The Barbed Wire - July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020
RCRC’s New Podcast Hometown California - Available Now for Download
Bill of the Week: SB 474 (Stern)- Development Prohibition in Fire Zones (UPDATED)
U.S. Senate Republicans Poised to Unveil COVID Relief Package
Land and Water Conservation Fund Legislation Headed to President Trump’s Desk
Coronavirus Funding for Fairs Introduced in Congress
Update on Cannabis Banking

RCRC’s New Podcast Hometown California - Available Now for Download

Hometown California, RCRC’s exciting new podcast series, launched this week. Hometown California tells the rural story through the eyes of those who live, work, and play in the rural communities of California.

In the first episode, our host, Paul A. Smith of RCRC, chats with Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel who currently serves as the Chair of the Rural County Representatives of California. McDaniel shares how, as a teenager from Illinois, he found himself in rural California and eventually elected to a seat on the Merced County Board of Supervisors. Listen in to hear his story and what it has been like to lead an association of the state’s 37 rural counties during a worldwide pandemic.

Find Hometown California in your favorite podcast app and subscribe today so you do not miss a single episode.

Bill of the Week: SB 474 (Stern)- Development Prohibition in Fire Zones (UPDATED)

Senate Bill 474, authored by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) is not being pursued this year. The bill, as recently amended, would have prohibited all commercial and residential development in Very High Fire Hazards Severity Zones (VHFHSZ) and State Responsibility Areas (SRA). Representatives with Senator Stern’s office confirmed the bill will not be set or heard in policy committee. More information on this bill, as well as RCRC’s letter of opposition, can be found in a previous Barbed Wire article here.

For more information, contact Tracy Rhine, RCRC Legislative Advocate at (916) 447-4806 or

U.S. Senate Republicans Poised to Unveil COVID Relief Package

After rumors indicated that Republicans in the U.S. Senate were to release a coronavirus relief package this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has now said he intends to unveil the bill on Monday, pointing to the White House as the reason behind the delay. During a Senate floor speech on Thursday, McConnell stated, "the administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week. We have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package.” Despite the lack of official bill text, top-line funding figures and key provisions have been trickling out of Congressional offices throughout the week. While not final, the GOP package is expected to:

  • Extend the end date that states and localities can use $150 billion in “Coronavirus Relief Funds” from the CARES Act from December 30, 2020, to 90 after the last day of a government’s fiscal year 2021.
  • Expand allowable uses of funds to cover revenue shortfalls, the period of which you can cover is March 1st, 2020 to the last day of the government’s fiscal year 2021.
    • Conditions for that money include a requirement that the government has to distribute as least 50% of the money it has received to downstream governments.
    • Recipients also cannot use funds for pensions and post-employment benefits or for replenishing rainy-day funds.
    • Recipients cannot oppose additional restrictions on downstream governments for the disbursement of funds.

The Senate GOP’s proposed legislation is also likely to: provide a new round of direct payments to Americans, but with lower income restrictions; include liability protections for schools and businesses; designate funds to upgrade state-level coronavirus testing capacity; provide additional Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses; allow monies for schools as they seek to restart operations; and a provision to provide flexibility for the use of state aid.

The delay and differences within some Republican ranks has given way for Democrats to push for their $3 trillion spending bill – the HEROES Act – which was passed in mid-May by the House of Representatives. The HEROES Act contains a very significant amount of monies to be directed to local governments, among other provisions.

Click here for a full summary of the expected provisions in the package.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Legislation Headed to President Trump’s Desk

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 1957) by a large bipartisan vote of 310-107. The bill now goes to the White House where President Trump has signaled his support – in March he tweeted praise for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The ideas at the core of the Great American Outdoors Act — providing mandatory annual funding of $900 million to the LWCF and offering billions toward fixing the nation’s crumbling parks and public lands — have been debated in Congress for years. But similar legislative efforts have failed to gain traction until President Trump withdrew his opposition as a means of sending support to two endangered GOP senators - Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Steve Daines (R-Montana). Other lawmakers have credited the legislation’s success to the groundwork built by its supporters in the House of Representatives, who relied on the fact that public lands are broadly popular across political parties and that the LWCF contributes to projects in every congressional district.

Coronavirus Funding for Fairs Introduced in Congress

On Thursday, Representative Josh Harder (D-Stanislaus) announced an effort to secure federal funding for the state’s beleaguered fairs. Noting the “challenges of running fairs during the pandemic and resulting revenue loss”, Representative Harder introduced the “Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act” and noted that in a typical year fairs generate approximately $3.5 billion in revenue and provides nearly $200 million in tax revenue for local and state governments. His legislation is designed to provide financial support to fairs dealing with the COVID-related havoc on fair budgets. Representative Harder’s recent press release on the introduction of the Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act is available here.

In the same vein, Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey) is planning to introduce a similar measure at the behest of the national fair representatives.

Both Congressional bills are designed as grant programs to be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture directly to applicant fairs. The measures differ in size: Representative Harder’s proposal would provide $5 billion, while Mr. Panetta’s measure is a more modest “ask” of $200 million. Both authors are hoping to persuade their colleagues, including Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris, to include the provisions of their respective measures in the next round of the COVID-related relief funding package.

