Governor Vetoes Assemblyman Obernolte’s Bill To Fast-Track Fire Safety Escape Routes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Assemblyman Obernolte (R-Hesperia) announced his disappointment that Governor Newsom vetoed his bill to streamline urgent safety projects in high-risk fire areas with insufficient egress (exit) routes.

“I am astonished and extremely disappointed that Governor Newsom has vetoed my fire safety bill. As we enter into our high-risk fire season, we need to ensure that residents who live in fire-prone communities can leave quickly and safely. Unfortunately during the deadly fire in Paradise last year, many residents were trapped due to the lack of sufficient exit routes. That is unacceptable,” Assemblyman Obernolte said.

“I find it baffling that the Governor calls this bill ‘premature’ when California has seen a tremendous escalation in both deaths and loss of property due to the devastating wildfires over the last several years. The fact that the Governor did not see this life-saving measure as a priority is stunning. This bill would have accelerated the implementation of the most critical fire safety projects by adding exit routes to prevent more destruction and more importantly to save lives.”

California has seen record numbers of wildfires in the past few years, causing mass devastation to its residents. In 2017 and 2018 alone there were over 13,000 wildfires which burned almost 1.4 million acres of the state. Additionally, according to census data California leads the nation when it comes to people living in high-risk fire areas with 2,044,800 households at high or extreme risk from wildfires. Texas is a distant second with 715, 300 households.

Assembly Bill 394 would have exempted from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) narrowly defined projects recommended by the Board of Forestry that improve safety in fire-prone subdivisions identified as lacking sufficient egress routes.

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte represents the 33rd Assembly District, which includes the San Bernardino County communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Baker, Barstow, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Big River, Crestline, Fort Irwin, Hesperia, Johnson Valley, Lake Arrowhead, Lenwood, Lucerne Valley, Needles, Oak Hills, Phelan, Running Springs, Silver Lakes, Trona, Twentynine Palms Base, Twin Peaks and Victorville.

Simone Graham – Editor High Desert Gazette

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