2019: County Continues to Make Significant Strides
With the end of the year upon us, Bob and I would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Years! This coming year will mark the end of my first term as your Supervisor – and what a year it has been.
Some of the biggest issues that have faced us this year include threats of wildfire, the availability and affordability of homeowners’ insurance, homelessness, affordable housing and cannabis.
I am pleased to report that the County has continued to make significant strides in each of these areas, including launching the first-ever Nevada County Cannabis Compliance Division, hosting a joint town hall meeting with Insurance Commissioner Lara, working with the Housing Authority in securing funding for the Lone Oak Senior Affordable Housing Project in Penn Valley, and launching ReadyNevadaCounty.org on wildfire preparedness and response.
In my first term, I have had the wonderful opportunity of engaging the entire community on these and other issues on a day-to-day basis. I also thank County staff who have been amazing for me. It has been a real transition and I couldn’t have done it without their guidance and support. I am very excited as we move into the New Year, as I know there is so much more good work to be done.
I am also excited about the upcoming Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce 12th Annual Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday January 14th at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be in the community room at the Penn Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, 17645 Penn Valley Drive.
This event is not to be missed. Attendees will get to hear from a panel of speakers on some of the hot topics facing the Penn Valley Area, including a County update from myself. Folks should get there early at around 6 p.m. to mix and mingle with neighbors before the meeting begins.
That being said, I would like to give a holiday thank you to an important community leader and friend, Mike Mastrodonato. Mike is the President of the Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and works tirelessly to promote and work with our local businesses.
Mike is also the current Chair of the Penn Valley Area Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) and works with his fellow MAC members to review and provide input on land use and development projects to help our Planning Department staff, Planning Commission and myself become more informed about the community’s concerns or perspective on any given project or issue that goes before the MAC.
Last, but not least, I encourage you to consider shopping as local as you can this holiday season. Many business owners in our community were hit hard by the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events that have rattled our community.
On November 5, 2019, the Board authorized the Chair to send a joint Letter of Concern with the Cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) outlining our concern over the impacts of the PSPS events.
The CPUC is the state agency directed to regulate PG&E and other Investor Owned Utilities. In the letter, County staff estimated that “In the cities of Nevada City and Grass Valley and the unincorporated area of Penn Valley, 332 full-service food facilities (sit-down meals/fast food establishments) adhere to specific guidelines prior to reopening to the public after each PSPS event.
The aggregate average daily impact to these food service business owners is estimated to be around $398,400 with $1,195,200 in loss for a three-day PSPS event. Locally-owned grocery stores are hard-hit, with inventory loss in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in perishable food products in addition to lost sales revenue. These long-standing locally-owned businesses are less equipped to absorb such extraordinary financial losses than their corporate competitors.
Many businesses are non-operational from indirect impacts like school closures, loss of internet to process credit card transactions, gas shortages, infrastructure capacity stresses and loss of communication services. A recent survey of small, locally-owned retail businesses in the City of Grass Valley found losses were as high as $5,000 to $10,000 for a 2-day event, with many reporting losses as financially significant.
And with over 43,000 customers (households) affected in our County alone, the Board requested regulatory action to: 1) Ensure cellular and landline communication services are maintained throughout every PSPS event to mitigate impacts on public safety; 2) Provide amenities and better coordinate special need provisions to vulnerable populations and healthcare service providers for each PSPS event; 3) Ensure timely and adequate notices are provided to community stakeholders to mitigate undue financial hardship to the local economy’ and 4) Ensure regulatory guidance that promotes targeted, localized PSPS events that prevent unnecessary wide ranging impacts.
The County strongly urged the CPUC to work with local communities to develop PSPS best management practices that balance wildfire precautionary efforts with public safety and economic impacts. The County will continue to monitor the progress of the CPUC investigation into recent PSPS events and ensure utilities are held accountable for their actions during these events.
County residents are encouraged to submit feedback to the CPUC at email@example.com noting number R.18-12-005. Please include specific economic, emotional, educational and physical impacts. Note your address and phone service provider if your phone connection was negatively affected.
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