The Barbed Wire - April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021
Governor Signs Historic Wildfire Funding Package
Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 9 (Wood) – Fire Safety: Wildfires: Fire Adapted Communities
CPUC Approves Frontier Communications Corporate Restructuring
RCRC and the League of California Cities Collaborate to Oppose Restrictions on Local Regulation of Needle and Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs)
Highway Trust Fund & Vehicle Miles Traveled Hearing
Federal Firefighters Fairness Act
Orland Project Transfer Act
CSAC and RCRC Redistricting Webinar Series Part 2 Provides Valuable Insight for 2021

Governor Signs Historic Wildfire Funding Package

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a historic $536 million spending plan for early action budget funding geared toward wildfire prevention, forest resilience, and fire suppression efforts to help protect residents statewide from impacts from catastrophic wildfire events. The spending package is the largest funding commitment the state has ever made to wildfire prevention and forest resilience programs, and comes in the wake of the most destructive wildfire season in California history in 2020. 

The funds include $125 million in Greenhous Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) dollars to fulfill the Legislature’s second year of commitments under Senate Bill 901 (Dodd, 2018), which promised five consecutive years of $200 million annual appropriations from the GGRF for forest health programs. Funding in the plan includes: 

  • $155 million to CAL FIRE for state forest health programs;
  • $123 million to CAL FIRE for local community fire prevention grants;
  • $25 million to CAL FIRE and CalOES for programs to assist homeowners with fire prevention retrofits (home hardening); 
  • $2 million to CAL FIRE to fortify defensible space inspection activities; 
  • $20 million to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to implement projects in high fire risk areas; 
  • $16 million for the Climate Catalyst Fund to help stimulate industries with low-interest finance for low carbon projects and programs such as woody biomass utilization or methane capture technologies;
  • $3 million to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to develop strategies to encourage the use and development of new wood products; and, 
  • $6 million to CAL FIRE and the Workforce Development Board to help develop the state’s forest health and wildfire prevention workforce. 

The official announcement on the early action wildfire funding can be found on Governor Gavin Newsom’s website here.

Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 9 (Wood) – Fire Safety: Wildfires: Fire Adapted Communities

RCRC and a coalition of stakeholders voiced its support for Assembly Bill 9, authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa).  AB 9 will codify the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity (RFFC) program, which creates a new regional approach to develop strategies for wildfire risk reduction project development.  

As part of the 2018-19 State Budget, the state appropriated $20 million to develop regional approaches that improve forest health and fire resilience.  The appropriation resulted in the RFFC program, which has helped fill the existing capacity gaps by granting funds to regional entities to work with local, state, and federal partners to develop Regional Priority Plans.

AB 9 will codify the RFFC program and support the Department of Conservation (DOC) in creating new regional entities and sustaining the regional entities funded to date.  Additionally, AB 9 will provide statutory guidance to DOC in expanding the focus of the RFFC program to examine project development within communities as well as projects on the landscape.  

As California continues to grapple with devastating impacts of catastrophic wildfires that are increasing in intensity and frequency, more tools and strategies must be developed to prevent these devastating fires.   As such, RCRC and the coalition believes regional approaches are the best way to bring diverse interests together to address the unique challenges faced throughout the state.  

AB 9 currently awaits consideration in the Assembly Local Government Committee. The coalition letter can be accessed here.  For more information, contact Staci Heaton, RCRC Acting Vice President Governmental Affairs, by email  or call (916) 447-4806.

