Laguna Beach, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 109 into law on September 27, allocating $1M in funding to the City of Laguna Beach for fuel modification efforts.
“The City of Laguna Beach worked closely with Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris to secure this $1 million appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 State Budget for much-needed fuel modification work in Laguna Beach,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “Our number one priority as a City is to reduce our current level of high fire risk and exposure to wildfires. This funding is a tremendous help to those efforts.”
Nearly all of the City of Laguna Beach and its surrounding 16,000 acres of open space are designated by CalFire as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. This designation underscores the significant risk in the City and recognizes the loss of 441 structures due to wildfire in 1993. The only two roads in and out of the community – Pacific Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road – are both located in the wildfire hazard zone, threatening evacuation routes and access for emergency responders in a wildfire event.
“Over seventy-percent of our Laguna Beach neighbors live in a High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, and we’re working to mitigate this risk,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Chair of the Accountability & Administrative Review Committee. “I am proud to have partnered with Mayor Whalen to secure $1 million in state funds to protect lives, property and our community.”
“Given the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires in the state, the City of Laguna Beach needs to be proactive in mitigating our wildfire-related risks and preventing fire-related air pollution,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. “This funding will help us do both.”
In July, the Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved a Fire Mitigation and Safety Subcommittee Report and approved moving forward with its recommended action items, including additional programs, mitigation measures, staffing and equipment needed to reduce the current level of high fire risk and exposure to wildfires in Laguna Beach, and action items needed to further protect the City in the event of a wildfire. A detailed copy of the Subcommittee’s report can be found at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/pw/wildfire_mitigation_and_fire_safety.htmThe report includes identifying new grants and revenue sources and pursuing additional funding to achieve these measures.
“One-hundred percent of the credit for this funding goes to Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris. Without her leadership we would not have received this funding. In her first year in Sacramento she has done an outstanding job of directing state resources to benefit the cities in her district,” Whalen said. “We are grateful to her and Governor Newsom for their dedication in making wildfire mitigation and prevention in Laguna Beach a top priority. This show of support bolsters our fire mitigation efforts significantly.”
The $1 million allocated by Governor Newsom for fuel modification in Laguna Beach also reflects recommendations made in the Governor’s Strike Force Report released in June. Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention and Response is a key area of focus in the report, and builds upon a $1 billion wildfire and emergency investment in the state budget. In July, the Governor signed a Catastrophic Wildfire and Safety Bill, further moving the state toward a safer, more reliable and affordable energy future. Newsom signed a series of bills into law recently aimed at improving California’s wildfire prevention, mitigation and response efforts.
The state funding allocated for fuel modification work in Laguna Beach will be distributed through the State of California Natural Resources Agency.