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Flame and Fortune in the American WestUrban Development, Environmental Change, and the Great Oakland Hills Fire$
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Gregory L. Simon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292802

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292802.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 08 December 2021

Setting the Stage for Disaster

Setting the Stage for Disaster

Revenue Maximization, Wealth Protection, and its Discontents

(p.71) 4 Setting the Stage for Disaster
Flame and Fortune in the American West

Gregory L. Simon

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on government retrenchment, conservative homeowner politics, and state tax restructuring spanning the 1950s to 1980s. It highlights the scalar dimensions of vulnerability-in-production. In the face of a postwar suburban growth politics—culminating in the overthrow of conventional structures of taxation—metropolitan core areas like Oakland experienced tax reduced revenue growth rates, as well as depleted operating budgets within tax-dependent city fire services leading to reduced fire department budgets up to and during the Tunnel Fire. In order to generate new sources of tax revenue, city officials pursued large housing developments within high fire risk areas. The gradual increase in exposure to wildfires in the Tunnel Fire area is thus deeply intertwined within California's broader tax-revolt political movement. The chapter challenges spatially and temporally truncated explanations of fire vulnerability that fail to grapple with complex socioeconomic factors undergirding the placement of homes in areas that are already susceptible to wildfire. It ends by illustrating how factors generating vulnerability and affluence in the Tunnel Fire area also contribute to the production of vulnerabilities throughout the rest of Oakland.

Keywords:   affluence-vulnerability interface, Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire, taxation, tax revenues, housing developments, high fire risk areas, urban wildfires

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