CPUC Approves Frontier Communications Corporate Restructuring

On April 15, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved Frontier Communications corporate restructuring to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy, first initiated almost one year ago. Frontier is one of the two largest Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILEC) in California, offering phone, video, and/or broadband service in 44 counties. The CPUC adopted various conditions in their Decision based on a variety of operational, financial, service, pricing, and employment matters. Frontier will have to fund a Compliance Monitor to assist the CPUC with future enforcement efforts. Frontier must also submit a detailed plan to improve its service quality, including (but not limited to) out of service performance, and credit customers for service outages lasting more than 24 hours for a multi-year period. 
Additionally, this Decision provides tribal and local governments with a “right of first offer” to purchase property that Frontier proposes to sell or dispose of, with tribes receiving priority over local governments for any competing claims. Further, the CPUC is requiring Frontier to invest $1.75 billion in California over the next 4 years and undergo service improvements, redundancy and reliability, and must also target improving the scale, quality and reliability of backhaul and expand broadband deployment in unserved or underserved rural communities. Part of this investment is a requirement to build out fiber to 350,000 locations by December 31, 2026; of these, 150,000 locations must be in areas where Frontier has lower rates of return. In an effort to balance the inadequacies of rural infrastructure, within the 150,000 locations for fiber build out, the CPUC is requiring 10 percent of these funds going to rural areas with fewer than 50,000 people. It is estimated that nearly 90% of Frontier’s rural households do not have fiber services, whereas approximately 42% of its urban households do. Frontier will also be able to retain its Carrier of Last Resort status.
For more information, see here

RCRC and the League of California Cities Collaborate to Oppose Restrictions on Local Regulation of Needle and Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs)

On Monday, RCRC joined the League of California Cities in providing comments to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on proposed regulatory changes to their permitting process for SEP programs.

Under existing law, SEP programs may be authorized either by a county’s board of supervisors and local health officer or by the city council and mayor of a city.  Alternatively, CDPH may allow several different types of public health, drug abuse treatment, and housing programs to provide hypodermic needle and syringe exchange services.  CDPH’s regulations require an applicant to attest that their program complies with state laws, regulations, and local ordinances.  

CDPH’s proposed regulatory changes delete the requirement for a SEP applicant to certify compliance with local ordinances.  In justification of their proposal, CDPH argues that existing law preempts local land use ordinances regulating or prohibiting SEPs.  The League and RCRC vigorously reject these preemption claims and argue that such a regulatory change will mislead applicants into a false assumption that they need not comply with local regulations and lead to costly litigation.

This regulatory effort is similar in nature to pending legislation.  AB 1344 (Arambula) would have exempted SEPs from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and from public nuisance claims, including for the illegal disposal of used needles and syringes.  RCRC and the League of California Cities strongly opposed AB 1344 because it would have seriously eroded the ability for local governments to address any public health problems arising from SEPs.  As a result of strong local opposition, the author removed the public nuisance exemption and AB 1344 now simply exempts SEP applications from CEQA.  With these changes, both RCRC and the League of California Cities removed their opposition.

To read the letter to CDPH, click here.  For more information, please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate, by email or call (916) 447-4806.


Highway Trust Fund & Vehicle Miles Traveled Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on the, “Long-term Solvency of the Highway Trust Fund: Lessons Learned from the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program and Other User-based Revenue Solutions, and How Funding Uncertainty Affects the Highway Programs.”  The hearing largely focused on the failures of the current highway trust fund system and what steps can be taken to ensure an equitable and resilient future transportation system in the United States. The witnesses generally agreed that the current highway trust fund system needs to be greatly reformed and restructured in order to pay for current operations as well as be expanded to support of the large-scale infrastructure projects that have been discussed as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Witnesses spoke at length about a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax, the various state pilot programs and implementation challenges they have faced, privacy concerns that need to be addressed, as well as the successes of these programs and how their results can lead to a future federal pilot program.  Additional discussion surrounded the use of private funds to offset traditional government investment in infrastructure projects as well as the necessity to ensure equity for rural and low-income residents in any future pay-for structure.

Federal Firefighters Fairness Act

On Wednesday, Representative Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) introduced the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2021 (H.R. 2499), which would ensure that federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters.  A Senate companion bill (S. 838) was introduced in March by Senators Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).  Currently, federal firefighters are required to pinpoint the precise incident or exposure of damage for it to be considered job-related.  This burden of proof is extraordinarily difficult for firefighters to meet because they work in such a wide variety of environments and conditions.  While California was the first state to pass a firefighter’s presumptive illness law in 1982 that counteracts such burden of proof requirements, this and other state laws do not cover federal firefighters. 

