The following letter was sent to the California State Senate Rules Committee on January 18 to express concern about SB 50.
Dear Committee Chair Toni G. Atkins, Vice-Chair Scott Wilk and members Patricia C. Bates, Bill Monning and Richard D. Roth:
Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) since 1973 has been the voice of the community and the most broad-based organization in Pacific Palisades—a community of about 25,000 located in the wildland-urban interface between the coast and the Santa Monica mountains within the City of Los Angeles (City). The community of Brentwood (also in the wildland-urban interface within the City) is adjacent and located to our east.
PPCC is on record as strongly opposing SB 50. At the same time, we agree with the general goal of addressing the state’s affordable housing and climate challenges as well as the suggestion that lawmakers should “continue conversations” about how best to achieve this goal (as Senator Atkins recently expressed). However, the new amendments to SB 50 highlight one area of immediate and significant concern for Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, additional hillside areas of the City and other similarly-situated areas of the state (including many fire-prone communities within each of your own districts):
Lack of VHFHSZ Exemption
Pacific Palisades is located entirely within the Cal Fire Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ), as is most of Brentwood. Residents of both of our communities were recently under mandatory evacuation orders during the dangerous 2019 Getty fire, and many Palisades residents were also required to evacuate during the Palisades fire in 2019. PPCC and Brentwood Community Council (BCC) are extremely concerned, on public safety grounds, about the lack of a clear exemption in SB 50 for all parcels within the VHFHSZ. We have communicated our concerns to our elected state officials as well as Sen. Wiener. To our knowledge, these concerns have also been brought to the attention of Sen. Wiener by our Senator Ben Allen. Unfortunately, to date these significant and well-grounded concerns have not been addressed. See: pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PPCC-BCC-SB50-Letter.pdf.
Of course, the prospect of evacuation catastrophes during wildfire events—and increased risk to the public as a result of the greater density mandated by SB 50—is not limited to Pacific Palisades and Brentwood. The Los Angeles Fire Department warns: “The fire service has learned from incidents such as the Oakland Hills fire and the Cedar fire that citizens becoming trapped in their vehicles, while evacuating, can lead to a catastrophic situation.”
We respectfully urge the members of the Rules Committee to vote “No” on SB 50 as currently worded, and/or to decline to send SB 50 for a floor vote without an amendment to provide for a clear and unambiguous exemption from the bill’s up-zoning mandates, without exception, for all VHFHSZ parcels.
Thank you for your consideration.
David Card, Vice-Chair
Christina Spitz, Secretary
Pacific Palisades Community Council
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