The Barbed Wire - February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023
Senator Umberg Introduces Legislation to Extend CEQA Exemption for Conversion of Motels into Transitional and Supportive Housing
Bill of the Week: AB 297 (Fong) – Wildfires: local assistance grant program: advance payments
CalRecycle Seeks Budget Authority to Develop Statewide Zero-Waste Plan
CalRecycle Begins SB 54 Implementation Process for Single-Use Packaging
Governor Newsom Appoints Members to the California Air Resources Board
Congressmembers of the Western Caucus Urge the EPA and Army Corps to Rescind New WOTUS Rule
U.S. DOT Announces Awards of Nearly $133 Million to Improve Roadway Safety in California Communities
USDA Forest Service Accepting Grant Applications for Wood Innovations Projects, Community Wood Energy Facilities

Senator Umberg Introduces Legislation to Extend CEQA Exemption for Conversion of Motels into Transitional and Supportive Housing

On January 17, Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) introduced Senate Bill 91, which makes permanent a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption to covert hotels and motels into supportive and transitional housing.   

This CEQA exemption was created through the author’s SB 450 (2019) in response to the pressing need to create housing for the state’s homeless population.  RCRC supported SB 450 because existing hotels and motels can easily be repurposed to provide affordable housing and housing is often the first step to addressing the underlying causes of or avoiding homelessness.  Extending this CEQA exemption will help save significant project costs and avoid lengthy litigation delays associated with these conversion projects.   

RCRC’s letter of support can be found here. For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy

Bill of the Week: AB 297 (Fong) – Wildfires: local assistance grant program: advance payments

RCRC is supporting Assembly Bill 297, authored by Assembly Member Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), which extends CAL FIRE’s ability to offer advance payments of up to 25 percent of the total grant reward from its Wildfire Prevention Grants program to January 1, 2034.  

Mitigating wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface is increasingly important as California’s fire severity worsens statewide due to climate change and the continued need to improve the health of the state’s forests and wildlands. CAL FIRE’s Wildfire Prevention Grants Program funds projects to mitigate wildfire risk around communities and to educate homeowners about home hardening and other necessary risk reduction measures to help safeguard them from the impacts of wildfire. Currently, the program can offer advance payments for up to 25 percent of the total grant amount to expedite projects; however, the advance payment provision will sunset on January 1, 2024.  

AB 297 would extend the advance payment sunset to January 1, 2034, enabling CAL FIRE to continue providing advance payments in order to expedite community wildfire mitigation efforts statewide. RCRC’s letter of support is available here. For more information, please contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate Staci Heaton at

CalRecycle Seeks Budget Authority to Develop Statewide Zero-Waste Plan

As part of the Governor’s January Proposed Budget CalRecycle is seeking $2 million and 2 permanent positions to develop and implement a statewide zero waste plan.   

CalRecycle already has a goal of diverting 75% of solid waste from landfill disposal and recycling 75% of the state’s organic waste.  Local jurisdictions are already charged with diverting 50% of their solid waste from landfill disposal and implementing the state’s new aggressive organic waste recycling requirements.  California has adopted many commodity-specific, producer-run recycling programs, including a new requirement for manufacturers to source reduce and recycle single-use packaging and plastic food service ware. 

CalRecycle seeks to use $2 million in unredeemed beverage container deposits to develop the program and $300,000 from various existing fees and program funds to pay for annual staff implementation costs.  CalRecycle claims the “Plan will complement existing state laws (e.g. SB 54, SB 1383…) and programs to highlight strategies that are higher on the waste management hierarchy, including source reduction and reuse, and ensure resource consistency for program implementation as the state moves towards zero waste.” 

CalRecycle will focus the plan on other aspects of the supply chain that have not been addressed through existing program and policies.  It believes that the statewide analysis can help reduce barriers and lower the cost of recycling at the local level.  In a significant shift, the zero waste plan will shift away from traditional metrics like disposal and waste tonnages and look toward prioritizing source reduction and reuse and getting hard to manage products out of the waste stream altogether.   

While some local governments have already developed local zero waste programs and goals, including RCRC member counties, CalRecycle recognizes that rural jurisdictions face serious challenges in increasing recycling rates and getting materials into the marketplace.    