Orland Project Transfer Act

On Wednesday, Representatives John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) and Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) introduced the Orland Project Transfer Act (H.R. 2443), which would transfer legal ownership of the Orland Project in Colusa and Glenn Counties from the United States Bureau of Reclamation to a to-be-established local public agency.

CSAC and RCRC Redistricting Webinar Series Part 2 Provides Valuable Insight for 2021

On Friday, nearly two-hundred county staff and supervisors joined CSAC and RCRC for Part 2 of the Redistricting Webinar Series breaking down all you need to know about redistricting for your county. The final segment, What to Expect When You’re Redistricting, featured panelists Paul Mitchell of Redistricting Partners and Political Data Inc., David Twa, retired Chief Administrative Officer of Contra Costa County, and Supervisor Bruce Gibson of San Luis Obispo County. Participants received insights beneficial for developing an effective timeline, gathering public input, methods of line drawing, and so much more. The presentation slides are available for download. View the recorded presentation, including a bonus Q&A session with Paul Mitchell, right here.


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.


Matthew B. Atchley, 52, of Cameron Park, has been appointed Warden at Salinas Valley State Prison, where he has served as Acting Warden since 2019. Atchley held several positions at Salinas Valley State Prison from 2004 to 2016 and in 2019, including Chief Deputy Warden, Associate Warden, Correctional Captain, Correctional Lieutenant, Correctional Sergeant and Correctional Officer. Atchley also served in several positions at the Correctional Training Facility, where he was an Associate Warden from 2016 to 2019 and a Correctional Officer from 2002 to 2004. Atchley was an Aviation Mechanic for the United States Navy from 1986 to 1988. Atchley is a member of the Monterey County Peace Officers Association. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,024. Atchley is registered without party preference.

Katie D. James, 51, of Woodland, has been appointed Chief of the Office of Victim Services at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where she has served as Acting Chief since 2020. James held several positions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from 2006 to 2020, including Assistant Chief and Staff Services Manager at the Office of Victim Services. She was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst for the Special Processing Unit of the Board of Parole Hearings from 2005 to 2006. James held several positions at the Board of Prison Terms from 1996 to 2006, including Victim Assistance Coordinator and Executive Assistant. She was Senior Legal Typist for the Department of Personnel Administration at the California Department of Human Resources from 1994 to 1996. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $143,652. James is a Democrat.

Essra Mostafavi, 39, of Bishop, has been appointed to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Mostafavi has been Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Geode Environmental Inc. since 2017. She was Senior Project Manager at VCS Environmental from 2015 to 2017. Mostafavi was an Associate Environmental Planner at Caltrans District 8 from 2012 to 2015. She was on the Board of Directors at Global Majority from 2010 to 2012. Mostafavi was Acting County Director at Winrock International in 2010. She earned a Master of Arts degree in international environmental policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Mostafavi is a Democrat.

Kathleen M. Otermat, 63, of Georgetown, has been appointed Administrative Assistant to the Secretary and the Undersecretary at the Government Operations Agency. Otermat has been an Executive Assistant at the California Department of Motor Vehicles since 2019. She was an Executive Assistant and Clerk of the Board for the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board from 2016 to 2019. Otermat was a Program Technician III at the California Contractors State License Board from 2015 to 2016. She was a Project Manager for Apple Computer Inc. from 2001 to 2006. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $86,880. Otermat is a Democrat.

Vivian E. Perez, 59, of Holtville, has been appointed to the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board. Perez has been Center Manager at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest since 2016 and a Faculty Member at the University of Phoenix since 2010. She was a Provider Network Consultant at Fresenius Health Partners from 2016 to 2017. Perez was Operations Manager at Fresenius Medical Care North America from 2012 to 2014. She was a Commissioner for the Imperial Valley Housing Authority appointed by the City of Holtville from 1997 to 2013. Perez earned a Master of Public Administration degree from San Diego State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Perez is a Democrat.

