Sonoma County invests funds in climate resilience

Yesterday was a good day! I know you’ll read this about a week later, but the joy of the unanimous vote in favor of funding fire departments is still immediate to me. After years of advocating for the consolidation and funding of fire departments, I am delighted to report that on July 20, the Supervisory Board (BOS) unanimously approved funding of $ 7.9 million. for regional fire departments as well as additional measures to support and stabilize fire districts.

Key to all of this is one-time funding of up to $ 2 million for the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District (BBFPD) as it works on consolidation with the Sonoma County Fire District. In addition, the BOS voted $ 7.9 million for all consolidation efforts, including $ 3 million of standing funds earmarked for BBFPD consolidation. Other agencies listed to receive funds to facilitate amalgamations of fire agencies include: North Sonoma County Fire Protection District and CSA 40; Gold Ridge Fire Protection District and CSA 40; Sonoma County Fire District and CSA 40; Sonoma County Fire District and Bodega Bay Fire Protection District; and the Kenwood Fire Protection District. While this is an exciting victory for our fire and emergency services, more is needed. The BOS also asked staff to coordinate with the fire service working group to develop an outreach and fundraising plan to place wildfire prevention, emergency alert, and fire prevention action. Sonoma County intervention on the June 2022 poll.

I am also happy to share that a number of 5th District budget priorities were adopted as part of the 2021-2022 budget adopted on June 18. Highlights include:

● $ 350,000 for local chambers and reception centers to help the economic recovery as well as the programming of a fall workshop on sustainable financing for this important economic support network.

● $ 2 million in secure parking to meet the challenges of the RV and car camp.

● Investing $ 10 million in climate resilience of PG&E settlement funds. We not only need to face the disasters that have resulted from rapid climate change, but also work to reduce our carbon emissions and build a more sustainable Sonoma County to address the long-term systemic problem that creates these threats.

The 2021-2022 budget also includes $ 350,000 for a study and mapping analysis to identify areas of concern in Sonoma County given new or foreseeable Maximum Total Daily Load (TMDL) requirements, and to examine the Special districts meeting these needs could be created. or modified to allow for the management and support of community wastewater needs, including, but not limited to, transportation and sewage treatment, individual and shared septic tanks, and alternative wastewater treatment technologies. waste. The study will include a community engagement component to assess the level of support and / or concerns expressed by communities and individuals regarding the various wastewater management alternatives identified.

We have also worked hard to secure more resources for vegetation management. There are a number of funding projects that focus on vegetation management, from community initiatives to residential initiatives.

In June, Council approved $ 3.7 million in PG&E funds for 20 vegetation management projects in Sonoma County. Among the applicants, a further 7 projects in the Russian River area were conditionally approved pending completion of the pending project design and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) work. In July, the BOS approved $ 300,000 from PG&E settlement funds to enable Sonoma to work with leading community organizations to address issues with the California Environmental Quality Act Vegetation Management Project ( CEQA). In addition, $ 300,000 has been set aside to fund two Senior Environmental Specialists for additional assistance to support the resolution of issues related to the CEQA Vegetation Management Project. Once this groundwork is done for these projects, up to $ 3M of funds from the next Community Vegetation Management Grant allocation for these vegetation management projects from leading community organizations will be allocated. . These grants will focus on the lower Russian River and the Bohemian Corridor.

I have also worked with county staff to find ways to provide funds to homeowners to strengthen the defensible space around their homes and overall vegetation management. A pilot project has opened in limited areas called SoCo Adapts. This program provides a free fire inspection, then provides recommendations on necessary mitigation measures, and finally provides a FEMA funding application process to reimburse homeowners for a portion of the cost. In June, the county received a $ 37 million federal grant under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program. The first step of this funding will go to an 18-month planning phase led by Permit Sonoma to work with tribal, local, state and federal partners to coordinate agencies working to reduce risk and fight wildfires. Following this planning stage, FEMA funds will be used in part to finance an expansion of the SoCoAdapts program. While this funding is an issue, I encourage you to get your free inspection and start working on the vegetation management and home hardening aspects that you can do right now. A neighborhood and a neighborhood are only safe when we all do the work to protect ourselves from fires!

Supervisor Lynda Hopkins represents the fifth geographically large and economically diverse district of Sonoma County. Its region includes the rugged and beautiful coastline of Sonoma County, the redwoods of the lower Russian River, numerous unincorporated rural villages, the town of Sebastopol, and the southwestern part of the town of Santa Rosa. Lynda’s education focused on land use and public policy, and her professional life included stints in community journalism and organic farming before taking office. Along with her husband Emmett, Lynda is raising two daughters who are the fourth generation to pick apples from their Gravenstein apple trees on the property that is now Foggy River Farm.

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