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FAQ About Topanga's New Evacuation Zones

New Zone Map

LA County Updates Emergency Evacuation Zones 
Published November 19, 2022, at 9:30 a.m.


Below is an FAQ developed by the county to answer questions about the Santa Monica Mountains' new zones and Zonehaven, an interactive zone map that will allow residents to access real-time evacuation information. 


Who created the Emergency Evacuation Zones?

Los Angeles County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Fire Department, and Sheriff’s Department have worked collaboratively with cities and community members to develop emergency evacuation zones over the last several months. The final map is primarily based on direct input from first responder agencies (Fire & Law). The zones within the Santa Monica Mountains are not a stand-alone venture and are just one piece of a larger coordinated effort – they will eventually be part of a continuous emergency evacuation zone map encompassing all of Los Angeles County.

OEM contracted with a company called “Zonehaven” to host this zone map on their interactive platform. The company was not involved in deciding the zone boundaries – they were initially determined by the LA County public safety agencies and were then reviewed by city staff and community members before being shared with the public.

“Zonehaven AWARE” ( community.zonehaven.com ) is a public-facing website where residents can find out which zone they live in and view real-time information about their zone’s evacuation status during an incident. Zone status will also be mirrored on the County’s emergency website ( lacounty.gov/emergency ) along with additional incident-specific response and recovery information.


How were the zone boundaries determined?

Evacuation orders are life-and-death decisions made in the field during an emergency incident, so the zones are first and foremost designed to be an effective tool for the Fire Department and Law Enforcement to use. Therefore, the zone boundaries were determined with tactical and geographic considerations in mind, as well as major roads and ingress/egress routes. They are not based on individual neighborhoods or HOA boundaries.

During a large-scale incident that requires evacuations, the Incident Commanders (Fire & Law) will be responsible for issuing and enforcing evacuation orders/warnings. A major strong point of Zonehaven is that it helps first responders more quickly and accurately target an area for evacuations, saving valuable time and allowing the community to be notified sooner.


How were the zone identifiers determined?

Since there will eventually be many zones across the county (not just within the Santa Monica mountains); the zones need to be labeled with a unique identifier. These identifiers allow residents to “Know their Zone” and determine what protective action is being called for where they currently are, and do not necessarily need to mean anything beyond that. The zone identifiers within the Santa Monica Mountains region designate general geographic location, show whether the zone is in a city or unincorporated area, and follow a continuous number system.

For example:

TOP-U001 = Topanga Canyon – Unincorporated – 001

LEO-U015 = Leo Carrillo – Unincorporated – 015

HID-C501 = Hidden Hills – City – 501


What is the purpose of the zones? How will they be used by Public Safety Agencies?

Predesignated evacuation zones will be invaluable to public safety agencies during a rapidly expanding incident. They will enable initial attack incident commanders to quickly determine boundaries for evacuation orders/warnings, so they do not need to develop boundaries from scratch when time is of the essence. The zone map also allows for consistency in training and preparedness efforts.

The zones are designed to be functional and effective emergency evacuation zones, which have the added benefit of giving all responding public safety agencies, mutual aid resources, and cooperators a single reference point. Assisting agencies may be responding from out of the area, and this zone map will provide them with a common operating platform and a clear understanding of the geographic areas that are under evacuation orders.


How will the zones and Zonehaven AWARE benefit residents/community members?

The evacuation zones and the Zonehaven AWARE platform are being shared with the residents of Los Angeles County to allow everyone in the region access to real-time evacuation information during large-scale incidents and to bolster existing emergency alert & notification systems. This tool is meant to help the public become aware of a hazard, understand their proximity to it, and determine what protective action to take. It will also allow officials to communicate with residents more effectively during repopulation efforts after an evacuation order has been lifted.


Know Your Zone – be prepared for evacuations before they occur

Before an incident occurs:

• Visit community.zonehaven.com and type your address into the search bar (or hit the “Find My Location” button).
• A location pin will appear over the address on the map, and your zone will be highlighted. There will also be a pop-up window that contains more information about the zone.
• Write down your Zone Identifier, and place it somewhere visible ( i.e., near the front door or on the refrigerator).
• Bookmark community.zonehaven.com in your internet browser and phone for future reference.
• Sign up for ALERT LA County, as well as your city’s emergency alert system here: ready.lacounty.gov/emergency-notifications/

During a large-scale incident requiring evacuation orders or warnings:

• Public safety agencies will change the evacuation status of the affected zones in real time.
• Visit community.zonehaven.com to check your zone’s evacuation status.
• Whenever a zone status is changed, the information will be sent out via an ALERT LA County notification, and other local emergency notification systems.

The evacuation zone map and Zonehaven AWARE are tools in the evacuations & notifications toolkit – they are meant to amplify and complement the other tools in play, e.g., door-to-door notifications, road closures, social media, local/county mass notifications, wireless emergency alerts, weather alert radios, traditional media, etc. No one tool or system works perfectly for everyone, so we are developing broader and deeper capabilities to help ensure everyone is informed and aware during emergency incidents.

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