On Thomas Fire Anniversary, Jackson Introduces Bill to Continue Work Improving Emergency Alerts

December 04, 2018

SACRAMENTO –On the first anniversary of the Thomas fire and in the wake of the most destructive and deadly wildfires in California history, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced legislation today to continue her work strengthening emergency notifications in the state.

Senate Bill 46 allows cities and universities to automatically enroll residents in emergency alerts while preserving their ability to opt-out, permits local governments to collect residents’ contact information from wireless providers, and allows local governments to identify residents with access and functional needs for the purpose of sending them specialized emergency alerts.

The bill addresses flaws identified in the state’s emergency alert systems during the November 27th hearing hosted by the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and the Assembly Select Committee on Natural Disaster Response, Recovery and Rebuilding, On the Alert: Strengthening California’s Public Warning Systems.

“The devastating wildfires that ravaged communities throughout our state have made it clear that we must improve our emergency alert systems to ensure residents are getting the information they need as quickly as possible. And as we learned in the recent Camp fire, we must do a better job reaching seniors and residents with mobility challenges,” said Senator Jackson. “But these emergency response improvements must be made in conjunction with thoughtful fire prevention and mitigation policies. Climate change is real, we are experiencing the impacts of it now, and we have to take action to address this new abnormal.”

Earlier this year, Senator Jackson authored SB 821, which was signed into law by Governor Brown and goes into effect on January 1, 2019. The bill allows counties to automatically enroll residents in emergency notifications, while preserving their ability to opt out of receiving the alerts. SB 46 expands the program to cities and universities. Jackson also authored fire prevention legislation going into effect on January 1, 2019, including SB 1260 to allow for more prescribed burns to reduce wildfire fuels and SB 465 to help homeowners pay for fire-resistant improvements to their homes before a fire strikes.

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