The Barbed Wire - October 2, 2020

October 2, 2020
Updates on Congressional Efforts to Provide a Second COVID-19 Relief Package
Bill of the Week: Governor Signs AB 2421 (Quirk)— Telecommunications Streamlining Permits
Hometown California Podcast Provides Nonpartisan Insight for Voters in Several Election-Related Episodes
California Wildfires – Emergency Declarations
Fair Funding — Update from State Food and Ag
Governor Announces Third Round of Homekey Awards and Request for Additional Funding
RCRC’s Positions on Upcoming Statewide Ballot Measures
Tourism Industry Urges Responsible and Respectful Travel to Aid in Economic Recovery

Updates on Congressional Efforts to Provide a Second COVID-19 Relief Package

On Monday, Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled a scaled-back $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, a last-ditch effort to strike a bipartisan deal before the election. The updated HEROES Act, $1.2 trillion less than the original bill passed by the House in May, includes $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments, an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans, and money to restore $600 expanded unemployment payments through January and funding to shore up the census and the U.S. Postal Service.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met for the first time in nearly two months as they attempted to reach an agreement ahead of the General Election. The House was expected to vote on a $2.2 trillion proposal on Wednesday night, but only hours beforehand, Democratic leadership scrapped the plans as Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin attempted to craft a deal. The obstacles remain the same ones that derailed talks several weeks ago: 1) the size and scope of any package; and 2) funding for state and local governments, which Democrats are adamant about including and most Republicans remain skeptical.

In the updated HEROES Act, States would receive $238 billion based on a state’s share of unemployed workers. Local governments would receive $179 billion, evenly divided between municipalities and counties:

  • $89.5 billion to municipalities using a modified CDBG formula:
    • $62.65 billion for entitlement municipalities (generally defined as those with populations of at least 50,000).
    • $26.85 billion for non-entitlement municipalities (generally defined as those with populations of less than 50,000). These funds will be awarded to states, which must make awards to non-entitlement cities based solely on population within 30 days of receipt.
  • $89.5 billion to counties based on population.

Additionally, the bill expands the use of CARES Act funds, originally distributed in March, to cover lost, delayed, or decreased revenue stemming from the COVID public health emergency and extends the date of expenditure for CARES funds to December 31, 2021.

Also, despite significant pushback from Republican lawmakers who criticized the inclusion of language to address the financial services needs of the cannabis industry, the text of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was again inserted into the updated HEROES Act. The previous and much larger version of the HEROES Act which was approved in May contained the SAFE proposal. Republicans had previously insisted that SAFE Bankings’ inclusion was merely part of an expansive Democratic wish list of items not related to the health crisis.

Late Thursday night, negotiations between the Trump Administration and House Democrats collapsed; subsequently, House Democrats proceeded with a vote on their new proposal. The measure narrowly passed the House as there were no Republicans supporting the package and a handful of Democrats failed to support it. It remains doubtful that an agreement to provide additional aid can be reached in both Houses of the Congress prior to the election.

The text of revised version of The Heroes Act is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. Additional information on the state and local relief provisions is here.

Bill of the Week: Governor Signs AB 2421 (Quirk)— Telecommunications Streamlining Permits

This week Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2421, authored by Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), which will set forth a streamlined local permitting process for siting back-up power generators on macro cellular tower sites.

Specifically, AB 2421 provides that siting an emergency standby generator is subject only to a ministerial permitting process provided that 1) it meets specified standards, and 2) is being proposed at an existing permitted macro cell tower site.  Additionally, a local agency that receives a permit application to install an emergency standby generator is required to approve or deny the application with 60 days of submittal of the application will be deemed approved.  The provisions of AB 2421 will go into effect January 1, 2021 and are scheduled to sunset January 1, 2024.

RCRC staff worked with Assemblymember Quirk’s office throughout the legislative session to ensure that the expedited permitting process preserved important local government review of health and safety requirements.  This year has brought new rolling power black outs as well as Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.  These two events as well as unprecedented wildfires reiterates the systemic infrastructure weaknesses that exist in both the electricity grid and the telecommunication systems.  RCRC supported AB 2421 and believes the streamlined permitting process will assist to expeditiously deploy back-up power generation to cell towers to mitigate loss of wireless communication services during a power outage.

RCRC’s signature request letter can be accessed here. For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine, RCRC Legislative Advocate, at (916) 447-4806 or

Hometown California Podcast Provides Nonpartisan Insight for Voters in Several Election-Related Episodes

As sample ballots arrive in mailboxes across California, many voters wonder where to turn for nonpartisan information that can help them wade through the decisions facing them on the November ballot. With a recent series covering the twelve ballot measures, and another discussing the 2020 National Election, RCRC’s Hometown California podcast is a resource voters can use.

