CSAC Bulletin Article

Legislature Passes Several Wildfire Safety Bills

September 12, 2019

The Legislature has passed several wildfire safety bills during the final week of the Legislative session that now await the Governor’s signature. CSAC has actively supported these measures throughout the process; providing input and feedback to the Legislature on impacts to counties. The measures include CEQA streamlining for egress routes in high fire threat sub-divisions, improved defensible space and vegetation management programs, the creation of a new wildfire threat center, and improvements in coordination between telecommunications companies and local communities during outages. CSAC will continue to support these measures by requesting the Governor’s signature.

AB 394 (Obernolte): This bill would provide a limited CEQA exemption for egress route projects undertaken by a public agency that were specifically recommended by CAL FIRE to improve the safety of a subdivisions and communities in high or very high fire threat zones.

AB 1516 (Friedman): This bill would require Cal Fire to establish a statewide program to certify and allow qualified entities, including counties, to support and augment the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts.

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 (WUI) safety information to building officials and the general public.

SB 209 (Dodd): This bill would require the Cal Fire and Cal OES to lead and establish a Wildfire Forecast and Threat Intelligence Integration Center. The Center would serve as the state’s integrated central organizing hub for wildfire forecasting, weather information, and threat intelligence gathering. In addition, the bill would require the center to develop a statewide wildfire forecast and threat intelligence strategy.

SB 247 (Dodd): This bill would require IOUs to comply with vegetation management requirements within their wildfire mitigation plans and would require the new Wildfire Safety Division within the Public Utilities Commission to verify vegetation management work completed by the IOUs to confirm 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 are unable to deliver emergency notices within 60 minutes of discovering the outage. In addition, this bill also requires Cal OES to provide notice of that outage to the county office of emergency service, the local county sheriff, and other public safety answering points in the county where the outage has occurred. 

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