By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
I have been appointed to a new Select Committee on Natural Disaster Response, Recovery and Rebuilding, co-chaired by Assemblymembers Marc Levine, D –Marin, (Santa Rosa Fire), and Monique Limón, D – Santa Barbara (Thomas Fire). Most members represent districts severely impacted by CA wildfires, including Cecilia Aguilar-Curry, D-Winters, (Napa Fire), Dr. Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg (Santa Rosa Fire), and myself (Lilac Fire).
This week we met to hear from local governments and other experts on improvements to California’s response, alert systems and best practices in the rebuilding process.
Since San Diego County’s tragic Cedar Fire in October 2003 (273,246 acres, 2,820 structures, 15 lives lost) and Witch Fire in October 2007 (197,990 acres, 1,650 structures, 2 lives lost) we have learned a lot about communications, public alert systems and rebuilding. There is still more to do for future wildfires. Our committee is learning from each other and from the community leaders who are dealing with the latest fire aftermaths.
In December, the Lilac Fire destroyed over 150 structures in the Fallbrook area, including 75 manufactured homes. My legislation, AB 1943, which updates archaic state laws that get in the way of rebuilding and block conventional home financing, recently passed the Housing & Community Development Committee unanimously. Since AB 1943 has an urgency clause, once it’s signed by the Governor, it goes into effect immediately.
Fires, earthquakes, floods and landslides are part of California living. Antiquated laws and regulations impacting natural disaster assistance and recovery must be updated.
Most of all, we must be prepared. San Diego County Emergency Services has a great app called “SD Emergency” with real time information on incidents, emergencies and recovery. Also Cal Fire’s website: CAL FIRE – Home is a great source of information for communities in high fire risk areas like ours.
Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.