wildfire

More Conservation Things to Do

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

I have a list of items that will be occupying my time this spring, and here I will simply go through them in order.

Fire Recovery and Preparedness Guide

There have been three updates. One is that, as the state office is writing a statewide manual separate from my effort, it seems that some of our thoughts about how to update the original manual are converging, and this is probably a good thing. I’ll be happy if they solve some of the issues I’ve encountered so that I can copy more than I create.

The second issue is that FEMA recently published an interesting report about all the ways it has failed to create a civilian culture of emergency preparedness in the U.S. (reported in: http://www.govtech.com/em/preparedness/Report-Weve-Failed-Miserably-at-Preparedness.html).  This is the same issue I commented on last month with my critique of the Ready Set Go booklet that San Diego County uses.  Some of FEMA’s recommendations are to realize that there’s a lot of diversity in people’s circumstances, that many of them actually already know something about preparing for emergencies, and that there’s a need to listen to these people, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all program from the top down. That’s one reason I’m still working on a local fire recovery book, even if there’s a statewide version. We need things that fit us. Feel free to pitch in if you’ve got some good homebrewed strategies for fire recovery or evacuation.

Got Some Fire Pictures You Want to Share?

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

It’s lovely to be still writing this in the rain, but a hot, dry summer could lead to a fiery fall. Hopefully, that will not happen.

Still, I am spearheading an effort to create a San Diego Fire Recovery and Preparation Guide.  It is based, in large part, on the CNPS Fire Recovery Guide that was produced after the 2017 Wine Country fires. While that document is freely available in pdf now, we do need a more local version for our area.

To that end, I’m looking for pictures that people are willing to share in our version of this book. You will get credit, and you would only be giving permission for use of that picture in this one publication.  Sorry, we can’t pay for images.  If you are interested, contact me at conservation@cnpssd.org.

Sprawl, Fire, Water: More Fun for 2019

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

To continue the theme of last month’s news update, here’s where we are as of the middle of January when I wrote this.

County Climate Action Plan

At Christmas, an appellate court judge threw out the County Climate Action Plan version 3.0. Several days later, the County appealed, on a 3-2 split decision (Supervisors Jacob and Fletcher dissenting). The appeal will go to the California Supreme Court. If this follows the previous five rulings or so, the County will lose, but this will take months to play out.

My concern is whether the County decides to pass the other batched developments from last year in the interim. They all to my knowledge depend on the CAP, so if the County approves them, they would be struck down if the judge rules against the CAP. Possibly there would be penalties for the County to presume about judicial rulings. While approving these developments now seems silly to me, there’s a certain streak of doubling down in at least two of the Supervisors, so I don’t know if they’ll go for it or not. Depending on what the County does, we may have to step up our efforts to oppose Lilac Hills Ranch and Otay Ranch Village 14.

The 2019-2020 Forecast

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

Looking back, the January 2018 column was titled “Can San Diego Grow Up,” a thought piece on the problem of densification versus sprawl in San Diego County. One year later, sprawl is winning, although that might not be true by the time you read this column, due to a possible court ruling on the County Climate Action Plan (CAP) on December 21, 2018. 

So going forward, what conservation issues will be important in 2019? 

The Electrical Grid Knot in California

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

Until a few minutes ago (this would be a month ago, for you), I thought I was writing the last appeal for dealing with Otay Ranch Village 14, Lilac Hills Village Ranch, Warner Springs, ad nauseum. Fortunately, the County decided to not to go ahead with the last grand General Plan Amendment. Yay(!)(?), but that might be a while.

Anyway, since I spent a few days up in the Santa Monica Mountains with my mom, ready to help her evacuate if necessary (it wasn’t), I’ve got a few thoughts about this little problem we have with electrical utilities.

The problem we’ve got is that electrical utility companies like PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) seem to be responsible for some big fires. SDG&E, as we know, is still trying to get its ratepayers to cover some of the costs of the 2007 Cedar Fire, which it has been held responsible for. Southern California Edison’s (SCE) equipment may have sparked both the Woolsey Fire and the Thomas Fire, while PG&E is implicated as the cause of the Camp Fire, as well as 16 of the 18 fires that hit the Wine Country last fall. Note that, aside from the Cedar Fire, this is all speculation based on news reporting around the incidents. There are official reports and lawsuits still pending, and they’ll settle questions of official responsibility sometime in the future.

Into the Hot Part of the Year

By Frank Landis, Chairperson Conservation Committee

Yes, I’m aware that the worst San Diego heat-waves are typically in June and July, and hopefully we’re done with that. All we have to worry about are the fall fires. And politics. And the politics and science of fires.

By the time you read this, I suspect that the County Supervisors will have approved their first General PlanAmendment Bundle (GPA), since they’re hearing it onJuly 25. This one bundles Harmony Grove Village South, Valiano, and Otay Village 250. The first two appear to be the most controversial, primarily because of fire issues.

Unfortunately, the County seems hell-bent on ignoring its general plan and bargains made with communities about where to put dense growth and where not to grow. Instead, they appear to be following the old political aphorism that you shouldn’t let a good crisis goto waste when it comes to making money.