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How can we reduce the California fires?

Wildfire Prevention Policy

Impacts of California Wildfires

There have been 7,718 fire incidents in California in 2020, with an unthinkable 4 million total acres burned. There have been 6,177 structures damaged or destroyed and at least 20 fatalities as of September 17th. On September 6th, California surpassed the record for the worst year in history in terms of the amount of fire-damaged land. Families are distressed, struggling with water challenges, insurance payments, FEMA money and the rebuilding process while insurances are in jeopardy of non-renewal. We are starting to see some of the devastating effects of climate change in California with wildfires running rampant across the state. That’s why now more than ever, we need a climate-forward candidate who has a solid foundation for which we can lean on for solutions to this climate crisis.

Rishi's Plan

Climate change is the most urgent issue of our time. The science is clear: global temperatures continue to rise and the world is already experiencing not only increased wildfires, but more intense hurricanes, deadly heat waves, and droughts. Climate change has undoubtedly contributed to the recent surge in wildfires in California, and it will continue to worsen if we do not take immediate and drastic climate action. This is why I fully support the GND. America must reduce its carbon emissions to limit global warming and hinder the negative effects of extreme weather, and we can accomplish this while simultaneously creating millions of jobs. If we do not do something about climate change, the fires will become more prevalent and deadlier.

Over the past few months, I have seen the widespread, devastating effects of these wildfires, caused by the growing issue of climate change. Among my priorities would be to follow these examples and push for more funds for disaster and wildfire preparedness, forest management techniques, as well as a push for more community preparedness teams.

California Failed to Sufficiently Manage its Forests

In recent years, nearly 150 million trees died around the state as their roots delved fruitlessly for water and a devastating bark beetle infestation took hold. California will need to drastically expand its prescribed burning — and sustain the practice. Reducing the risk of fires often involves removing vegetation that can fuel fires. These trees can be converted into a renewable energy source and various products, such as paper and furniture. Responsibly removing dead trees for sale could lead to millions of dollars in vital funding for restoration efforts, such as planting trees.

Preventing Wildfires

  • Bolstering support for community preparedness efforts through the USFS, FEMA, and other agencies. This would allow officials to fund and implement projects to protect our communities. Several studies have shown that every dollar put towards disaster preparedness can help save $4 in disaster response costs. For wildfires, this ratio can be even higher. In Colorado, several million dollars went towards fire breaks and prescribed fires for almost ten years, which helped save over 1,400 homes — equivalent to $1 billion in property during a fire in 2018.
  • Impact of forest development needs to be thoroughly studied and risks identified. The fact is that more communities are being built around forests, that is altering their ecosystems. The federal government is already funding studies that provide insight on the impact of forest development. But we need an even more nuanced understanding about how to properly manage forests. This additional research could study the best ways to predict high-risk areas for wildfire and to better understand how climate change is shifting how wildfires behave. It could also lead to safeguards, such as alert systems that warn communities of encroaching fire. Ensuring that wildfire hazard mapping tools are frequently updated and publicly available so that people know their risks and so that crucial public safety information is easily accessible to all.
  • Put the ‘Fire Funding Fix’ to Good Use: Having to spend more to put out wildfires, the Forest Service has had less money available for wildfire prevention. In March 2018, a bipartisan effort promised some relief. The so-called “fire funding fix” created a fund just for wildfire suppression, beyond the original $1.4 billion budgeted for fighting wildfires. It starts at $2.25 billion in 2020 and ends in 2027 at $2.95 billion. To maximize this long-overdue shift, we recommend restoring the forests proactively, in part by removing dead trees and helping seedlings survive. Unfortunately, most of our forests can no longer heal themselves; they need more constant and careful management.
  • Build on Bedrock Environmental Laws: Bedrock policies like the Endangered Species Act provide critical backstops for ecosystems at risk, including forests. With climate change on track to make wildfires worse, the need is greater than ever for more funding and flexibility to address urgent needs quickly and effectively. With this level of commitment, we can create forests and ecosystems that thrive.

