Governor Signs Jackson’s Wildfire Prevention and Emergency Response Bills

September 21, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Following years of catastrophic wildfires in California including the devastating Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito debris flow, Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills today by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to prevent wildfires, enroll residents in emergency alerts, and help homeowners recover mudslide losses caused by fire. Jackson chairs the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and represents the region devastated by the Thomas Fire.

“As a result of our changing climate, California is facing year-round, increasingly destructive wildfire seasons. We must work together to ensure our communities are better prepared and take concrete action to reduce our risk of these destructive wildfires. I applaud the Governor for signing my legislation to help prevent wildfires, ensure community members receive timely emergency alerts, and protect residents whose homes have been damaged by fire-induced mudslides. Through thoughtful public policy and collaboration, we can help save lives and protect property following these emergency events,” said Senator Jackson.

Senate Bill 1260 (Jackson) improves California forest management practices to reduce the risk of wildfires in light of our changing climate. This landmark legislation clears the path for greater and more frequent wildfire fuel reduction and prescribed burns, sets air quality standards for prescribed burns, and allows California’s fire agency to provide input during the planning of new home construction in fire hazard areas.

Senate Bill 821 (Jackson) allows counties to automatically enroll every resident in a targeted emergency notification program, while preserving residents’ ability to opt-out of alerts. Many of California’s public warning systems have the ability to deliver notifications to residents based on the location of their homes, but require residents to sign up before they receive these critical cell phone and email alerts. When the Thomas fire broke out, fewer than 30 percent of residents had signed up to receive county cell phone and email alerts.

Senate Bill 917 (Jackson) clarifies that, under current law, an insurance policy covers loss or damage resulting from a mudslide or debris flow if the acts were attributable to a condition already covered by the policy, such as wildfires. The bill helps Montecito and other California homeowners whose home insurance coverage of mudslide losses may be unclear following a fire-induced mudslide. While most residents have fire insurance, far fewer have optional flood insurance.

SB 1260, SB 821 and SB 917 will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.