The 2020 National Election

Looking at a map of the Electoral College, Episode 8 dares to ask the question, “Can Donald Trump hold on to the White House?” After that, the discussion shifts to the battle for the U.S. Senate. Listen to Episode 9 for a look at the politics of the nation and key races in California, where control of the Senate hangs in the balance. The discussion concludes in Episode 10 with an examination of key races for open seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Discussion of several key races in California and intriguing questions will give listeners a sense of national and state battlegrounds as we head toward Election Day 2020. Subscribe today so you don’t miss the upcoming Election Check-in with Leah Askarinam of the National Journal to see what might have shifted since these interviews originally took place.

California Ballot Measures

For a nonpartisan look at the twelve ballot measures to be decided by California voters this November, as well as the impact on rural counties, catch up with Episode 5 (Propositions 14-18) and Episode 6 (Propositions 19-25).

If you have enjoyed these episodes, help spread the word about Hometown California so others can listen too!

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California Wildfires – Emergency Declarations

On Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris sent a letter to President Trump in support of Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for a major disaster declaration for California. This is the second time this fire season that the Governor has asked President Trump for a presidential major disaster declaration to help fight wildfires scorching much of the state. The presidential disaster declaration would help free up emergency federal funds to aid state and local firefighters battling nearly 30 fires burning across all parts of the state.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Federal Insurance Office Director Steven E. Seitz requesting a report on the effects of increased wildfire risk on private insurance markets, which is making insurance unaffordable for an increasing number of Californians. The letter asks for recommendations to make sure that home, business and commercial property insurance covering wildfire-related losses remains available and affordable.

In the House, Representative Josh Harder (D- Stanislaus) on Tuesday introduced the Wildfire Smoke Relief Act in response to dangerous air quality levels across the state. The bill would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help people who are at high risk of health complications from wildfire smoke to smoke-proof their homes and provide temporary emergency housing outside of smokey areas.

Fair Funding — Update from State Food and Ag

In recent communications with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), it was shared that it has begun the distribution of funding to all classes of District Agricultural Associations (commonly known as “fairs”). This involves the 2020-21 fair distribution allocations from two sources” 1) the General Fund base allocation ($2.7 million statewide); and 2) $9.3 million from the AB 1499 New Fair Funds (Assembly Bill 1499-Gray, 2017).

AB 1499, strongly supported by RCRC, requires a portion of the state sales tax proceeds derived on fair properties to be returned to fairs for a variety of projects. Allocations are by class size and while base allocations follow the current model, New Fair Funds include additional metrics for distribution that include both fair size and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns. Fair management is being asked to submit resolutions adopted by their Boards requesting the approval for these funds. In addition, fair managers are being requested to affirm that Board members have met all reporting and training obligations required of those serving on state entities.

An updated list of those fairs that have received funds, to date, should be available soon. Contracts were going out to fairs over the last week. All fairs in the network are set to get an allocation.

Grant agreements and the scope of work specific to new fair funds are currently being prepared for distribution. The grant agreements for the New Fairs Funds are expected to have a start date in October 2020 with an end date of June 30, 2021. Also, Executive Order N-40-20 suspending workforce conditions is still in place; however, if the Executive Order ends prior to the end date of the grant agreement, the fair will need to implement the required workforce conditions. Details are available here.

Although there is much uncertainty about the total amount of the New Fair Funds for FY 2020/21, the availability for the first distribution of $5.7 million has been confirmed. Any additional funds identified under AB 1499 Funds will be communicated once that information becomes readily available. Please contact John Quiroz via email at with questions.

Governor Announces Third Round of Homekey Awards and Request for Additional Funding

On Monday, Governor Newsom announced the third round of awards for Project Homekey, a program administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that provides grant funding 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. More than $137 million was awarded in this round for 19 projects in 15 California communities, including several RCRC member counties.

  • Del Norte County has been awarded $2.8 million to convert an existing thirty-unit motel into interim housing by the end of the year, and permanent housing by July 2021 in partnership with the Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation.
  • Humboldt County has been awarded $4.3 million to convert a motel into forty-eight permanent supportive housing units, with six of those units providing recuperative care to individuals requiring medical care after exiting hospitalization.
  • Lake County has been awarded $3.38 million for Hope Center to serve up to twenty homeless individuals as they prepare for permanent housing placement.
  • Sutter County has been awarded $6.8 million, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter, to acquire a hotel with sixty-two one-bedroom units for permanent housing.
  • Tehama County has been awarded $2.34 million to acquire a property that will prevent the loss of ten existing units and add an additional six units. Located on an operating farm, residents will receive job training.

