Governor talks wildfire preparedness, rural broadband in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Governor talks wildfire preparedness, rural broadband in Grass Valley

California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke to the League of California Cities board of directors, including Jan Arbuckle, president of the league, on Friday morning in Grass Valley.
Photo by John Hart

Gov. Gavin Newsom stepped out of a League of California Cities meeting held Friday in Grass Valley, aides shepherding him nearby.

He’d spoken to league members on issues central to rural communities like homelessness and wildfire preparedness. Big picture, as Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout called it.

Joking that he was out of place wearing a suit, Newsom paused after the meeting to discuss those issues with the media.

“Trust me. I get it,” he said of skyrocketing fire insurance costs. “It’s one of many issues that concern us.”

Newsom referred to a comprehensive report, which he expects within two months, that will include the issue of fire insurance. He noted insurance for his family’s home in Dutch Flat has jumped to $5,000 from about half that.

The governor also said he wants to create a summit that will focus on emergency planning — a gathering that will bring communities together to address wildfire concerns.

Newsom said afterward that a “deep dive” is required to examine technology issues, as well as concerns about system inoperability and a move from analog to digital some communities face.

“I deeply appreciate the concern,” Newsom said.

As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom said his technology concerns led him to hardwire World War II sirens.

“When all else fails, we can communicate with the public,” he added.

Newsom said rural counties face different challenges than their urban counterparts. He called it important to visit those rural areas, where he regularly hears about housing and homelessness.

According to Newsom, 47 cities are out of compliance with state housing laws. He noted his office’s lawsuit against Huntington Beach, which claims it’s not complying with those rules.

“Our kids can’t afford to live here,” Newsom said.

Fielding a question about rural broadband, the governor said his administration is exploring an aggressive agenda. He said officials have been discussing it for two decades with few results.

“It’s like an applause line for politicians,” he added. “We’ve got to get serious about it.”

Newsom’s comments came after the closed league meeting, which lasted over an hour.

Swarthout said the governor spoke to league members about issues important to California, like funding for affordable housing and wildfire prevention.

“Grass Valley is very pleased the governor took his time to speak to the League of Cities,” Swarthout said. “I think he likes this area a lot.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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