Saturday’s Letters to the Editor
Insurance sticker shock
EDITOR: I read that a farmer is getting $500 for beef cattle it costs him $1,000 to raise. After the Glass fire, my wife and I are getting $500 per thousand board feet for Douglas fir trees that burned. The cost of raising this timber and subsequent slash cleanup was far beyond $1,000 per thousand board feet. We shopped to rebuild our damaged structures. I was aghast at what we had to pay for finished lumber (even nails, bolts, paint).
Now our fire insurance company, Nationwide, canceled us because we are in a high fire risk area. Not anymore. Our premiums increased by 332% for our home and four rentals. The new plan is the insurer of last resort — the California FAIR Plan. Guess who owns it? The group of insurance companies that is canceling people. Something smells fishy.
To whom does Gov. Gavin Newsom’s price gouging rules apply? It appears only landlords. This will set up a very inequitable situation. Individuals who have the FAIR plan will have to raise rents. This will not only be a large burden to homeowners, but totally unfair to renters.
We need some help from our legislators, and we certainly need a new insurance commissioner who understands the seriousness of the situation.
EDITOR: George Skelton’s Jan. 15 column said a single-payer universal health care bill in California was unlikely to pass because it would require a huge tax hike that taxpayers would never endorse (“California universal health plan is a long shot”). What Skelton failed to mention was how much people are already paying for health care.
My wife and I, a retired couple, pay between us nearly $10,500 annually for Medicare Part B and Part D premiums. On top of that, we pay our supplemental and dental insurance premiums and our deductibles and copays. Add it all up and I calculate we’re paying about $17,000 a year for health care.
I’m sure that’s more than the tax we would pay to fund a single-payer statewide system, which would replace all those expenses. The politicians pushing this proposal have got to get across to the public that, when you look at the whole picture, this will be a huge cost savings for families in California.
And that’s not to mention how nice it would be to live without the stress of paperwork, filing claims, paying bills, etc. If other countries can do this, so can California, and lead the way in America.
EDITOR: The West County Union High School District board needs to take responsibility and look in a mirror. The superintendent works for the board, so trying to focus problems on the superintendent is deflecting responsibility. Bringing in a new superintendent will cost much-needed money, and it will create more confusion. Try solving problems before creating them and really listen and talk to people involved, such as parents, staff, and students. When you involve and prepare people, changes should move smoothly.
Where is the paper?
EDITOR: Cloverdale proposes low-income housing at the southern end of town. The Press Democrat interviews neighbors opposed to the project and even prints multiple photos of them standing around the property. The Cloverdale City Council says its hands are tied, the issue has been decided at the state level, and the project will be built.
Compare this to the power grab by the Sebastopol City Council to rid themselves of the homeless mess on Morris Street by moving it a mile up the highway. No interviews by The Press Democrat, no pictures, no in-depth story about what will soon become a major problem for Sebastopol. A lawsuit is pending to stop this project. Where is The Press Democrat?
Undercutting fire safety
EDITOR: A recent article noted that a third of Sonoma County’s 495,000 residents live in areas where wildland fuels intermix with homes and structures — many in west county (“Sonoma County needs public input on wildfire plan,” pressdemocrat.com). So, it would seem the minimum fire safety regulations the state Board of Forestry revised in December would be of interest to county residents.
Twenty-one senior fire professionals sent a critical letter to the Board of Forestry, saying among other things that the revised fire safety road regulations will encourage commercial and other “development in high fire-prone areas and increase the risk to lives and property during wildfire evacuations.”
One of the changes considered unsafe by the fire experts is reduction of the 20-foot road width standard to 14 feet, except for very large developments. How can 9-foot-wide firefighting equipment pass 6-foot-wide passenger vehicles evacuating on a 14-foot-wide road? Dead end road, length of one-way street limitations and most turnaround requirements have been removed.
We need to ask the Board of Forestry to increase the 15-day comment period for these regulations to make the process more transparent, allowing Cal Fire and other fire experts to weigh in further.
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