Other awards impacting RCRC member counites include:

  • The award of $1.24 million to the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians for the rehabilitation of a ten-unit multifamily residential property which will become permanent housing, just north of Lakeport, in Lake County.
  • The award of $4.14 million to the Mariposa Health and Human Services Agency for the purchase of a twenty-seven room hotel that the county has been operating for several months, focused on serving seniors and people under 65 with a disability.
  • The award of $5.2 million to the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency for the purchase a forty-five room motel. Most units will serve as a shelter for individuals at risk from COVID-19, with remaining units converted into permanent supportive housing.

Of the $600 million allocated for Project Homekey, $449.9 has now been awarded. Additional awards are expected weekly until all $600 million has been awarded. However, this week, Governor Newsom asked the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to approve an additional $200 in Coronavirus Relief Funding for Homekey which, if approved, would provide local governments with a total of $800 million under Homekey.

Resources are available for jurisdictions developing spending plans for Homekey funds. This summer, the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council released a Guide to Strategic Uses of Key State and Federal Funds to Reduce Homelessness During the COVID-19 Pandemic. They also produced a short 29 minute Strategic Funding Guide Webinar that walks through the different elements of the guide, how to use it, and recommendations for grantees and local governments developing their own spending plans. Detailed information about Project Homekey is available on the HCD website here.

RCRC’s Positions on Upcoming Statewide Ballot Measures

The RCRC Board of Directors has considered and adopted positions on nine of the 12 statewide ballot measures. They are:

Proposition 15: The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act (Split Roll) – OPPOSE

Requires Non-Residential Real Property to Be Reassessed Once-Every-Three-Years

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted an “Oppose” position on Proposition 15. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 16: Repeal of Proposition 209 of 1996 – SUPPORT

Repeals the enactment of Proposition 209 of 1996, which Prohibited Affirmative Action in Public Contracts, Public University/College Admissions and Government Hiring

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “Support” position on Proposition 16. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 17: Voting Rights of Convicted Felons – OPPOSE

Provides for the Restoration of Voting Rights Upon Completion of a Prison Term for the Conviction of a Felony

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted an “Oppose” position on Proposition 17. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 18: Age of Voting – NEUTRAL

Allows 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primaries if They Become 18 by the Time of the General Election

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “Neutral” position on Proposition 18. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 19: The Home Protection For Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire Disasters Act – OPPOSE

Provides for a Liberalization of Property Tax Base Transfers and Inherited Property

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted an “Oppose” position on Proposition 19. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 20: Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act – SUPPORT

Reclassifies a Number of Misdemeanors to Felonies and Revises the Terms of Release from Incarceration

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “Support” position on Proposition 20. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 21: Rental Affordability Act – NO POSITION

Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “No Position” position on Proposition 21.  The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 22: Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act – NO POSITION

Revises Employment Classification Rules for App-Based Transportation and Delivery Drivers

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “No Position” position on Proposition 22. The memo can be accessed here.


Proposition 25: Senate Bill 10 – Bail Reform Referendum – NO POSITION

Repeals Senate Bill 10 which Eliminates the Cash-Bail Scheme and Replaces it with Pre-Trial Risk Assessments

The RCRC Board of Directors adopted a “No Position” position on Proposition 25.  The memo can be accessed here.


The RCRC Board of Directors did not consider three remaining statewide ballot measures They are:


Proposition 14: California Stem Cell Research, Treatments, and Cures Initiative of 2020 Act

Authorizes $5.5 Billion in Bonds to Continue Funding Stem Cell and Other Medical Research


Proposition 23: Protect the Lives of Dialysis Patients Act

Imposes Various Requirements on the Operations of Dialysis Facilities


Proposition 24: The California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act

Strengthens Financial Penalties for Violating Consumer Privacy Laws


For a nonpartisan review of each of the 12 statewide ballot measures, as well as the impact on rural counties, please listen to RCRC’s Hometown California podcast, where RCRC Senior Vice President Governmental Affairs, Paul A. Smith, speaks with Jeremy B. White of Politico. Overview of Propositions 14-18 can be downloaded here, and Propositions 19-25 can be downloaded here.

