The Barbed Wire - March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020
WIR Conference Gathering Cancelled - Stay Tuned for Alternative Dates
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1191 (Dahle) – Organic Waste Reduction Goals
Federal Aid Package Approved in Response to Coronavirus
RCRC Urges CORTAC Entities to Remit Property Taxes Before April 10th Deadline
CalPERS Continues Service Amidst Coronavirus Impact
CPUC Directs Utilities to Improve Information Sharing with Local Governments to Facilitate PSPS Planning and Resiliency Projects
RCRC Submits Comments to California Public Utilities Commission for Communication Resiliency Prior to Fire Season
Coronavirus Not a Threat to California’s Water Supply

WIR Conference Gathering Cancelled - Stay Tuned for Alternative Dates

Due to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across the nation, after painstakingly thorough consideration, the 2020 National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Western Interstate Region (WIR) Conference scheduled to take place at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, has been cancelled. The letter from WIR President, Supervisor Kevin Cann of Mariposa County, to the WIR Board of Directors may be viewed here.

A tremendous program was planned, and the conference team is exploring alternative options for members to utilize, including the possibility of the 2021 Conference being held in California. We encourage you to keep the WIR conference dates on your calendar. And, please plan to participate in virtual meetings and upcoming WIR workshops that may be offered as a partial replacement for Mariposa County in 2020.

For the latest WIR Conference updates, click here.

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1191 (Dahle) – Organic Waste Reduction Goals

RCRC is proud to sponsor Senate Bill 1191, authored by Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber). Among other things, SB 1191 would allow low population counties (13 counties with between 70,000 and 250,000 residents) and rural jurisdictions (those 19 counties with a population under 70,000 residents and the cities within those counties) to develop and implement alternative organic waste management programs in place of the Senate Bill 1383 of 2016’s ambitious mandates.

Specifically, SB 1191 would:

  • Require the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to consider whether a jurisdiction made a “good faith” effort to implement its recycling program before issuing a compliance order or imposing penalties;
  • Temporarily allow rural jurisdictions and low population counties to implement alternative organic waste management programs; and,
  • Provide exemption for residential and small commercial generators below 4,500’ in elevation where nearby bear populations pose a risk to public safety.

For more detail on SB 1191, RCRC’s support letter can be accessed here. SB 1191 awaits consideration in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. For more information, John Kennedy, Legislative Advocate, can be reached at (916) 447-4806 or

Federal Aid Package Approved in Response to Coronavirus

Today, Congress approved and President Trump signed into law an aid package in response to the nationwide/worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The approved legislation infuses essential funding, and includes solutions designed to provide temporary relief throughout this crisis for: 1) state and local governments; 2) healthcare, education, and essential services; 3) businesses large and small; and 4) individuals.

In the next few days, highlights, particularly as the package impacts small counties and rural residents, will be prepared by RCRC’s federal affairs advocates under the direction of Sheryl Cohen of ACG. That analysis should be forthcoming early next week.

RCRC Urges CORTAC Entities to Remit Property Taxes Before April 10th Deadline

Earlier this week, RCRC joined other county advocacy partners to call upon CoreLogic and Lereta to be leaders of CORTAC entities by remitting 2nd installment property taxes prior to the April 10th deadline. Property tax payments to counties are critical to the continuance of urgent services being provided by local agencies on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, along with our municipal partners, RCRC urged Governor Newsom to retain the property tax deadline, highlighting the reliance of nearly all local agencies on property tax receipts for municipal services. The letter to Governor Newsom can be read here.

CORTAC entities have already accumulated, from homeowners who pay through a monthly mortgage impound account, the total amount of property taxes due to California’s counties. The payments are due before the April 10th deadline, and if remitted, will provide an immediate influx of property tax revenue during this time of heightened need for services.

The letter from RCRC, the California State Association of Counties, the Urban Counties of California, and the Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors can be read here.

CalPERS Continues Service Amidst Coronavirus Impact

In a letter to stakeholders earlier this week, Marcie Frost, Chief Executive Officer of PERS, provided updates about the activities of CalPERS and the agency’s preparedness to weather these challenging times created by the coronavirus (COVID-19).The full letter is available here. Highlights include:

  • All April 1 retirement checks will be paid on time.
  • The Contact Center remains open and fully operational, although the Sacramento headquarters and regional offices are closed.
  • Costs and fees for testing for COVID-19 are waived for all CalPERS health members.
  • CalPERS is positioned to mitigate risks and capitalize on investment opportunities during this time of economic uncertainty.
  • The April Board and committee meetings are still on schedule for April 20-22. Video conference and teleconference solutions are being worked on, depending on the status of the stay-at-home order at that time.
  • A webinar for employer partners will be scheduled in the next two weeks to help answer questions about impacts to the fund.

