Nevada County supervisors recognize environmental justice, climate change as safety hazards |

Nevada County supervisors recognize environmental justice, climate change as safety hazards

John Orona
Staff Writer

Nevada County will now address environmental justice and climate change mitigation as potential hazards after the Board of Supervisors this week updated the safety element of its general plan to include those risk categories.

According to the California Department of Environmental Protection, environmental justice calls for fairness in developing laws and regulations that affect a community’s natural surrounding, regardless of race, color, national origin or income.

While most environmental justice goals and policies concern the lack of resources available to disadvantaged communities — whether based on geographic, socioeconomic, or public and environmental heath disadvantages, which lead to negative impacts — they also aim to address the lack of positive impacts from certain land uses, amenities and social and physical infrastructure.

One policy the county adopted to address these inequities is to ensure emergency preparedness efforts consider vulnerable populations like senior centers, day care facilities, latch key kids, people with mobility difficulties and health care facilities. The county also adopted a policy to ensure all educational materials about public emergency operations are available in formats understandable to non-English speakers.

According to the document, climate change may exacerbate natural hazards Nevada County faces and could result in increased frequency, duration and intensity of extreme heat events; diminished water supply due to less snowpack; more frequent and extensive flooding; increased wildfire danger; and adverse impacts on agriculture including reduced crop yields and forest resources.

The plan calls for using the recently adopted Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and county energy action plan as guidelines for policies and goals that will mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Other risk categories identified in the safety element include emergency preparedness, geological hazards and seismic activity, flood hazards, airport and military airspace hazards, hazardous material and mining hazards, public safety services and facilities, fire hazards and protection, and severe weather hazards.

Most other updates to the safety element were minor but include revisions and additions to the Dam Failure and Wildland Fire sections, including a list of dams in Nevada County that have a high or extremely high hazard rating and a list of vulnerabilities from PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs.

The safety element was last updated in 2014 and was required by state law to be reworked after the county’s housing element was updated. Since its last update, the 2015 Senate Bill 379 and 2016’s Senate Bill 1000, respectively, required the identification of risks associated with climate change and mandated environmental justice policies and goals be integrated into elements of the General Plan.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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