CSAC Bulletin Article

AENR Bills of Interest

June 20, 2019

Wildfire Bills

CSAC has been actively monitoring and taking positions on dozens of pieces of wildfire and public safety related legislation. Many of these bills failed to pass out of their house of origin at the deadline, however many bills are still moving that could have a significant impact on outcome in future disasters.

Bills that are still moving include efforts to improve vegetation management and defensible space, specify planning procedures for land use and wildfire mitigation, provide CEQA exemptions for egress routes, improve emergency notification procedures, and create grants to help counties complete watershed improvements in areas damaged by wildfire.

CSAC will continue to monitor and engage on these bills as they move through the second legislative house. If you have any questions about these bills please feel free to contact AENR Legislative Analyst Nick Cronenwett at ncronenwett@counties.org.

SB 167 (Dodd): This bill would require Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) to consider how Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) would impact customers receiving medical baseline allowances in their wildfire mitigation plans. In addition, this bill would authorize electrical corporations to deploy backup electrical resources or provide additional financial assistance for backup electrical resources to customers receiving a medical baseline allowance. CSAC supports this bill and efforts to plan for how wildfire mitigation efforts may impact medically vulnerable populations.

SB 182 (Jackson):  This bill would require local governments to do extensive planning to identify fire risks to their communities, consistent with best practices identified by the state, and would prohibit local agencies from approving developments that aren’t adequately protected from the fire hazards. CSAC appreciates Senator Jackson’s approach in this bill that would allow counties to use systems that are already in place to incorporate better information and smarter questions in the local planning process. CSAC will continue to work with the author’s staff on this measure.

SB 190 (Dodd): This bill would require the creation of a model defensible space program and would help provide important Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) safety information to building officials and the general public. CSAC has a support position on this bill because would provide for the collaborative creation of a model defensible space ordinance that local governments could adopt to help meet requirements under Government Code 51182 and Public Resources Code 4291.

SB 209 (Dodd): This bill would establish the California Wildfire Warning Center to help monitor weather and fire conditions statewide to improve outcomes during California’s increasingly devastating year round fire season. CSAC has a support position on SB 209 because it could help develop a comprehensive statewide network of automated cameras and bring together fire experts to help prevent tragic losses during wildfires. This bill would help fill out California’s current patchwork of systems and provide coverage in areas that are not currently covered by an existing weather and wildfire threat monitoring systems.

SB 226 (Nielsen): This bill would create a watershed restoration grant program for fire impacted counties. Devastating fires have ravaged our natural and anthropological ecosystems, including California’s vital watersheds. These fires have burned so unnaturally hot, that they are likely to leave permanent damage to California’s fragile forests if unaddressed. CSAC supports SB 226 because it would help provide valuable resources to counties to address damaged watersheds across California.

SB 247 (Dodd): This bill would require IOUs to comply with vegetation management requirements within their wildfire mitigation plans. In addition, the bill requires Cal FIRE to verify vegetation management work completed by IOUs to verify compliance with their submitted wildfire mitigation plans.

SB 670 (McGuire): This bill would require telecommunications services providers to give notification to the California Office of Emergency Services (CAL OES) if its telecommunications systems become unable to connect customers to 911 or deliver emergency notices within 60 minutes of the telecommunications service provider discovering the outage. This bill also requires the Cal OES to provide notice of that outage to the county office of emergency service and the local county sheriff in the county where the outage has occurred. 911 notification systems are incredibly valuable and this bill improves communication procedures during a disaster. CSAC supports this bill and other similar efforts to improve emergency notification systems before and after disaster strikes. This bill passed out of Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee by a vote of 11 to zero on June 19 and was re-referred to Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.

AB 394 (Obernolte): This bill would provide a CEQA exemption for egress route projects undertaken by a public agency that were specifically recommended by CAL FIRE to improve the safety of a subdivision in high or very high fire threat zones. CSAC supports a limited exemption for public agencies to develop and improve egress routes in areas that are threatened by wildfire to help improve outcomes in future disasters.

AB 1516 (Friedman): This bill would improve defensible space and electrical transmission line vegetation clearance requirements in fire threat areas, and would help Cal Fire provide technical assistance to counties in order to protect against future devastating wildfires. CSAC has a support position on AB 1516 because it improves existing programs and law that provide tools to help local communities deal with fire risk.


CSAC Requesting Comments: Updated SB 1383 Regulations. Deadline: Monday, June 24

On June 19, CalRecycle initiated a 15-day public comment period regarding recently released changes to it proposed SB 1383 Organic Waste Reduction Regulations. A draft text that includes proposed changes in the regulations can be found here and a short summary of the proposed changes can be found here.

CSAC has been actively engaged with CalRecycle on the development of these regulations throughout the process and will submit a comment letter prior to the close of the 15-day public comment timeframe by the July 3rd deadline. If you would like your county comments included in CSAC’s letter, please send any feedback on the regulations to Nick Cronenwett at ncronenwett@counties.org by COB June 24th. CSAC also encourages individual counties to send comments directly to CalRecycle with a CC to ncronenwett@counties.org. For more information on submitting comments to CalRecycle directly please visit their rulemaking website here.


AENR Bills up this Week

There are several AENR bills that CSAC has taken an active position which were heard and passed in committee this week. These bills include:

SB 19 (Dodd): This bill would require the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to collaborate with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Conservation, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and others to develop a plan to deploy a network of stream gages in California’s streams in order to provide better data about California’s vital ecosystems. CSAC supports SB 19 and the bill passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee by a vote of 13 to 0 on June 18th and now heads to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 185 (McGuire): This bill would require the creation of an organic certification program for cannabis and manufactured cannabis products. In addition, the bill would also require the Department of Food and Agriculture to develop standards for a cultivator to designate a country of origin for its cannabis products. CSAC has a support position on this bill. The bill passed out of Assembly Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee by a vote of 18 to 0 on June 18th and now heads to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

SB 205 (Hertzberg): CSAC has a concerns position on this bill and has been working with the author’s office on amendments. The bill in its current form would require counties to confirm a business’ enrollment in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) program prior to the issuance or renewal of a local business license.

SB 657 (McGuire): The bill would allow County Agricultural Commissioners to include county cannabis crop information in reports to California Department of Food and Agriculture. Specifically, this bill would allow County Agricultural Commissioners to voluntarily submit information regarding state cultivator license type, local license type, price tier, production methods, and other pieces of important information in their annual reports. CSAC supports this bill because it creates a voluntary process and would allow each Agricultural Commissioner to decide on their own whether or not to submit cannabis crop information. The voluntarily information provided by County Agricultural Commissioners will help generate more data to help California encourage a well-regulated and vibrant cannabis economy. The bill passed out of Assembly Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on June 18th by a vote of 16-0 the bill now heads to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.


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