RCRC will continue to track the proposal and offer feedback to CalRecycle and the Legislature, recognizing that one-size-fits-all approaches will not work given the diversity and unique challenges among local jurisdictions. 

For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy

CalRecycle Begins SB 54 Implementation Process for Single-Use Packaging

Last year, the Legislature enacted sweeping legislation to reduce the use and increase recycling of single-use packaging and plastic food service ware.   

SB 54 (Allen) marked a paradigm shift in which manufacturers of single-use packaging and food service ware must take responsibility for the management and recycling of the products they introduce into the stream of commerce.   Traditionally, local governments have borne the full responsibility for achieving the state’s solid waste management and recycling directives, so SB 54 is transformative in that respect.  The measure is clear that manufacturers bear responsibility for costs incurred by local agencies and recycling service providers associated with the collection, storage, handling, and marketing of covered products.  

CalRecycle held their first SB 54 Informational Meeting on January 31, 2023.  That meeting provided an overview of how the regulatory process will work, implementation timelines, and how to get involved.  CalRecycle noted that they will soon start the process of selecting members of the SB 54 Advisory Board, which will include one representative nominated by a statewide rural county association. 

Interested stakeholders can join CalRecycle’s SB 54 listserv to receive notice of future meetings and publications.   

For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy

Governor Newsom Appoints Members to the California Air Resources Board

On January 31, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed several new members to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  CARB is charged with “protecting the public from the harmful effects of air pollution and developing programs and actions to fight climate change.”   

Governor Newsom’s new appointees include: 

  • Eric Guerra, 44, who currently serves as a Vice Mayor for the City of Sacramento. 

  • V. Manuel Perez, 50, who is a Riverside County Supervisor and formerly represented Riverside and Imperial Counties in the California State Assembly. 

  • Bill Quirk, 77, a physicist and former member of the California State Assembly and Hayward City Councilmember. 

  • Susan Shaheen, 56, who is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley. 

Governor Newsom also reappointed Diane Takvorian (environmental health), and John Eisenhut (agriculture) to CARB and reappointed Gideon Kracov to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board, for whom he currently sits as a delegate on the CARB Board. 

CARB’s Board is made up of 16 members, 12 of whom are appointed by the Governor and 4 of whom are appointed by the Legislature.  Board members serve for six-year terms.  Six board members must serve on local air districts, one must have experience in automotive engineering, one must have experience in chemistry, meteorology, agriculture, or law, and one must be a physician and surgeon or authority on the effects of air pollution.  Two members are appointed as members of the public and two legislators serve as non-voting ex officio members. 

RCRC is frequently engaged with CARB as they develop strategies to reduce air pollution and implement the state’s climate change programs. 

Congressmembers of the Western Caucus Urge the EPA and Army Corps to Rescind New WOTUS Rule

Last week, Congressmembers of the Western Caucus sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps in opposition to the decision to issue a new final rule defining Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Citing concerns that the new rule will worsen conditions for farmers, ranchers, job creators, and landowners, the Western Caucus urged them to rescind the new rule, and to postpone any subsequent agency action on WOTUS until the Supreme Court issues an opinion on Sackett v EPA, which will address the scope of agency authority that was granted by Congress in the Clean Water Act. The full letter is available here.

U.S. DOT Announces Awards of Nearly $133 Million to Improve Roadway Safety in California Communities

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced grant awards for the first round of funding for the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program, a program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  California was awarded nearly $133 million in support of 50 initiatives across the state to improve roadway safety Among the award recipients were the RCRC member counties of Butte, Madera, Modoc, Yuba. The full list of California award recipients is available here. The fiscal year 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity is expected to open in April for the second round of SS4A grants.

USDA Forest Service Accepting Grant Applications for Wood Innovations Projects, Community Wood Energy Facilities

On January 31st, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced it will offer $41 million through the 2023 Wood Innovations Grant and 2023 Community Wood Grant programs to spark innovation and create new markets for wood products and renewable wood energy. The Wood Innovations Grant Program makes funding available to expand traditional wood use projects, advance wood energy markets, and promote wood use in commercial building construction.  The Community Wood Grant Program funds shovel-ready projects to install thermally led community wood energy systems or build innovated wood project facilities to support healthy forests and stimulate local economies by expanding renewable wood energy and innovated wood products manufacturing capacity.  

