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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Developers, Councils Share Blame in Fires

October 29, 2003

I applaud the courage of Steve Lopez ("No Way Out When Home Is in Firebelt," Oct. 28), who is not afraid to make the politically incorrect observation that many of the homes destroyed in these fires were in predictably unsafe areas. I have to wonder what it takes for a developer to get permission from a city council to build these huge projects (such as the one that ruined our beautiful foothills in Chatsworth/Porter Ranch) when we have water and power shortages, impacted freeways and increasing smog as the debt left to pay by citizens.

Though the homeowners are guilty of nothing more than wanting to live in a nice home, the developers are a different story. Honestly? The politically incorrect part of me is looking up to our desecrated mountains and saying "burn, baby, burn."

Chris Cutter

Chatsworth

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The catastrophic fires are a terrible tragedy for both people and nature. In addition to the devastating loss of life and belongings, the taxpayer pays an enormous cost for fighting fires and subsidizing fire insurance.

These disastrous impacts are due to patterns of human settlement that maximize risk. There are thousands of indefensible "estate lots" in brush areas, and "leapfrog" development into fire-hazard zones is commonplace. Let us hope that elected officials will remember these days and bring sanity to the planning process by taking new development out of harm's way.

Dan Silver

Exec. Dir., Endangered Habitats League, L.A.

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