Ongoing updates and Frequently Asked Questions are available on the CalPERS website here.

CPUC Directs Utilities to Improve Information Sharing with Local Governments to Facilitate PSPS Planning and Resiliency Projects

As part of the ongoing Microgrids Proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission directed to PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric to undertake several actions to facilitate and expedite community resilience projects to reduce the impacts of future public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events. In particular, the CPUC directed those utilities to:

  • Take preliminary actions to create a dedicated team of staff to manage the intake of local government resiliency projects and provide a single point of contact for local governments to receive pre-application consulting services.
  • Provide information to local government agencies to enable those jurisdictions to effectuate emergency plans or engage with local governments to provide technical support for local government power resiliency projects. This could include:
    • Developing better internal processes to interact with local and tribal governments.
    • Informing local and tribal governments about utility transmission and distribution investments and operational plans that help minimize the use and duration of PSPS events.
    • Holding face-to-face workshops to educate local jurisdictions on electric transmission and distribution infrastructure serving their communities.
    • Developing a resiliency project management guide to show how to engage with the utility on resiliency projects and developing best practices for successful project implementation.
    • Providing detailed historical PSPS outage data to local and tribal governments to help identify resiliency project development opportunities.

Taken as a whole, these directives are expected to improve local government access to utility infrastructure and outage information to facilitate better planning and to expedite local power resiliency projects, including microgrids.

Click these links to access the CPUC letters to PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric.

RCRC Submits Comments to California Public Utilities Commission for Communication Resiliency Prior to Fire Season

On Thursday, RCRC submitted comprehensive comments to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Emergency Disaster Relief Program Rulemaking. The CPUC is considering requirements for communication service providers (such as AT&T and Verizon) to maintain resilient and dependable networks during power outages, including minimum levels of service during de-energization events like access to 9-1-1.

RCRC advocated for comprehensive system resiliency, in addition to backup power capabilities during a power outage, to ensure the integrity of local emergency management, response, and overall public safety. The CPUC intends to establish resiliency rules for communication service providers prior to Summer 2020. The CPUC proposal can be found here, and RCRC comments can be accessed here.

Coronavirus Not a Threat to California’s Water Supply

The State Water Resource Control Board has released a factsheet explaining that California’s water is safe and the existing drinking water safety rules and regulations protect against a wide-spectrum of potential safety risks, including viruses like the coronavirus (COVID-19). A Spanish language version of the factsheet is also available.

Also, earlier this week the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) spoke with Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center advisory Council, about the state’s municipal water supply in light of the ongoing pandemic. ACWA, one of RCRC’s local government partners, is a statewide association whose 450 local public water agency members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. The PPIC article is available here.


Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Public Comment Period Extended

Due to ongoing health and safety concerns, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is extending its original Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) public comment periods by 30 days. The new deadlines are May 15, 2020, and June 3, 2020.

DWR encourages public comment on recently submitted plans that show how local water agencies plan to manage groundwater basins for long-term sustainability. Comments can be posted online on the DWR SGMA Portal and a SGMA Portal account is not necessary.

Information about how to comment on a plan can be found in fact sheets in English and Spanish. For questions, email


CPUC Seeks Volunteers for Home Internet Study

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in partnership with the Geographical Information Center (GIC) at the California State University, Chico, and the California State University, Monterey Bay, are seeking volunteers to take part in the first statewide effort to collect quality measurements of local broadband speeds utilizing the new CalSPEED Home Measurement Device.

The CPUC will use data gathered to provide critical information to state policymakers interested in broadband issues, such as universal service and the closing the digital divide. This information can also be utilized to provide money saving information to consumers.

Interested volunteers can sign up by completing a survey, which can be accessed here.


Fish and Game Commission Proposes Public Use Changes to Wildlife Areas, Public Lands, and Ecological Reserves

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) is a Gubernatorially-appointed body with regulatory authority over the state’s public lands and wildlife conservation. In January, the Commission released a regulatory proposal to make public use changes to California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s lands, including designating recently acquired lands and removing properties the Department no longer possesses or manages.

The proposal includes designating one property as a wildlife area, seven properties as ecological reserves, and making other site-specific changes that generally impact public access and/or public safety on these managed lands in various RCRC member counties, including Inyo, Mono, San Luis Obispo, Napa and Sonoma counties.

The Commission held one public hearing on this proposal in February, and will hold another at its April 16th hearing at 8am in Sacramento to accept comments orally or in writing.


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.


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.


Federal Disaster Loan Assistance Available from the Small Business Administration

Applications are now being accepted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for federal disaster loans to help alleviate economic injury caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). All fifty-eight (58) California counties are designated as eligible. To apply, please visit SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance portal here.