The application deadline for both grant programs is Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 5 p.m. local time. Applications may be submitted via email to the Forest Service Regional Wood Innovations coordinator listed in the application instructions. More information is available at the Forest Service Wood Innovations website here


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


Launch Community Resilience Projects and Apply to Be a CivicSpark Partner - Early Application Deadline February 6th

CivicSpark is a national service program implemented by CivicWell (formerly the Local Government Commission), dedicated to supporting local governments and community organizations to address key community resilience issues such as climate change, water resource management, housing, and mobility. To find out about partnership opportunities, eligibility, and the application process, visit the website at  The early partner application deadline has been extended to February 6, 2023. View the program flyer here.


Energy Safety Office to Host Workshop on Utility Vegetation Management Best Practices

The Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) is hosting scoping meeting for stakeholders—including state agencies and California’s electrical corporations—to share ideas and discuss best practices for utility vegetation management for wildfire safety. Topics will include utility vegetation management practices in need of standardization and alignment in high fire risk areas. The meeting notice and agenda can be viewed here. 

DATE:                  Friday, February 10, 2023
TIME:                   9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
WHERE:              Zoom/Virtual Only.
Join Zoom Here
Enter Passcode 038077


California Chamber of Commerce Launches Foundations of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Course

To help employers move the needle on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the California Chamber of Commerce has officially launched its Foundations of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion course, which aims to:

  • Help learners become more conscious about DEI and understand its value to an organization’s bottom line;
  • Support learners in becoming more self-aware; and
  • Identify inclusive leadership behaviors that will ensure a workplace where people can thrive.

Employers can use this approximately one-hour training to empower teams, amplify underrepresented voices, attract and retain an enthusiastic workforce, and establish an infrastructure that supports change and promotes professional development.

Although having employees complete DEI training isn’t a legal requirement, implementing such training would benefit workplaces, employers and employees through improved performance, increased retention, enhanced engagement and loyalty, and more. Participants also are eligible for HRCI, SHRM and MCLE credits.


CMSP Offering Healthcare Infrastructure Development Matching Grant

The CMSP Healthcare Infrastructure Development Matching Grant program (HID Matching Grant) will help CMSP counties and non-profits contracted with CMSP counties to expand their physical capacity to provide healthcare and behavioral health services by providing required local level match funds for state, federal or other infrastructure grants.  Up to $10 Million may be awarded!  Awards range up to $500,000 for projects serving a single CMSP county and up to $ 1,000,000 for projects serving multiple CMSP counties. HID Matching Grant applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, beginning February 1, 2023 through June 1, 2023.   Applications will be considered as they are received and will be submitted to the Governing Board for consideration at an upcoming regularly scheduled public meeting of the Board. Completed applications must be submitted to by June 1, 2023. To learn full program details and requirements, or to download an application, visit the CMSP website here.


Training: Land Use Planning for Wildfire (Free!) 

The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection announces the launch of the CAL FIRE / Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Introduction to Land Use Planning for Wildfires in California Trainings.  

These free, all-day, in person trainings are open to land use planners, fire marshals, fire chiefs, fire mitigation specialists, building officials, and other professionals from government agencies and the private sector engaged in planning, policy, development review and/or approval activities in California. 

The following is a list of upcoming trainings across the state. 

  • February 7, 2023 – San Diego 
  • February 16, 2023 – Redding 
  • March 7, 2023 – Roseville 
  • March 9, 2023 – Morgan Hill 
  • April 18, 2023 – Del Rey 
  • April 20, 2023 – Los Osos 

Space is limited. For more information and to register, see here

view flyer


Career Opportunities

Mariposa County

  • Mariposa County is seeking applications for Chief Probation Officer. For more information, or to apply online, see here (position flyer here). Only online applications will be accepted. The position closes on February 13, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

Shasta County

  • Shasta County invites applications for County Counsel. For more information, or to apply online, see here. View the full position announcement here. The final filing date is February 15, 2023 at 7:59 a.m.

