The Barbed Wire - February 5, 2021

February 5, 2021
RCRC Comments on Broadband Infrastructure Deployment in Rural Areas Devastated by Wildfire
Bill of the Week: SB 252 (Wiener) Update- Lawmaker Withdraws Bill to Ban Black Bear Hunting
Save the Date: Redistricting Webinar
Update on Board of Forestry Proposed Regulatory Package
Hometown California Interview with State Controller Betty Yee… Coming Soon!
Special Districts Legislation to Assist with COVID-19 Costs
Senator Padilla Committee Assignments
California’s ‘New River’ Restoration Act
Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Continue – Democrats Set Stage for “Going It Alone”

RCRC Comments on Broadband Infrastructure Deployment in Rural Areas Devastated by Wildfire

RCRC continues to prioritize broadband deployment and infrastructure needs as a core advocacy issue and is committed to a suite of solutions across the organization to connect communities to reliable, high-speed internet.  The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is currently investigating how to strategically deploy robust and affordable broadband access to close the digital divide and opened a formal proceeding on Broadband Infrastructure Deployment. 

On Monday, RCRC responded to a proposal on rebuilding broadband infrastructure after a wildfire and advocated for necessary infrastructure to be included with Investor-Owned Utility service restoration to provide open-access fiber options to the affected community.  RCRC suggests disasters not be limited to wildfire, as comparably destructive events (such as mudslides, earthquakes and floods) that require restoration of service may provide similar opportunities for inclusion of fiber conduit.  Further, RCRC argues rebuild requirements should not solely apply based on the type of disaster, but should instead be based on the severity of the disaster, such as a state or federal disaster designation.  Of the approximately 400,000 households that lack dial-up connection speeds, nearly all are in rural areas of the state which consistently bear the brunt of natural disasters and man-made adversities like proactive electric de-energization during extreme weather events.  RCRC’s full comments can be found here

The CPUC has outlined multiple phases of this proceeding to consider key issues, such as how strategies, incentives, and standards can improve open access for multiple carriers in deploying wireline and wireless infrastructure in rural areas, as well as investigate the role investor-owned utilities can play in deploying broadband services to communities lacking access to download speeds of 100 Mbps.  For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine at

Bill of the Week: SB 252 (Wiener) Update- Lawmaker Withdraws Bill to Ban Black Bear Hunting

Earlier this week, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) withdrew his Senate Bill 252, which would have fully banned the hunting of black bears across California. The bill was shelved amid strong opposition from a broad range of stakeholders including RCRC. Senator Wiener announced the withdrawal due to higher priority issues such as COVID-19 that needed his attention this year. 

SB 252 was introduced on January 26, 2021 as a measure which, according to Senator Wiener, was intended to protect the black bear population in California from diminishing habitat due to wildfires and other threats. The bill would have reclassified black bears as non-game mammals in California and eliminated the bear tag program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), which allows for no more than 1,700 bear kills annually, while preserving the ability for landowners to kill a black bear in the event of an immediate threat to their safety or that of livestock. The bill also allowed for obtaining depredation permits in the event of overpopulation by black bears in a specified area. 

RCRC’s letter of opposition noted the flourishing black bear population in California according to CDFW, while encouraging the author to seek remedies to California’s wildfire and forest management problem to help solve concerns about black bear habitat. RCRC will continue to monitor the issue for future attempts to ban black bear hunting in California. 

Save the Date: Redistricting Webinar

CSAC and the RCRC are teaming up on a two part webinar series that will break down all you need to know about redistricting for your county. The first webinar will take place on Friday, March 5, 10am-12pm. Registration information for this webinar will be available in the coming week. 

Part one of the series will focus on legal requirements, including the Voting Rights Act and changes as a result of AB 849 (2019), and will be of interest to county counsel, redistricting staff, and others who need a working knowledge of the technical aspect of redistricting. Part two, date to be announced, will be a conversation with county supervisors and staff on best practices and what you can expect the redistricting process to look like on the ground. Both webinars are open to all supervisors and county staff. If you have any questions please reach out to Ada Waelder at

Update on Board of Forestry Proposed Regulatory Package

This week RCRC staff convened a meeting with the California Board of Forestry (BOF) staff, state fire officials, county and city local government staff, and statewide association representatives to discuss issues with the BOF proposed changes to the State Fire Safe regulations. Individuals representing both city and county public works, planning, fire protection and disaster recovery, expressed serious concerns with the impacts the proposed revisions will have on rural communities and the detrimental effects on housing production throughout the state. Numerous individuals also questioned the fiscal practicality of operationalizing various provisions of the BOF proposal, both at the state and local level.

