OCEANSIDE, Calif. — An Oceanside man is trying to take action about overgrown brush and weeds on a Caltrans-managed property adjacent to his — a wildfire risk that he says caused his home insurance provider to hike his rate.
Walt Bratten says has been trying to reach the right officials for weeks on this issue, but have had little success. That’s because the land is in an interesting location: It is right on the border between Oceanside and Vista near SR-76, but it’s owned by the state and managed by Caltrans.
“I just decided to do something about it because I’m paying about 20% more for my insurance now than I was paying for just because of this,” he said.
Bratten explained he received a letter from his insurance company in July saying he would be dropped from home and fire coverage due to his home “being located within 500 feet of brush.”
After that, he says he spent about a month trying to reach someone with Caltrans.
“I must’ve called them 10 or 12 times and left messages,” he recalled.
In a statement sent to FOX 5, Caltrans said safety is a top priority. It further explains:
“Caltrans has a fire prevention strategy for the Jeffries Ranch conservation area (that is adjacent to Del Mar Avenue in Oceanside), which was approved in coordination with the local fire marshal. This plan preserves as much of the native vegetation as possible, including vegetation thinning to remove non-native, weedy species. Native plants on the city of Oceanside’s ‘Suggested Plant List for a Defensible Space’ are selectively avoided during vegetation thinning to encourage the dominance of less flammable vegetation within these thinned areas. The Jefferies Ranch area is part of the SR-76 Highway Improvement Project.’
Caltrans was not able to provide a timeline for any pending work in the area, only telling FOX 5 the maintenance is done on a “case by case basis.”
“Before Caltrans bought the property, the previous owner, who was a developer, regularly came in and cut down the weeds and the brush,” said Bratten.
He is adamant no work has been done for some time and his concern extends beyond just a hike in insurance rates — it poses a serious wildfire danger.
“We did have a fire there just about two years ago just over our back wall,” he said. “We are talking about something that could happen tomorrow with the weather we have so they can’t put it off until next year.”