The Barbed Wire - August 21, 2020

August 21, 2020
Governor Takes Emergency Action on California Wildfires
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 182 (Jackson) - Planning and Zoning: Wildfires
New Episode! Hometown California Podcast- Criminal Justice Reform Discussion with Magnus Lofstrom of the PPIC
United States Postal Service Funding and Operational Reforms
COVID-19 Relief Package Negotiations
Water Management Bill

Governor Takes Emergency Action on California Wildfires

As lighting from thunderstorms sparked hundreds of wildfires in California this week, Governor Newsom took swift action to aid the state’s response efforts as fires grew larger throughout the week.  First, the Governor declared a statewide state of emergency on Tuesday, August 18 to free up resources for fire suppression efforts amidst record temperatures and extremely dry conditions. The Governor has also secured federal funding assistance for: 1) the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, which is burning in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Solano and Yolo Counties; 2) the Jones Fire in Nevada County; 3) the CZU August Lightening Complex Fire in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties; and 4) the River Fire in Monterey County. The Governor’s emergency proclamation and information on his federal funding requests can be viewed on the Governor’s website here.

Currently, the SCU Lightening Complex Fire in the Bay Area and the LNU Lightening Complex Fire are the two largest wildfires of 2020, both surpassing 130,000 acres as of Thursday afternoon with very little containment.  More information on all of the fire activity in the state can be found on CAL FIRE’s website here.

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 182 (Jackson) - Planning and Zoning: Wildfires

RCRC has lent its support to Senate Bill 182, authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara). SB 182 establishes wildfire reduction standards and planning requirements for new housing developments in Very High Fire Risk Areas (VHFRA) of the state.

Specifically, SB 182 prohibits local governments from approving permits for housing developments unless the project is in compliance with the wildfire risk reduction standards as outlined in the bill. SB 182 also requires increased wildfire risk mitigation planning by local governments through updated local safety and land use elements of that jurisdiction’s general plan. Additionally, in order to reduce development pressures in the VHFRA through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, SB 182 requires a lower proportion of state housing allocation to jurisdictions that meet specified conditions.

RCRC’s support letter can be accessed here. SB 182 awaits final consideration on the Assembly Floor. For more information, Tracy Rhine, RCRC Legislative Advocate, can be reached at (916) 447-4806 or

New Episode! Hometown California Podcast- Criminal Justice Reform Discussion with Magnus Lofstrom of the PPIC

In the latest episode of Hometown California, Paul A. Smith, speaks with Magnus Lofstrom, Policy Director and Senior Fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) about the last ten years of criminal justice reforms in California, and the intersection with the day-to-day management of counties.

  • What was the impetus for reform when the efforts began?
  • Is California setting the trend, or following other states?
  • What does the data reveal about the effectiveness of the reforms?
  • How have the reforms impacted counties?
  • What are some differences the data shows between rural and urban counties?
  • Where do we go from here

Listen in as Lofstrom provides insight gained from PPIC's study of the data about California's criminal justice reforms. The resulting publications range from one-page fact sheets to comprehensive, in-depth reports.

As head of the Criminal Justice team at the PPIC, Lofstrom has spent years monitoring criminal justice reforms in California and studying their impacts, looking at recidivism and improving reentry outcomes, and assessing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

With a commitment to provide high-quality research and analysis, PPIC encourages civil, productive dialogue that inspires sustainable policy solutions in Sacramento and around the state. The mission, vision, and values of the PPIC drive the organizational choices and staff activities that continue this work. More information and research in other subject areas is available on the PPIC website.

United States Postal Service Funding and Operational Reforms

This past week, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has emerged as a surprising flashpoint amid fears that it might struggle to handle the expected surge in volume around Election Day as Americans cast absentee ballots in order to avoid contracting COVID-19 at their polling place. Those fears had been compounded by reforms instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, which included shifting operational practices and taking sorting machines offline. These fears reached a boiling point last weekend when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) summoned the House of Representatives back into session to vote on the Delivering for America Act (HR 8015), which would block the Trump Administration’s plan for overhauling the USPS as well as provide the agency $25 billion. A vote in the House is expected to take place this Saturday, with additional Senate and House hearings on the USPS expected to take place over the next several days.