Rep. Eshoo is weak on fire policies

Rep. Eshoo has a weak history on climate change. Much of Rep. Eshoo’s work on climate change has not made a real impact. Below we give you some examples.
Rep. Eshoo has condemned President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, but she hasn't done much to impact climate change on a national scale. In 28 years in Congress, her track record consists of

  • passing a bipartisan carbon pricing bill
  • the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act (using efficient technology for the federal government) in 2019
  • and the Electric CARS act (extending tax credits to help consumers purchase electric vehicles) in 2019; too little, too late.
  • In September 2020, Rep. Eshoo voted in favor of HR 4447, But this bill increased federal subsidies for fossil fuels. I would not have supported it. Other progressive politicians like Ro Khanna did not either. Rep. Eshoo’s vote was wrong.

California is burning today and we needed an urgent, results-driven agenda. What matters is what original high-impact policies were championed. Not a whole lot. Rep. Eshoo’s lack of meaningful action in her time as our representative is inexcusable. 100 energy companies have been responsible for 71% of all industrial emissions since human-driven climate change was officially recognized; how has Rep. Eshoo held them responsible? The answer is she hasn’t.

California needs to forge a new path

Do we want to see our devastation due to fires increase every year? Or do we need a new way forward. Rep. Eshoo has had plenty of time to take decisive action and simply hasn’t, we can’t trust her to be any different now. What makes it even difficult for Rep. Eshoo is her campaign contributions from PG&E, effectively tying her hands, instead of pushing PG&E for urgent action to upgrade their infrastructure and prevent recurring fires across California. It is time we forged a new way forward. Please support my run to bring a people-centric, problem-solving agenda to congress. Not activity for the sake of activity, but actual results.

Fire Safety

As of Sept. 11, the Red Cross is providing financial assistance to households whose homes were confirmed to have been destroyed or sustained major damage from the 2020 California Wildfires. To apply: call 1-800-RED CROSS, select Option #4 and follow prompts.

How did it start?

Lightning strikes on Saturday, August 15, 2020. Almost 12,000 lightning strikes. More than 500 new wildfires.

Get Emergency Alerts

If there is one thing you can do to keep yourself updated with the fire conditions, please subscribe into the automated alerts.

  • Santa Clara County: sign-up here
  • San Mateo County: click here to join
  • Santa Cruz County: click here to join
  • For any California county: click here
  • Saratoga’s Fire Info page is here


  • CalFire Evacuation Map is here (may be inaccessible)
  • Fire Incidents here by Cal Fire
  • University of California Fire Activity Map is here
  • Fire Maps - click here
  • Chronicle’s California Fire Map is here
  • Mercury News Fire site is here
  • The Santa Cruz County Damage Assessment Map is here (unstable)

The latest Evacuation Updates

  • Here is a Santa Cruz site for your latest updates
  • Here is Santa Clara County’s Emergency Operations Center
  • Here is San Mateo County’s fire update

If you are evacuating

Santa Clara County: If you are evacuating your home and have questions, call (408) 808-7778. You can call the Red Cross at (866) 272-2237 to seek their help with shelter. Check out Airbnb’s offering for a limited time

Preparing to Evacuate and Learning

  • This is a good evacuation check list to print and keep handy. (Page throws a false 404 error and may need to be reloaded to access the PDF)
  • Ready for Fire Site

Getting Help

Visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov and apply online to get help. Business can apply for the EIDL loan via SBA.

How to donate or volunteer

  • You can volunteer here.
  • You can donate to the Fire Response Fund here. Donations to the fund will be distributed to nonprofit agencies and organizations directly assisting individuals.
  • The County of Santa Cruz is coordinating and accepting donations here: Santa Cruz County Warehouse: 1082 Emeline, Santa Cruz. Find info here (website overloaded intermittently).

Can we help?

If you need non-emergency help please reply or call our campaign at 408 805 5993. Our Neighborhood Preparedness Team is on standby and available to help. Hundreds of our volunteers have helped thousands of neighbors during the pandemic.