During the meeting, BOF staff announced that a new revised proposal will be released on Monday, February 8th, which will incorporate modifications based on public comments received since November. BOF staff also notified the group that the previously scheduled February 9th workshop would be rescheduled to the afternoon of February 24th in order to give the public more time to review and comment on the revised rulemaking language. BOF staff is requesting that comments on the new language released next week be submitted by February 17th. All public comment received by the BOF since the first workshop in November is now available for viewing on the BOF website, and will be updated weekly. Formal notice of the workshop is forthcoming.

The State Fire Safe regulations set forth basic wildfire protection standards for development in the State Responsibility Area and, beginning July 1, 2021, the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones of the Local Responsibility Area. The changes made in the draft rulemaking, will have far reaching impacts throughout the state, affecting both housing and businesses growth in rural and urban communities.

RCRC staff has been in discussions with the BOF since April, 2020 on proposed revisions to the State Fire Safe regulations and have offered both written and oral comments on the preceding emergency rulemaking that ultimately made more minor changes to the regulations.

For updates from the BOF on the Fire Safe Regulations and other activities of the BOF Resource Protection Committee, subscribe to email updates here. For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine at

Hometown California Interview with State Controller Betty Yee… Coming Soon!

On the next episode of Hometown California, RCRC Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs, Paul Smith, speaks to State Controller, Betty Yee. Paul and Controller Yee discuss the importance of the relationship between the State and Counties of California and how the two intersect in managing and deploying state resources. With over 35 years in the public sector, learn about how Ms. Yee’s foray into public service began at a very young age. Hear about the role of the Controller’s Office, the audits, and role of the office in financial policy. Tune in to hear insights about the financial health of rural California counties and the factors that have influenced the evolving landscape of rural county finances. Listen as Controller Yee speaks of the myriad of pressures on the finances of counties including pension obligations, health and human services, state mandates, and more.  Find Hometown California on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or your favorite listen app and subscribe now so you don’t miss the next episode, coming soon!

Special Districts Legislation to Assist with COVID-19 Costs

Last week, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) reintroduced the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act. The legislation, co-sponsored by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey), Jim Costa (D-Fresno), Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), would ensure that the 2,700 special districts in California and 30,000 special districts nationwide are eligible for any additional federal financial assistance provided by Congress to state, county, and local governments in the COVID-19 relief package.  Currently, special districts are ineligible for direct federal financial assistance under the “Coronavirus Relief Fund” established by the CARES Act.  While RCRC has not lent its formal support to the measure, it did help craft the legislation noting that the financial health of many special districts is critical for counties in rural parts of California. It should also be noted that monies directed to special districts would not come from any portion of a city or counties’ allocation of federal dollars.

Senator Padilla Committee Assignments

On Tuesday, it was announced that newly-appointed Senator Alex Padilla will serve on the Senate Committees on Budget; Rules and Administration; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Environment and Public Works (EPW); and, Judiciary in the 117th Congress. Of particular interest for RCRC is Senator Padilla’s assignment to EPW, which has oversite into a multitude of relevant issue areas for rural California including fisheries and wildlife protections, water and air pollution, flood control, and more.

California’s ‘New River’ Restoration Act

Last week, California Representatives Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) introduced the California New River Restoration Act, which would require the United States Environmental Protection Agency to establish the California New River Restoration Program. Once enacted, the program will provide grants and technical assistance for the planning and implementation of conservation strategies for the New River in Imperial County. In the 116th Congress, language from The California New River Restoration Act, was included as an amendment to the Invest in America Act.

Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Continue – Democrats Set Stage for “Going It Alone”

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden met with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and nine other Senate Republicans who are seeking a bipartisan deal on another coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. The group of Senators previously unveiled a $618 billion relief package to counter President Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal. The new proposal put forth by a group of Senate Republicans does not include monies for state and local governments. 