Sierra County

  • The County of Sierra is seeking a Director of Health and Social Services, responsible for the management and administration of Department of Health and Social Services.  A full description and qualifications are available here. For more information, visit the county website here or call (530) 289-2879.
  • The Sierra County Department of Transportation is recruiting for a Transportation Planner II or III, depending on qualifications. This position is open until filled. For more information, see the county website here or call 530-289-2879

Tuolumne County

  • Tuolumne County Auditor Controller's Office is seeking qualified candidates for the Assistant Auditor-Controller. This assistant department head position will be responsible for assisting with the planning, organizing, and directing of the daily functions of the Auditor’s Office, including budget prep and administration, payroll, fixed asset accounting, procurement, general accounting, A/P, auditing and reporting. Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree with emphasis in accounting, and five (5) years of public accounting experience. Equal Opportunity Employer. Salary range: $9,505 - $11,553/mo. Position closes Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Apply online here.

  • Tuolumne County Public Works is seeking an experienced integrated waste professional with extensive knowledge of environmental regulations and compliance to oversee the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste and hazardous materials, provide public outreach and training, promote recycling programs, maintain two closed landfills, and negotiate and monitor contracts for environmental and landfill services. The Director of Solid Waste, as a key member of the management team, will oversee a staff of four and provide expert advice and support to the Director, Board members, and the community.  Bachelor’s degree and three years’ experience in solid waste management with two years at a supervisory or higher level. Flexible schedule 90/8 or 20%-40% telework considered for right candidate. Position is open until filled. EOE For additional details, see here.

Yolo County

  • (NEW!) The County of Yolo is seeking an innovative, forward thinking, and politically astute executive leader to become the new Director of Community Services. The annual salary range for the Director of Community Services position is $173,396 - $210,764, depending upon experience and qualifications. The County of Yolo also offers an attractive benefits package. For more information, or to apply online visit the website of Bob Murray & Associates here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call Gary Phillips at (916) 784-9080. Filing Deadline: March 5, 2023.

  • The County of Yolo is currently recruiting for the position of Director, Integrated Waste Division. To learn more about the position and application process, please click here. Apply no later than February 24, 2023.

  • The County of Yolo is recruiting to fill one (1) regular, full-time position in the class of Public Information Officer (PIO) at the County Administrator's Office. The role of the Public Information Officer is to manage the County’s communications with the public through press releases, social media, videos, live media and the County website. The PIO informs and engages the community and other stakeholders regarding County activities, services, and strategies.  The PIO also functions as the County Spokesperson which requires knowledge of County programs and policies. As a member of the County Emergency Operations Center personnel, the PIO also acts in a lead capacity in disseminating information during an emergency. The full job announcement can be found here. This position is open until filled.


Institute for Local Government Launches New Digital Planning Commissioner Handbook & Regional Trainings

The Institute for Local Government (ILG) recently released an updated version of their Planning Commissioners Handbook. This handbook is designed to support planning commissioners, their staff, and other officials interested in land use and planning; to help local officials understand the planning process; and provide a glimpse of some potential planning challenges commissioners may experience during their terms. The handbook describes the major terms, plans, and policies that make up the framework of local planning, as well as typical stakeholders in the process and the basics of reviewing applications for development.

In conjunction with this release, ILG is hosting regional training sessions for planning commissioners. These interactive sessions will take place in person at various locations throughout the state and will cover topics such as the role of a planning commission, how to work effectively with staff and the governing board, effective community engagement, CEQA basics, required planning documents, and local and regional planning challenges and opportunities. Each session will give participants the opportunity to engage with experts in the field and fellow planning commissioners to hear best practices, emerging trends, and lessons learned. All sessions are FREE but space is limited and registration is required. Find a full schedule and register here.