Update on Cannabis Banking

Advocates continue to push for the cannabis banking bill to be included in the Senate's next coronavirus (COVID-19) package; however the prospects of inclusion are not looking favorable. According to a report by Politico, Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said that he has not been involved in any conversations about including the cannabis banking bill in the next Senate COVID-19 aid package, “I have not been engaged in direct discussions about it…I don't want to create the impression that that's happening.” Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), the SAFE Banking Act’s lead sponsor, also said he did not know if it would be included in the next COVID-19 relief bill and was not sure if it is the best vehicle for cannabis banking. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), another co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, stated the Senate’s priorities are elsewhere, “I just don't know that there's the political will yet to get [cannabis banking] onto anything.” This COVID-19 package is likely the last legislative opportunity for the banking bill to pass this year, since elections are looming and there are a limited number of days left for legislating.


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

Pivoting during COVID-19: Using CARES CRF funding to serve at-risk cohorts and reopen your county for business

County health departments have had to quickly pivot in the face of COVID-19 challenges, providing intense care and guidance to all residents, while continuing to serve the needs of homeless individuals and others in need. During the global pandemic, IBM has been working with counties (Sonoma, San Diego, and Orange) to utilize technology to provide greater levels of care for at-risk populations impacted by the virus, thus reducing community spread and allowing for a safer, faster re-opening of local economies.

On Wednesday, July 29 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., engage in a webinar hosted by a team from IBM to hear how CARES CRF funding can be used to provide counties with digital tools to best serve populations most at-risk of COVID-19. Participate in the webinar to learn how your county can more efficiently and effectively deliver necessary social services with digital tools.

Join the webinar here or pre-register today and receive a calendar invite. Note: A desktop computer is required to register.
Webinar password: rcrc2020

If you have questions, email Rohan Batra of IBM or call 415-545-8774 for assistance.


GO-Biz Hosting Webinars for Businesses Interested in Applying for $80 Million in Tax Credits

The next California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) application period starts Monday, July 27, 2020, with $80 million in available tax credits. Businesses interested in applying can register to view a live webinar explaining the application process.

The deadline to submit applications is Monday, August 17, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) and the online application website will automatically close once this deadline has passed. The online application can be accessed starting July 27, 2020, at

Complete List of Upcoming Webinars

July 29, 2020
Details and Registration

August 6, 2020
Details and Registration

August 11, 2020
Details and Registration

Members of the CCTC team are available to provide technical application assistance ( / 916-322-4051). An application guide, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), program regulations, and a downloadable version of the webinar presentation are available here.


CPUC Local Governments Survey Ends Today

In an effort to improve the quality of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC’s) engagement with local governments and their associated communities, the CPUC is requesting feedback to assess the quality of their outreach and engagement experiences. To participate, please submit your responses here by July 24, 2020.


Department of Conservation SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program Workshops Announced

The Department of Conservation will host two workshops to answer potential applicants’ questions about the SGMA Watershed Coordinator Program application. Both workshops are open to all interested applicants and will cover the same content. Please RSVP to to register.

  • Application Workshop – August 6, 2020
    When: 2:30 – 3:30pm
    Where: Microsoft Teams (please RSVP for link)
  • Application Workshop – August 11, 2020
    When: 1:00 – 2:00pm
    Where: Microsoft Teams (please RSVP for link)

Information about the program can be found hereApplications are due by 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2020. A solicitation and application has been posted here.

Please contact Department of Conservation watershed program staff with questions or comments via email at or phone at (916) 324-0850.


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.


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.

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.


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 consultation. Priority Applications are due by August 13, 2020 and all applications are due by September 29, 2020. Attend the Homekey Webinar on July 24, 2020 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (register now) or visit the Homekey webpage to learn more.


Career Opportunities

  • Tehama County Seeks Director of Public Works

Tehama County is inviting applications for the position of Director of Public Works. The application deadline has been extended to August 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. To apply or for more information, details are available as a PDF or online here

  • 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.

  • SRTA Seeks Chief Fiscal Officer

Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) is seeking a Chief Fiscal Officer. Position details are available here. The position is open until filled. See the SRTA website for updates and submission information.


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.


PG&E Weekly Public Webinars on Wildfire Safety and PSPS Mitigation Efforts

PG&E is holding weekly public webinars at which it will provide information on local Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) and wildfire safety efforts, including how it will make PSPS events smaller in size and shorter in duration, efforts to install new grid technology and harden electrical infrastructure, and enhanced vegetation management activities.

Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Webinars have taken place for many counties. The remaining webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • July 29 – San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties  (join webinar here)
  • August 5 – Tulare, Madera, and Fresno Counties  (join webinar here)
  • August 12 – All-Customer Webinar (join webinar here)
  • August 19 – All-Customer Webinar (join webinar here)

See a full schedule, find information to join a webinar by phone, or view past presentations here.


COVID-Related Extensions Possible on CDBG Annual Performance Reports

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced that the State Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for non-entitlement jurisdictions requires all CDBG Recipients to submit Annual Performance Reports (APRs) documenting any activity that occurred during fiscal year 2019/2020. The reporting period covers July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. APR documents must be completed and submitted via email to by Friday, July 31, 2020. If the deadline can’t be met due to circumstances caused by COVID-19, please email Francisco Arnaiz outlining the reasons for requesting an extension and the date you expect to submit the report. Additional details are available in the HCD announcement 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. This meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Several factors led to this difficult decision, most notably, current and future state and local government guidelines. 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.

  • 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.