Additionally, on Tuesday Postmaster General Dejoy announced that he was suspending "longstanding operational initiatives" amid fears that the changes could delay election mail this Fall in the middle of the pandemic. "To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded," Postmaster General DeJoy said in a statement. Speaker Pelosi reacted to the announcement, “They felt the heat. And that's what we were trying to do, make it too hot for them to handle.”

COVID-19 Relief Package Negotiations

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans circulated a slimmed-down coronavirus relief bill amid an impasse in negotiations between the White House and top Democratic leaders. The Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act is a narrow version of the HEALS Act offered by Senate Republicans late last month and includes: an additional $10 billion for the United States Postal Service (USPS); $300 per person in boosted weekly federal unemployment benefits until December 27th; another round of money for the Paycheck Protection Program; liability protections; $105 billion for education; and $29 billion for public health. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) are opposed to any “skinny” proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said during an event in Kentucky on Monday that he hoped the “impasse would end soon,” but added, “I can’t tell you with certainty we’re going to reach an agreement.”

With the House of Representatives returning on Saturday to vote on USPS legislation, there is a possibility that negotiations may resume on the larger relief package, however the prognosis of such an event remains unclear at this time.

Water Management Bill

Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Josh Harder (D-Stanislaus) introduced the Snow Water Supply Forecasting Program Authorization Act to establish an airborne snow observatory and measurement program within the United States Department of the Interior (DOI). Without accurate readings, water managers could be forced to unnecessarily release water from reservoirs or use it for groundwater pumping, resulting in millions of dollars in financial losses. This bill would replace the NASA program with a new program at the DOI to improve the understanding, management and deployment of snowpack measurement technologies used for seasonal water forecasting. It would also provide a total of $15 million in funding for fiscal years 2022 to 2026.


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

Upcoming Webinar: Improving Roadside Re-vegetation and Stormwater Quality with Compost-Based BMPs

The Caltrans Landscape Architecture Program, in partnership with CalRecycle, University of California Riverside, University of Washington, Filtrexx Sustainable Technologies, Salix Applied Earthcare, United States Composting Council, California Compost Coalition, and R. Alexander Associates, Inc., is presenting two half-day workshops that focus on the use of compost-based best management practices (BMPs) to improve roadside re-vegetation, control erosion, filter stormwater, reduce runoff, and improve stormwater quality. The webinar is taking place on August 26-27, 2020.

In addition to rolling out innovative methods of improving water quality, these workshops will provide attendees with the opportunity to ask questions of a diverse team of experts. The workshop team consists of University professionals, researchers, soil scientists, California compost industry professionals, Caltrans landscape architects, and other subject matter experts.

While this webinar is targeted towards Caltrans engineers and landscape staff, it will provide some insight towards this potentially growing market. Additional information about the webinar is available here. Register here.


CARB to Host Regulatory Training for Public Agencies

The California Air Resources Board will be hosting an Air Regulatory Overview webinar for public agencies on September 3, 2020. This course is an overview of air regulations that public agencies in California have compliance requirements, including:

  • Idling Limitations;
  • On-Road Public Fleet Regulation;
  • In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation;
  • Periodic Smoke Inspection Program; &
  • Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP).

DATE:            September 3, 2020
TIME:             1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:     Register

CARB will also provide a compliance overview of the Truck and Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment on October 8, 2020. Course topics include the following:

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

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:            October 8, 2020
TIME:             1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:     Register


SAFER Advisory Group Meeting and Question and Answer Webinar

The SAFER Adviory Group will meet on September 11, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This meeting is by remote participation only. A webcast will be available here. If you wish to comment on an agenda item or would like addiontal information, the notice is available in English or Spanish.


