State officials declared states of emergency in parts of California due to earthquakes, winter storms, wildfires, and explosions in 2010.
On January 21, 2010, acting Governor Attorney General Brown proclaimed a state of emergency due to the severe winter storms which caused damage in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco and Siskiyou. On January 22, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency in San Bernardino County due to a series of winter storms and on January 27th, the Governor ordered a state of emergency in Calaveras and Imperial Counties due to damage caused by these storms. On February 11th, the Governor requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government. In March, the President signed the declaration making state and local agencies as well as certain private nonprofit organizations in these counties eligible for federal reimbursement for costs related to the implementation of emergency protective measures, debris removal and the repair and restoration of public facilities damaged by the severe storms, flooding, mudslides and mudflows. It was estimated that the reimbursement by the federal government at $92 million.
On May 3, 2010, the Governor issued Executive Order 5-07-10 to mobilize the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to secure and display additional resources and personnel to boost state wildfire preparedness and resources. During the wildfire season the State experienced a loss of 45,662 acres in the counties of Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Tulare, and Yuba.
On June 6th, the Governor launched the first-in-the-nation Disaster Corps to professionalize and coordinate highly-trained disaster volunteers statewide. These volunteers are registered by their local government organization under the Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program and have to meet Disaster Corps training, typing, certification and security screening guidelines. In addition to the Disaster Corps, CaliforniaVolunteers launched the Disaster Volunteer Resource Inventory, a statewide web-based information technology tool to coordinate and support public, private and nonprofit volunteer programs. The inventory will maintain individual contact information, as well as training history, deployment history and availability, credentialing information, language skills and other pertinent information.
On January 9, 2010, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake occurred in Humboldt County and on April 4, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred in Imperial County which caused the Governor to proclaim states of emergency for these counties. On September 29th, in San Bruno, San Mateo County a 30-inch steel natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company exploded causing a fire resulting in eight fatalities, 60 persons injured and a destruction of 37 homes, among many others with varying degrees of damage. On September 10th, acting Governor Abel Maldonado proclaimed a state of emergency making the explosion a state disaster. The estimated damage to homes and vehicles is over $55 million. The Governor on September 15th requested a federal disaster declaration be made concerning San Bruno. United States Congresswoman Speier has requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare the explosion a national disaster area. Pacific Gas and Electric has indicated they would see to it that individuals’ homes will be replaced by them and pay for other damages associated with the explosion.
In response to the disasters which were declared state disaster areas, the following legislation was enacted to make them eligible for state reimbursement of local property tax losses, beneficial homeowners’ property tax exemption treatment and special “carry forward” treatment of excess disaster losses: AB 1662 (Portantino) provided disaster assistance for the 2009 Los Angeles and Monterey County wildfires and severe storms that occurred in the Counties of Calaveras, Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Kern, Placer, San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Siskiyou; AB 1690 (Chesbro) provided disaster assistance for losses occurred as a result of the Humboldt earthquake; AB 2136 (V. Manuel Perez) provided disaster assistance for losses occurred as a result of the Imperial earthquake; and AB 11 X6 (Hill) provided disaster relief assistance for losses occurred as a result of the San Bruno explosion.
Also, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, AB 347 (Bass) allowing an individual or a corporate taxpayer to deduct a charitable contribution made for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti that occurred on January 12, 2010, on the taxpayer’s 2009 tax return, instead of the 2010 tax return.
The Governor, however, vetoed SB 1205 (Corbett) which would have established, until January 1, 2030, the Bay Area Disaster Recovery Planning Council to create a long-term regional recovery plan that would have been implemented before and after an earthquake or other disaster occurs in the Bay Area. The Council would have developed the long-term regional recovery plan through cooperation with various stakeholders in the bay area, including, but not limited to, the cities, counties, special districts, school districts, emergency managers, hospitals, members of the public, private businesses, and nongovernmental organizations. The Governor in his veto message stated that “The California Emergency Management Agency is responsible for state emergency management programs under the California Disaster Assistance Act and the federal Stafford Act. Through extensive collaboration with Bay Area entities, key tools have already been produced to compliment emergency management strategies and disaster recovery principles and systems at both the state and federal level. This bill would establish a parallel or duplicate disaster planning organization and could divert the limited funding currently available for long-term disaster recovery. In addition, the Joint Exercise of Powers Act already allows ABAG [Association of Bay Area Governments] to address regional disaster planning.”