Assemblymember Jim Wood’s First Bill of Year Responds to Wildfire Crisis

Monday, December 3, 2018

SACRAMENTO—Today, the first day of the 2019-20 legislative session, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) introduced AB 38 to respond to devastation caused by the severity of California’s wildfires.

“We must confront this issue head on to make sure our policy reflects the increasing crisis of climate change and do everything we can to protect Californians and our communities from the wreckage that has resulted from these fires,” said Wood.

AB 38 will create a state Community Fire Preparedness Council to step up the pace and broaden the scale of California’s fire preparedness. This council will be responsible for reviewing and approving community wildfire protection plans; developing best practices for emergency alert and evacuation procedures; creating and executing statewide fire preparedness public education campaigns and promoting, organizing and supporting community fire evacuation drills. This bill will also create regional Community Fire Preparedness Councils in higher-fire severity zones so that they can respond to specific local needs including developing community wildfire protection plans, developing vegetation management ordinances, performing defensible space inspections on both public and private land and providing education and technical assistance for landowners and residents to improve fire safety.

The bill will also create the state’s Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan Fund of $1 billion to be used for no- or low-interest loans for homeowners to replace or install items such as ember-resistant vents, install fire-resistant roofing and siding or use the funds to create a noncombustible zone three feet around homes or remove trees within 100 feet of a home.

And finally, AB 38 will require the state Community Fire Preparedness Council to develop a list of construction features that must be retrofitted, or built into new construction, in high and very high fire severity zones including features such as fire-resistant roofing and siding, vent screens and any other feature the council deems critical for home protection. These features, once approved, would be required for all homes and commercial buildings beginning January 1, 2024.

“I have argued for a long time that the billions of dollars California spends to diminish greenhouse gases can be wiped out by one wildfire,” said Wood. “Let’s spend some of that money saving lives and property by preventing the damage caused by these fires in the first place.”

“One life lost, one home burned or one community devastated by wildfires, is one too many,” said Wood, “and if there’s something I can do about it, I’ll go to the ends of the earth to do it.”

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Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.