SACRAMENTO, CA – AB 1772, AB 2380, and AB 2518, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), were signed by Governor Brown today. In October 2017, California experienced the most devastating wildfire in state history. 44 Californian lives were claimed, and more than 14,700 homes and 728 businesses were damaged or destroyed, totaling over $12 billion worth of damage. Wildfires of this magnitude pollute the air and wipe out gains we make reducing California’s carbon footprint. These three bills came about in the aftermath of those devastating fires that destroyed so much of our state and affected many families and communities in Assembly District 4.
“Four of my counties – Lake, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma – were on fire last October. For many, it wasn’t the first time,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry. “It breaks my heart to think about the magnitude of loss families across California are experiencing due to fires. These bills will ensure that California is better prepared to prevent future wildfires, combat them when they do occur, and recover in the aftermath.”
AB 1772 extends the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from 2 to 3 years after a declared wildfire emergency and receive the full replacement cost they paid for in their policy.
“Extending the time a consumer has to recoup their losses after a devastating fire will minimize stressful battles with insurance companies and bring families greater peace of mind,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I’d like to thank Governor Brown for signing this bill and Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for championing this bill to help fire survivors.”
AB 2380 requires the state to develop standards and regulations for privately contracted fire personnel during active fire emergencies. Confusion about whether these contractors are first responders can lead to the assumption by members of the public that they are safe. And, the presence of such personnel in evacuated zones not only risks their safety, but creates the possibility that public personnel might have to rescue them if they are overwhelmed by wildfires.
“The increase of wildfires has put more members of the public at risk than ever before,” said Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters. “During the now year-round wildfire season, it’s important that a member of the public —in distress— doesn’t become confused and seek emergency services from a privately contracted resource that doesn’t have the medical or rescue skills necessary to provide aid. We thank Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for her leadership on AB 2380, which establishes common sense standards that balance the rights of property owners with the broader interest of statewide public safety.”
AB 2518 requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to explore markets for innovative forest products and mass timber, consistent with the state’s climate objectives. A major contributor to the state’s wildfires is the rise of overly dense forests. Finding uses for wood will promote environmentally safe and clean uses for forest waste. These initiatives will incentivize private investment in forest health, which is necessary to protect our natural resources, and public health and safety, as well as spur rural economic development.
“Healthy forests provide clean air, clean water, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, and recreation. Our forests are in crisis and Californians are at unprecedented risk of wildfire disaster,” said Jay Ziegler, The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Policy & External Affairs. “Assembly Bill 2518 recognizes California must do more to reduce fire risk and ensure long-term forest health by increasing private investment in forest restoration. This bill will expand the existing wood products market to include innovative timber products that utilize small diameter trees. The Nature Conservancy thanks Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for her leadership to address forest health.”
“Wildfires in California aren’t going away, and we have to do everything possible to both prevent them and make the state more resilient when they occur,” said Aguiar-Curry. “I’ve tried to take a holistic approach to fire prevention and relief for fire victims. This package of bills moves us forward toward that goal, and I am glad to see that the Governor agrees.”
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.