Following the release of the Senate Republican plan, the National Association of Counties (NACo) responded to the proposal, citing encouragement in the bipartisan nature of the negotiations but criticizing the lack of critical aid to states and localities. Last week, NACo sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), calling on the leaders to immediately pass local government support featured in the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a proposal that includes $350 billion in critical aid to state, local and territorial governments. RCRC continues to advocate that any such plan to provide aid to counties must include a direct payment from the U.S. Treasury to counties regardless of a county’s size.

As discussions with Republican members of Congress occurred, Senate Democrats moved forward with the budget reconciliation process that would allow passage of the President's $1.9 trillion relief bill (which contains significant amounts of state and local assistance) with a simple majority vote, thereby circumventing the 60 vote filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate.  The House of Representatives is slated to move forward as well; however, only a simple majority vote is required for passage in the House.


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


Career Opportunity - County of Del Norte Seeks County Administrative Officer

Del Norte County is seeking a dynamic professional who can lead County Administration and improve the services it provides for the community. The "Results Based Accountability" model of delivering and assessing services will be the primary tool by which the new County Administrative Officer will be evaluated. ln addition, the successful candidate should have excellent team building skills and be adept at forging and strengthening partnerships with all other community development agencies in the community. For more information,see the job bulletin here.

Applications are due by March 4, 2021. Application materials are found here.


Property Tax Postponement Deadline Approaching, February 10

The deadline to apply for California’s Property Tax Postponement (PTP) program for the 2020-21 tax year is February 10. Funding for PTP is limited, and applications are processed in the order they are received. Participants must reapply each year and demonstrate they continue to meet eligibility requirements.
Homeowners in the following counties affected by wildfire have been granted an extension to file until June 1, 2021: Butte, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Siskyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Applications and additional program details can be found online or by calling (800) 952-5661.


2020-21 California County Scorecard of Children’s Wellbeing Available

This week, Children Now released the 2020-21 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being, an interactive tool that delivers data on how kids are doing in each of California’s 58 counties, and tracks 39 key indicators of children’s well-being – over time, by race/ethnicity and relative to other counties – from prenatal to the transition to adulthood. The focus, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been largely on adults – addressing issues related to the retail and entertainment economy and to seniors. Children Now has found that the outlook for California kids is troubling, as they are struggling disproportionately. Increasingly experiencing stress, social isolation, disconnectedness and serious mental health issues, the learning loss and lack of preventive health care because of the pandemic threatens this entire generation. To ask questions or set up a time for an individual technical assistance session, email Children Now at


GO-Biz Announces Permit Streamlining “Olympics” for Electric Vehicle Charging


By April 22, 2021—Earth Day—the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) seeks to recognize jurisdictions that have complied with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station permit streamlining by awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze recognition “medals.” Assembly Bill 1236 (Chiu, 2015) required all jurisdictions to streamline permitting necessary to install EV charging infrastructure.  

The state has set ambitious climate change and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) readiness goals. GO-Biz continues to offer assistance to local government agencies on AB 1236 compliance, including best practices and streamlining templates. Contact for more information or direct assistance.


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.

  • 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.


Assembly Bill 1 (C. Garcia): Hazardous Waste: Assembly Bill 1 Establishes several new governance, policy, and fiscal reforms to improve the Department of Toxic Substances Control, including significantly increasing several fees and repealing several important fee exemptions. Status: AB 1 is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Assembly Bill 33 (Ting): Natural Gas: Prohibits new state buildings from having natural gas connections and utilities from subsidizing natural gas line connections. Status: AB 33 is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.  RCRC Status: Watch

Assembly Bill 318 (Levine): Hazardous waste: Assembly Bill 318 excludes from classification as hazardous waste green waste that has not been contaminated by a hazardous or toxic chemical during production, harvest, or processing.  Allows those green wastes to be disposed in a permitted solid or hazardous waste landfill or composting operation.  Status:  AB 318 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC Status:  Pending

Assembly Bill 322 (Salas): Energy: Electric Program Investment Charge program: Assembly Bill 322 requires the Energy Commission to allocate at least 20% of all funds appropriated for the Electric Program Investment Charge program (roughly $25 million annually) to bioenergy projects for biomass conversion. Status: AB 322 has been recently introduced.  RCRC Status: Support 

Assembly Bill 332 (ESTM): Hazardous waste: treated wood waste: Assembly Bill 332 seeks to reestablish a statutory pathway for the alternative management and disposal of treated wood waste in a landfill.  Status:  AB 332 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly.  RCRC Status:  Support.

