s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

This coming week, regional, state and business leaders from the public and private sectors will gather in Santa Rosa for the California Economic Summit to discuss economic opportunities for our state, as well as remedies for issues facing California. Of particular interest to me is the topic of building resiliency in the face of natural disasters such as the wildfires that devastated our community last year.

As chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, I look forward to leading a discussion on how we create sustainable, resilient communities up and down the state. Specifically, this involves the new Wildfire Safety Act, Senate Bill 465, which fits well into the agenda developed by Economic Summit co-conveners California Forward and the California Stewardship Network. The gathered leaders will be setting priorities for state and regional action on a number of fronts.

One of those fronts will focus on understanding the new wildfire law recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which grants broad access to much-needed, low-interest financing for fire preparedness. Now, more Californians can take steps to upgrade properties and use fire-resistant materials and designs that previously were cost-prohibitive to most homeowners.

An effective tool like this to help everyone be better prepared can only help our communities and our state overall. With environmental challenges on the rise throughout the state, preparedness is essential to strengthening California’s homes and businesses to protect valuable assets.

In 2017, wildfires cost California more than $500 million and dozens of lives. The destructive blazes show no sign of slowing, and the fires now burning in Butte and Ventura counties are the latest examples. The average area burned is expected to increase by 77 percent by the end of the century, according to a recent California Climate Change Assessment. During last year’s fires in Santa Rosa, 97 percent of the homes burned were built before homes included fire-resistant construction.

But these daunting statistics don’t have to become reality. By making affordable financing tools more accessible to all Californians, the new wildfire safety law puts Property Assessed Clean Energy financing squarely in front of those who want to be ready. PACE is one of the few programs homeowners can utilize to make wildfire safety improvements to their properties with long-term, fixed-cost financing options.

Created by the California Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, PACE helps state and local governments reach economic and environmental goals without impacting public budgets. With built-in consumer protections, PACE’s long-term financing structure makes energy and resiliency improvements more affordable and accessible than other types of home improvement financing, like costly credit cards and bank loans.

The increased availability of PACE financing for millions of Californians for energy efficiency, fire and natural disaster resiliency improvements comes at a critical time for the state, when broader, communitywide participation is necessary for the state to achieve its climate goals and prepare for deadly, destructive wildfires, floods and other natural disasters.

Creating sustainable, resilient communities throughout California must continue to be a priority, and finding ways for all Californians to participate and benefit from making energy and resiliency upgrades is a great start.

The California Economic Summit will take place Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Rosa. For information, go to summit.caeconomy.org

James Gore is chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

Show Comment