Tourism Industry Urges Responsible and Respectful Travel to Aid in Economic Recovery

As some Californians choose to cautiously venture outside amid closures and restrictions due to COVID-19, travel patterns have shifted and highlight the need for visitors to show respect toward local communities.

Tourism is a huge economic driver across California, responsible in 2019 for $144.9 billion in visitor spending, 1.2 million jobs and $12.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Continued reinforcement of safe and responsible behavior principles will help revive California’s tourism industry, and our state, which is estimated to have lost more than $72.1 billion in visitor spending, 613,000 tourism jobs and more than $6 billion in state and local tax revenue this year alone.

During these challenging times, Visit California continues to work on initiatives to inspire community support and begin safe and responsible travel when the time is right. Their new Responsible Travel Hub offers tips and strategies for those ready to travel, emphasizing safety and respect for fellow travelers, and provides clear, fact-based information and resources for visiting California beaches, restaurants, hotels and parks, in addition to information about California airports and renting a vehicle.

Travel matters to California will help propel economic recovery as businesses and destinations start re-opening. Read more on the tourism industry’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and the benefits of travel and tourism to California’s economy.


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

Career Opportunities- Calaveras County Health and Human Services Agency

Calaveras Public Health is looking to fill several positions. Check out these job opportunities to make a difference in the community:

These positions close on October 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.


CPUC to Hold Public Forum on Frontier Communications Bankruptcy

On Wednesday, October 7th, the CPUC is holding two public meetings on Frontier Communication’s bankruptcy application, a process that must undergo CPUC approval. One workshop will be held from 10am to 4:30pm (see here) to discuss the bankruptcy proceeding, and a public forum will be held in the evening from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for public comment, see here. The CPUC is specifically requesting input from the public and Frontier customers and would like to know the following:

  • Your experience with Frontier's services and service terms
  • Knowledge of other service providers offering service where you live or work
  • Experience with services from these other service providers
  • Concerns with your ability to access emergency services
  • Suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for resolving concerns, difficulties, hardship, etc.
  • Potential impact to your communities
  • Type of information that the Commission should consider in assessing Frontier's long-term viability
  • Information regarding successes and/or failures with other restructuring deals and their impact to customers/the public after 1-3 years

Public input will help the CPUC determine whether Frontier's request for a transfer of control is in the public's interest, and what, if any, conditions should be included. Written public comments may also be submitted at any time here. For more information on this issue, please see here.


CARB to Host Regulatory Training for Public Agencies

The California Air Resources Board will be hosting a  compliance overview of the Truck and Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment on October 8, 2020. Course topics include the following:

Truck and Bus Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Engine Model Year Schedule
  • Exemptions & Extensions
  • How to Report for Regulation Flexibilities
  • Broker and Dispatcher Requirements
  • DMV Registration

Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP):

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Program Updates

In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Requirements Currently in Effect
  • Future Compliance Deadlines

Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) & Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM):

  • PERP Eligibility
  • Program Requirements
  • ATCM Program & Updates
  • Enforcement & Inspections

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


DWR Update on the Delta Conveyence Project Validation Action

In August, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a “validation action” with the Sacramento County Superior Court regarding DWR’s authority to, among other things, issue revenue bonds to finance the planning, design, construction and other capital costs of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. Since the original filing, the court has issued a summons and a public notice is now available. These documents and the validation complaint can be found here.

The Department seeks a judgment confirming the validity of revenue bonds the Department authorized to pay for the environmental review, planning and design, and if approved and subject to the specific conditions precedent, construction of Delta conveyance facilities. The Department is not seeking in the validation proceeding a determination that it has complied with all legal prerequisites that may apply to approval and/or implementation of any Delta conveyance facility.

Any interested person may appear and contest a validation action, subject to specific time limits and procedural requirements. In the Department’s validation proceeding, interested persons must appear, in conformance with applicable legal and procedural requirements, not later than October 30, 2020.


HCD Announces Help for Those Affected by Northern California Wildfires in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties

On August 22, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the White House approved California's request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state's emergency response to wildfires burning in Northern California and support impacted residents in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties.

This declaration helps people in those counties through support and services that includes:

  • Crisis counseling
  • Housing and unemployment assistance
  • Legal services

If you sustained losses from the Northern California fires in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, or Yolo Counties, you can now apply for assistance.

To begin the process:

  1. Apply online with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) OR
  2. Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY).

HCD encourages the use of online applications whenever possible. For additional information and important details, see the entire HCD announcement here.



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

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

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


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event. We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources. CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.


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