safety equation," said Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa.

When asked whether or not the residents are responsible for clearing the city's property, Ochoa said, "The city property is the community's property because they are part of the community."

Jogminas says he and his neighbors gladly clear brush from around their own homes. Monrovia's fire chief admits Jogminas is a model citizen in that regard. But Jogminas doesn't feel residents on Highland Place should pay extra to clear the city's land.

"Ultimately, the city of Monrovia has supreme jurisdiction because it's their land. And rightfully so. But they also have the responsibility to keep us safe," said Jogminas.

Eyewitness News told the Monrovia Fire Department that Jogminas felt the city was not in compliance. Chief Donovan said that was not a fair complaint and that he does not see the area as a fire hazard.

Donovan says as long as the residents keep their properties clear, his department, along with the help of surrounding departments, will handle whatever flares up in the canyon.


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