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Several months ago, during the Rye Fire, an evacuation order was given for the Westridge neighborhood in the West Ranch community. The fire had burned into the Santa Clara riverbed and was looking likely to continue south towards Westridge and its’ schools. Fortunately for our community, the winds shifted and the fire turned west, moving down the riverbed towards Ventura County sparing loss of life or property.

The L.A. County Fire Department made the call to evacuate Westridge and did not make that decision lightly. They made the right choice with the data they had on hand at that moment. It was a case of ‘better safe, then sorry’ and it was the right call to make given the circumstances. But the evacuation order resulted in a chaotic traffic jam of cars trying to exit the community through one road and this highlighted a problem; there was no orderly evacuation plan in place.

The West Ranch Town Council raised the question, could there be an overall evacuation plan for the greater West Ranch communities? Currently, only the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood had an evacuation plan, which was recently updated and distributed to homeowners within the that master association, and that is not as robust as it could be. So, is it possible to put a plan in place to address the needs of the entire West Ranch community for an efficient and safe evacuation? Many believe so.

That is the question that the West Ranch Town Council will be discussing at the Wednesday, March 7, 2018, meeting at 6:30 PM at the Stevenson Ranch Public Library. There will be representatives from the Los Angeles County, the Sheriff’s Department, L.A. County Fire Department, and the California Highway Patrol to participate in a discussion for working up a comprehensive plan. This kickoff discussion will look at critical aspects of an orderly evacuation including moving traffic efficiently through the current limited roadway exits out of the various neighborhoods that make up West Ranch. The meeting is open to all and participation by residents is encouraged.

I do want to see an efficient plan in place that will allow for a well-ordered evacuation of the community should it be needed during the next fire, earthquake or zombie apocalypse. A plan that lets residents exit the community without the chaotic traffic jam that occurred during the Rye Canyon Fire. If the community and local officials can work together, we can be well prepared for the inevitable next disaster. Save yourself, your family and your valuables by attending this important meeting—it could be a matter of life or death.  

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.