Bureau of Reclamation Seeks Public Input on Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement About Proposal to Raise Shasta Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to the proposal to raise the 600-foot-tall Shasta Dam by 3% (or an additional 18.5 feet). This proposed project would increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet or more than 200 billion gallons—enough water to support two million people a year. The resulting dedicated environmental storage is anticipated to improve water quality in the Sacramento River below the dam by lowering water temperatures for anadromous fish survival, such as Chinook salmon and other fish that migrate from the ocean to rivers to spawn.

The supplemental EIS provides information relevant to Reclamation’s application of Clean Water Act Section 404(r), updates modeling to be reflective of the 2019 Biological Opinions, and provides an updated analysis on effects to the McCloud River. View the Draft Supplemental EIS here. Submit comments to David Brick, Bureau of Reclamation, CGB-152, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825, via telephone at 916-202-7158 (TTY 1-800-877-8339) or via email at dbrick@usbr.govComments are due by close of business on September 21, 2020.


State Water Board Now Accepting SAFER Advisory Group Applications

The State Water Board is now accepting applications for the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group, which provides the State Water Board with advice on the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Expenditure Plan and other SAFER-related policies. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020.

There are 10 seats open for the 2020 application period. Applicants will be selected and notified by Winter 2020. County resource staff and other interested parties are encouraged to apply. The electronic application form is available on the SAFER Advisory Group website here.

The SAFER Advisory Group website will be updated with tools and resources regularly, so keep checking the website for more information.


HCD Announces the Release of the Homekey Notice of Funding Availability

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has announced the release of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $600 million in Homekey funds. The grant funding is available to cities, counties , or other local public entities within California to purchase and rehabilitate housing, as well as hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent, long-term housing. Prior to submitting an application, all applicants are required to engage in a pre-application consultationAll applications are due by September 29, 2020. Visit the Homekey webpage to learn more.


Career Opportunities

  • Colusa County Seeks Assistant Director of Public Works/Road Commissioner

The county of Colusa is accepting applications for the position of Assistant Director of Public Work/Road Commissioner. The position is open until filled. Details are available here.


Amendment to the Federal 2019-20 Community Development Block Grant

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has released an amendment to the federal 2019-20 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The NOFA applies to state CDBG non-entitlement cities and counties applying for funding under Community Development activities, Special Allocations for Economic Development, Colonia, and Native American Communities.

This amendment only affects the Economic Development (ED) set-aside and:

  • Removes the competitive process, allowing all applications, both program and project, to be reviewed and approved on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Extends the ED program application deadline to September 15, 2020.
  • Makes other changes to program activity limits and requirements for proof of capacity, while providing more local flexibility in ED program design and implementation.

You can access the 2019-2020 CDBG NOFA amendment and links to the online application here.


RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Cancelled

The RCRC Annual Meeting 2020 has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, the RCRC September Board of Directors Meeting will take place on September 16, 2020 via Zoom.

The Annaul Meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Planning is underway to hold a future Annual Meeting in Napa – most likely in 2022 – in order to enjoy the beauty of the County as well as contribute to its economic recovery. More information on the return to Napa will be forthcoming after consideration and action by the RCRC Board of Directors.


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

DWR Provides Tips for Holding Online Meetings to Address Groundwater Sustainability Plans

As Groundwater Sustainability Plans are being developed to meet the January 2022 deadline, several counties (and water agencies) have asked for advice for engaging stakeholders and interested parties through online resources. In response to community interest, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management Office has put together examples, tips, and tactics to consider. The DWR tips are available here.


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.

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.


Assembly Bill 660 (Levine): Personal Information: Contact Tracing: Assembly Bill 660 would prohibit law enforcement from engaging in contact tracing for the coronavirus. Status: AB 660 failed passage in the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Oppose

Assembly Bill 685 (Reyes) Occupational Safety: COVID 19: Assembly Bill 685 would mandate a comprehensive set of reporting requirements for all California employers when an employee is exposed to the coronavirus. Status: AB 685 gained passage in the Senate Appropriations Committee and awaits consideration on the Senate Floor. RCRC Status: Oppose