Lori J. Templeton, 51, of Yountville, has been appointed Home Administrator at the Veterans Home of California, Redding. She has served as Director of Residential Services at the Veterans Home of California, Yountville since 2020. She was a Liaison Officer in Southern California with Work for Warriors at the California Military Department from 2019 to 2020. Templeton was Deputy Commander of the Soldier Incentives Assistance Center at the California Military Department from 2017 to 2019. She was a Company Commander at the California Army National Guard from 2014 to 2016 and 2018 to 2020. Templeton was Training, Assessment, Counseling Officer at the Oakland Military Institute from 2013 to 2016. She was a Middle School Teacher and Community Day School Supervisor at Red Bluff Unified Elementary School District from 2006 to 2013. Templeton has served in the Reserve Army National Guard since 2010. Templeton earned a Master of Education degree from Simpson University. She is a member of the National Guard Association of California. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $138,648. Templeton is a Democrat.

Geneva E. Thompson, 31, of Arcata, has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs at the California Natural Resources Agency. Thompson is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and has been Associate General Counsel at the Yurok Tribe since 2019. She held multiple positions at Wishtoyo Foundation from 2016 to 2019, including Staff Attorney and Legal Fellow. Thompson is a board member of the National Native American Bar Association and former chair of its Young Lawyers Committee. She is a member of the American Bar Association and a member and past president of the California Indian Law Association. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $135,000. Thompson is a Democrat.


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.


Mendocino County Seeks Human Resources Manager

Mendocino County is seeking a Human Resources Manager to assist in the administration of the County's centralized Human Resources Department; oversee daily activities related to a major unit of the department; and provide professional assistance to County management staff in complex personnel and related matters. The position closes on April 28, 2021. To apply, or for more information, see here.


Forest Stewardship Workshop

The University of California Cooperative Extension is offering training opportunities to help landowners develop sustainable plans to improve and protect their forest lands. Online workshops are being offered weekly from March 22, 2021 through May 27, 2021, with an in-person session scheduled in Humboldt County on Saturday, April 24, 2021. For more information, see here.


California Air Resources Board Offers Webinars on Regulatory Compliance Training

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is offering a variety of training webinars for regulatory compliance on issues affecting public fleets such as Off-Road Regulations, Truck and Bus Rules, and Diesel Truck Rules. 

The In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) requires fleet owners to report to CARB, label their off-road vehicles, and reduce emissions from older equipment.  This course provides detailed information to help fleet owners understand and comply with the Off-Road Regulation: 

Date:               May 13, 2021
Time:               1:00 p.m.
Webinar:         Register


The CARB Diesel Truck Rules course will discuss compliance options and reporting requirements for 2021 and beyond for those that own, operate or dispatch heavy-duty diesel trucks in California. If your vehicles are not compliant, you need to know what the current and future requirements are. If your vehicles are compliant, you may need to report to remain compliant. 

Date:               April 29, 2021
Time:               1:00 p.m.
Webinar:         Register


The Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment course includes the following topics:

Truck and Bus Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Engine Model Year Schedule
  • Exemptions & Extensions
  • How to Report for Regulation Flexibilities
  • Broker and Dispatcher Requirements
  • DMV Registration

Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP):

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Program Updates

Advanced Clean Truck (ACT):

  • Manufacturers ZEV Sales Requirements
  • One-Time Reporting
  • Future ZEV Rules

In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Requirements Currently in Effect
  • Future Compliance Deadlines

Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) & Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM):

  • PERP Eligibility
  • Program Requirements
  • ATCM Program & Updates
  • Enforcement & Inspections

Date:               April 22, 2021
Time:               1:00 p.m.
Webinar:         Register



Resource pages, deadline extensions, and available programs to assist communities impacted by COVID-19.


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans can be used to bridge the gap for businesses while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event.  We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources.  CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.


Information related to the current status of legislation and regulations impacting California’s rural counties.