Senate Bill 7 (Atkins): Jobs and Economic Improvement Environmental Leadership. Senate Bill 7 requires a lead agency to prepare a master environmental impact report (EIR) for a general plan, plan amendment, plan element, or specific plan for housing projects where the state has provided funding for the preparation of the master EIR. Allows for limited review of proposed subsequent housing projects that are described in the master EIR if the use of the master EIR is consistent with specified provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. Status: SB 7 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Status: Watch

Senate Bill 30 (Cortese): Building Decarbonization: Senate Bill 30 prohibits state agencies from designing or constructing a state facility that is connected to the natural gas grid and prohibits state agencies from funding projects for the construction of residential and nonresidential buildings that are connected to the natural gas grid. Status: Senate Bill 30 awaits consideration by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 38 (Wieckowski): Beverage Containers: Senate Bill 38 replaces the existing Beverage Container Recycling Program (Bottle Bill) with a new recycling program administered by beverage container manufacturers and increases the CRV from $0.05 to $0.10 per container if the state fails to achieve specified recycling rates. Status: SB 38 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 42 (Wieckowski): Department of Toxic Substances Control:  Senate Bill 42 establishes a new Board of Environmental safety to oversee the Department of Toxic Substances Control, consider permit appeals, and propose regulatory changes and establishes an ombudsperson to make and receive public complaints and suggestions. Status: SB 42 awaits consideration by the Senate Environmental Quality committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 52 (Dodd): State of Emergency: Power Outages. Senate Bill 52 clarifies that deenergization events (also known as PSPS events) qualify as events for which a state of emergency or local emergency can be declared under the California Emergency Services Act. Status: SB 52 awaits consideration in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 99 (Dodd): Community Energy Resilience Act of 2021: Senate Bill 99 requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. Sets forth guiding principles for plan development, including equitable access to reliable energy and integration with other existing local planning documents. Status: SB 99 awaits consideration in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.  RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 207 (Dahle): Photovoltaic Recycling Advisory Group: Senate Bill 207 seeks to spur the recycling and reuse of solar photovoltaic panels by requiring an advisory group to make recommendations to ensure that, to the extent possible, all solar photovoltaic panels in the state are reused or recycled at the end of their lives in a safe and cost-effective manner. Status: SB 207 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Senate. RCRC Status:  Support

Assembly Bill 431 (Patterson): Forestry: timber harvesting plans: defensible space: exemptions: Assembly Bill 431 prohibits a person from conducting timber operations, as defined, unless a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester has been submitted to, and approved by, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Status: AB 431 awaits referral to a policy committee in the Assembly. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 45 (Portantino): Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water Bond Act: Senate Bill 45 enacts the Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in a specified amount pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects for a wildfire prevention, safe drinking water, drought preparation, and flood protection program. Status: SB 45 awaits consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Pending

Senate Bill 208 (Dahle):Sierra Nevada Conservancy: Sierra Nevada Region: subregion:  Senate Bill 208 requires the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to make an annual report to the Legislature and to the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency regarding expenditures, land management costs, and administrative costs. This bill would modify areas listed under the definitions of the “Sierra Nevada Region” and its “subregions,” as specified, for these purposes. Status: SB 208 awaits consideration from the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. RCRC Status: Support

Senate Bill 252 (Wiener): Bears: take prohibition: Senate Bill 252 Would make it unlawful to hunt, trap, or otherwise take a bear of the genus Euarctos or the species Ursus americanus, except under specified circumstances, including under a depredation permit. The bill would authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt regulations to implement these provisions. The bill would remove the designation of game mammal for bears, thereby designating a bear as a nongame mammal, and would eliminate bear tags. Status: SB 252 awaits referral to a policy committee. RCRC Status: Oppose