CSAC Bulletin Article

Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Bill Roundup

September 3, 2020

The second year of the two year Legislative Session wrapped up on September 1st, CSAC AENR supported several measures that made it to the Governor’s Desk and a few measures that did not survive session, but are likely to return next year. In addition, CSAC AENR strongly supported several measures to improve resiliency and emergency response in California. If you have any questions about this legislation, please feel free to the email either Catherine Freeman at cfreeman@counties.org or Nick Cronenwett at ncronenwett@counties.org of the CSAC AENR team.

Resiliency Measures
CSAC successfully supported several measures in the area of wildfire and disaster resiliency that made it to the Governor’s Desk. These included improvements to defensible space, the development of a public risk model, emergency notification improvements, and improvements to the land use planning process. SB 182 (Jackson) was a two year bill to improve resiliency planning and development that was supported jointly by RCRC and CSAC.

AB 3074 (Friedman): Fire Prevention: wildfire risk: defensible space: ember-resistant zones.

This bill would improve resistance against ember ignitions for structures in locally designated Very High Fire Severity Zones. Specially, this bill would require the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to promulgate regulations and guidance, in consultation with Cal Fire, for the zero to five foot range around structures in high fire threat areas and would require local agencies to provide notification to residents that could be impacted by these improved defensible space requirements. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor. 

3164 (Friedman): Fire Prevention: wildland-urban interface wildfire risk model: model use guidelines.

This bill would require Cal Fire to create a public wildfire risk model using information from the State Responsibility Areas (SRA) and Local Responsibility Areas (LRA). The bill also creates an advisory committee, which would include representatives from local government, to help develop this public model. Finally, the bill includes sunset provisions for 2025. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor. 

SB 909 (Dodd): Emergency Vehicles Evacuation Siren Notification.

This bill would allow local governments to equip emergency vehicles with “Hi-Lo” frequency warning alarms to notify residents of mandatory evacuations in the event of an emergency. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor. 

SB 182 (Jackson): Local Government: planning and zoning: wildfires.

The bill would require new developments in very high fire severity zones to meet specific wildfire resiliency risk reduction standards and planning requirements. This bill utilizes existing planning policies to improve the local land use process in a way that can decrease fire risk to our communities. Specifically, SB 182 prohibits local governments from approving development agreements, permits, or maps for housing developments unless the project is in compliance with the wildfire risk reduction standards as outlined in the bill. The bill provides for the development of non-competitive grant program for smaller jurisdictions to help meet these planning requirements. Additionally, in order to reduce development pressures in the Very High Fire Risk Area (VHFRA) through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process, SB 182 requires a lower proportion of state housing allocation to jurisdictions that meet specified conditions. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor.    

In addition to these resiliency measures, CSAC AENR also supported additional legislation related to small drinking water systems and disposable wipes.

AB 2296 (Quirk): Local Primacy Delegation: funding stabilization program.

This bill would help improve the condition of California’s small drinking water systems by providing more state resources to help local government run Local Primacy Agencies (LPAs) that are tasked with oversight, administration and enforcement duties by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Specifically, this bill would allow for LPAs, which are run by county health officials, to participate in a funding stabilization program, administered by the SWRCB, to help with LPA program administration costs. CSAC had a support position on a similar bill during the first year of the two year legislative session. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor. 

AB 1672 (Bloom):  Premoistened Nonwoven Disposable Wipes.

This bill would have established labeling requirements for wet wipes so that Californians will know whether that product can be discarded safely through their private residential plumbing and municipal sewer systems. CSAC supported this effort throughout session to alleviate the issue of wet wipes clogging local sewer and wastewater systems. The measure was held in Senate Appropriations. 

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