Assembly Bill 995 (Garcia): Hazardous Waste: Assembly Bill 995 establishes a new board to oversee and establish goals for operation of the Department of Toxic Substances Control and consider appeals from permit decisions made by that Department.  AB 995 requires the state to establish a task force to make recommendations on changes to the existing fees and taxes that fund DTSC’s operations and the cleanup of contaminated sites.  The bill also requires the state to develop a hazardous waste management plan to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated and disposed in the state. Status: AB 995 awaits action on the Senate Floor. RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez)/Senate Bill 54 (Allen): Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction. Assembly Bill 1080/SB 54 requires the state to reduce the waste associated with single use packaging and products 75 percent by 2030, requires the state to set standards for what is considered recyclable and compostable, and promotes the development of in-state manufacturing that uses recycled materials. Status: AB 1080 and SB 54 awaits consideration in the Senate and Assembly; respectively. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2178 (Levine): Emergency Services: Assembly Bill 2178 clarifies authority to declare a state or local emergency for a public safety power shutoff by adding deenergization events to the list of triggering events under the California Emergency Services Act. Status: AB 2178 was not brought up for a vote before in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2296 (Quirk): Local Primacy Agencies: Assembly Bill 2296 authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to delegate partial responsibility for the Safe Drinking Water Act's administration and enforcement by means of a local primacy delegation agreement. Authorizes the state board, for counties that have not been delegated primary responsibility as of January 2021, to offer an opportunity for the county to apply for partial or primary responsibility if the state board determines that it needs assistance. Status: AB 2296 awaits consideration on the Senate Floor. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2323 (Friedman): California Environmental Quality Act: Exemption: Assembly Bill 2323 makes several changes to improve the utility of various CEQA exemptions while maintaining adequate environmental protections. Among other things, AB 2323 allows CEQA exemptions to be used on infill, low-income, and agricultural housing projects proposed within the boundaries of a state conservancy. Status: AB 2323 was held on the in the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File. RCRC Status: Support

Assembly Bill 2459 (Bigelow): Alcoholic Beverage Licenses: County of Mariposa: Assembly Bill 2459 would authorize the Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue up to 10 additional new original on‑sale alcoholic beverage licenses to bona fide public eating places in Mariposa County that have a seating capacity for 50 or more persons.  Status: AB 2459 awaits consideration in the Senate Floor.  RCRC Status: Support/Co-Sponsor

Senate Bill 431 (McGuire): Mobile Telephony Service Base Transceiver Station Tower:  Senate Bill 431 requires the commission, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Services, to develop and implement performance reliability standards for all mobile telephony service base transceiver station towers, commonly known as "cell towers," located within a commission-designated Tier 2 or Tier 3 High Fire Threat District. Status: SB 431 was held on thein the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Senate Bill 862 (Dodd): Planned Power Outage: Public Safety: Senate Bill 862 clarifies that public safety power shutoffs are included in the California Emergency Services Act and expands the universe of medically sensitive individuals for whom electrical corporations must mitigate public safety power shutoff event impacts, and establishes minimum requirements for the locations, hours of operation and services provided by a Community Resource Center. Status: SB 862 was held by the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 989 (Dahle): Sierra Nevada Conservancy: Sierra Nevada Region: Senate Bill 989Modifies areas listed under the definitions of the Sierra Nevada Region and its subregions as specified for purposes of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Status: SB 989 was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 1156 (Archuleta): Lithium Ion Batteries: Illegal Disposal: Fire Prevent: Senate Bill 1156 requires the state to develop model protocols and training programs for responding to fires caused by lithium ion batteries in solid waste collection vehicles and at transfer stations, processing stations, and disposal facilities.  Solid waste enterprises would be required to adopt such protocols and training programs in consultation with local fire marshals. Status: SB 1156 awaits action on the Assembly Floor.  RCRC Status: Watch.

Senate Bill 1159 (Hill): Workers Compensation: Coronavirus: Senate Bill 1159 would provide enhanced workers’ compensation presumption benefits for coronavirus infections. Status: SB 1159 recently passed the Assembly Appropriations Insurance Committee and awaits consideration on the Assembly Floor. RCRC Status:  Oppose