CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Tracking Important Wildfire Legislation through End of Session

August 15, 2019

The Legislature returned from Summer Recess on Monday. With a month left in the Legislative session, it is a sprint to the finish to get bills to the Governor’s desk. CSAC has been actively following hundreds of bills throughout the Session, and has been keeping a particularly close watch on bills related to wildfires and disasters. Many of these bills touch on topics related to CSAC’s priority of creating a more resilient California, including vegetation management, land use planning and defensible space issues; Wildfire Mitigation Plans, improved alert and warning systems; and, potential improvements to Public Safety Power Shutdown procedures. CSAC will continue to engage on these bills throughout the end of session.

SB 182 (Jackson): This bill would improve the local planning process and incorporates actionable data that can decrease fire risk to our communities. The bill would, among other things, impose new planning requirements on local governments and require cities and counties to make specified findings on fire standards prior to permitting development in very high risk fire areas. CSAC appreciates the balanced approach this bill takes towards reducing future fire threats – a significant issue facing residents and communities across California – and maintaining local land use authority. CSAC has a support position on SB 182 (Jackson).

SB 190 (Dodd): This bill would update building standards, develop a list of low cost retrofits, require the creation of a model defensible space program for local governments and would help provide important Wildland-Urban Interface safety information to building officials and the general public. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

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 are unable to deliver emergency notices within 60 minutes of discovering the outage. It also requires CAL OES to adopt emergency regulations that would both define the appropriate thresholds when determining if an outage constitutes a “community isolation outage” thereby informing when telecommunications providers must provide notice to CAL OES of an outage. In addition, 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. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

SB 226 (Nielsen): This bill would create a watershed restoration grant program for fire impacted counties. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

SB 247 (Dodd): This bill would require nvestor-owned utilities (IOUs) to comply with vegetation management requirements within their wildfire mitigation plans. This bill would require Cal FIRE to verify vegetation management work completed by the IOUs to confirm compliance with their submitted wildfire mitigation plans. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

SB 515 (Caballero): This bill would require the California Public Commission to submit a report to the Legislature with information regarding the amount of high hazard zone vegetation eligible for removal, an assessment of the overall market potential for high hazard zone fuel in California, and an assessment of the potential high hazard zone fuel supply for each current Biofuel Renewable Auction Mechanism contract. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

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 this bill.

SB 167 (Dodd): This bill would require IOUs to consider how Public Safety Power Shutoffs 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 has a support position on the bill.  

SB 560 (McGuire): This bill would require IOUs and publicly owned utilities to include procedures for circuit by circuit level notification of a deenergization to first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure in wildfire mitigation plans. In addition, the bill would also require mobile telephone service providers to coordinate with appropriate community stakeholders in the event of a deenergization. CSAC has a support position on this bill.

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 assistance with fuels management to counties in order to protect against future devastating wildfires. Specifically, CSAC supports counties working closely together with Cal Fire in order to improve defensible space and non-combustion areas near communities and structures in wildfire threat areas to improve outcomes in the future. CSAC supports this measure because it improves existing programs that would provide more support and tools to help local communities deal with fire risk.

AB 394 (Obernolte): This bill would provide a California Environmental Quality Act 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 has a support position on this bill.

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