Next Training: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, February 17, 2023


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox


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


Kelly Babineau, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Nevada County Superior Court. Babineau has been a Sole Practitioner since 2009. She served as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office from 2002 to 2009 and was an Attorney for the California Central Appellate Project from 2005 to 2015. Babineau was an Associate at Rothschild, Wishek & Sands from 2000 to 2002. She served as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office from 1997 to 2000. She was a Contract Attorney on the Panel at the Office of the Federal Defender, Eastern District of California from 2010 to 2021 and for the Sacramento County Conflict Criminal Defenders from 2009 to 2022. Babineau earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thomas M. Anderson. Babineau is a Democrat.

John P. Fitzpatrick II, of Davis, has been appointed Chief Financial Officer, Veterans Homes at the Veterans Homes Division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Fitzpatrick has been Finance Budget Analyst at the California Department of Finance since 2008 and has served in several positions there since 2004, including Principal Program Budget Analyst II and Principal Program Budget Analyst III. He was Fiscal Director at the California Redistricting Commission in 2021. Fitzpatrick was an Auditor at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Contract Audit Agency from 2002 to 2004. He was an Analyst at Accenture from 2001 to 2002. Fitzpatrick was a Graduate Assistant at San Diego State University, Graduate School of Business in 2000. He earned a Master of Science degree in Accounting and Taxation from San Diego State University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $151,728. Fitzpatrick is registered without party preference. 

Katherine Hansen, of Monterey County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Hansen has served as a Commissioner at the Santa Cruz County Superior Court since 2022. She was Deputy County Counsel in the Monterey County Counsel’s Office from 2019 to 2022. She was State Affairs Counsel at the American Association for Justice from 2016 to 2019 and an Attorney at the Veen Firm from 2014 to 2016. Hansen was a Partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP from 2008 to 2013 and Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Barbary Coast Consulting from 2007 to 2008. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Hansen fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Paul M. Marigonda. She is a Democrat.

Catherine Swysen, of Santa Barbara County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Swysen has been Managing Partner at Sanger Swysen & Dunkle since 1997, where she has held several positions since 1992 including Associate and Law Clerk. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Barbara College of Law. Swysen fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ginger E. Garrett. She is a Democrat.


RCRC press releases and related news clips about RCRC and our member counties. Please note that a subscription may be required to read some external publications.


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Improving Support for Digital Health in Rural America  – Sierra Sun Times 

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a number of proposals for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make it easier for health care providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the overall efficiency of the program.   

Lawmakers want a probe, hearings into California cannabis  – Los Angeles Times 

California lawmakers are calling for a sweeping investigation into corruption in the state’s cannabis industry, legislative hearings on the exploitation of farmworkers and new laws to thwart labor trafficking in response to revelations of rampant abuses and worker deaths in a multibillion-dollar market that has become increasingly unmanageable

The wait for rural broadband in Sonoma County may not be much longer – Sonoma County Gazette 

Construction of a broadband system for rural residents in California could begin by the end of the year, according to Golden State Connect, a regional Joint Powers Authority established to increase access to high-speed internet for residents and businesses in unincorporated areas of Sonoma County and 38 other rural member counties. 


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

AB 78   (Ward)   Grand juries. Assembly Public Safety   Status: 2/2/2023-Referred to Com. on PUB. S.   Position:   Oppose   Staff:  Sarah (1)

AB 297   (Fong, Vince)   Wildfires: local assistance grant program: advance payments.     Location: Assembly Natural Resources   Status: 2/2/2023-Referred to Com. on NAT. RES.   Position:   Support   Staff:  Staci (1)

AB 324   (Pacheco)   Gas corporations: renewable gas procurement.     Location: Assembly Print   Status: 1/31/2023-From printer. May be heard in committee March 2.   Position:   Watch   Staff:  John (1)

AB 338   (Aguiar-Curry)   Public works: definition.     Location: Assembly Print   Status: 1/31/2023-From printer. May be heard in committee March 2.   Position:   Oppose   Staff:  Staci (1)

AB 340   (Fong, Vince)   California Environmental Quality Act: grounds for noncompliance.     Location: Assembly Print   Status: 1/31/2023-From printer. May be heard in committee March 2.   Position:   Pending   Staff:  John (1)

SB 35   (Umberg)   Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program.     Location: Senate Rules   Status: 1/18/2023-Referred to Com. on RLS.   Position:   Pending   Staff:  Sarah (1)