Reference Links

  • Here is a Santa Clara County map which has regular incident and evacuation updates.
  • Air quality can be monitored here. To receive notification of Spare the Air Alerts via telephone, email or text, sign up on their website at sparetheair.org.
  • For information about the Air District, visit baaqmd.gov.
  • Here is a wonderful site offered by San Mateo County to aid in evacuations! This site also applies to Santa Cruz county. (may be inaccessible)
  • If you want to post your status to family and friends, go to http://redcross.org/safeandwell and click "List Yourself as Safe and Well."
Additional info resources:

Evacuation Preparedness

Those impacted by an evacuation will be notified as early as possible, but it is important to proactively monitor conditions if you are near a wildfire or other disaster area. Sign up for emergency alerts, including evacuation orders, at alertscc.com, monitor the news on local radio and television stations, and keep an eye on social media.

If you are asked to evacuate, immediately follow instructions provided to safely leave the area. Information about where to evacuate to will be communicated in the evacuation order or by law enforcement officers managing the evacuation process. The City has identified several locations in its emergency plans as potential evacuation centers. During an actual evacuation, you will be directed to the best location based on the emergency conditions.

Residents should also take steps to prepare for an evacuation in advance of an emergency. Visit the Santa Clara County Fire website for a detailed list of tips for preparing for evacuation and what to do during an evacuation. A few key recommendations are below.

Pre-Evacuation Preparation

When an evacuation is anticipated, follow these checklists (if time allows) to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

  • Inside the House
    • Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
    • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
    • Remove lightweight curtains.
    • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
    • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
    • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
    • Shut off the air conditioning.
  • Outside
    • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
    • Turn off propane tanks.
    • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
    • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
    • Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
    • Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
    • Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
    • Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
    • Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
    • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
    • Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
    • Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.
  • Animals
    • Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
    • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.

Take Action Immediately

Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Don’t wait to be ordered by authorities to leave. Evacuating the fire area early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets them move more freely to do their job. In an intense wildfire, they will not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate!

  • Officials will determine the areas to be evacuated and escape routes to use depending upon the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc.
  • Law enforcement agencies are typically responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions promptly.
  • You will be advised of potential evacuations as early as possible. You must take the initiative to stay informed and aware. Register for emergency alerts, listen to your radio/TV and look for announcements from law enforcement and emergency personnel.

Before an Evacuation

  • Identify a meeting location for your family outside of the fire area.
  • Consider the route you will use to leave your home, if needed.
  • Come up with a plan for pets or large animals, like horses.
  • Pack an evacuation kit with important papers and documents, phone numbers, prescriptions and everyday medications, eyeglasses, irreplaceable memorabilia, personal computers, credit/debit cards, and cash.

During an Evacuation

  • Closely monitor conditions. Sign up for AlertSCC emergency notifications, monitor social media, and listen to your radio/television for evacuation announcements.
  • Leave as soon as an evacuation order is recommended by officials.
  • Local law enforcement will be present to manage the evacuation.
  • You may be instructed to take certain routes, head in a specific direction, gather at a temporary assembly area to wait to be transferred to another safe location, or directed to an evacuation center in the order or by law enforcement. Follow all prompts.
  • Locate your family and pets, and take them with you when evacuating.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, heavy shoes, a dry bandana or other face cover, and goggles or glasses to protect against heat and flying embers.
  • Grab your evacuation kit before leaving home.
  • Meet family and loved ones at agreed upon meeting location.

Defensible Space Checklist

For more information on preparing your home, property and family for wildfire, visit sccfd.org/rsg. Assess your home - here

Get ready for wildfire season by removing wildfire fuels around your home and creating defensible space to serve as a buffer to slow or stop the spread of wildfire. Follow this checklist to help minimize wildfire threat:

  • Zone 1 (within 5 feet of your home)
    • Clean gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles
    • Move any flammable material away
    • Block off areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent accumulating debris
  • Zone 2 (5-30 feet from your home)
    • Remove all dead plants, grass, and weeds
    • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from structures and other trees
    • Remove branches that hang over your roof
  • Zone 3 (30 to 100 feet from your home)
    • Mow lawn down to a maximum height of 4 inches
    • Trim shrubs and trees so branches are off the ground and not touching other plants
    • Ensure your home can be easily accessed by emergency responders
For more information on how to harden your home and create defensible space, visit the Santa Clara County Fire Department website.

Fire Evacuation Checklist

  • Have at least 1/2 tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times. Flashlight, portable radio.
  • Round up your pets: get them secured and ready to go into the car with no way of escape before they are loaded into the car (this is especially important with cats)
  • Make a prior arrangement to contact a neighbor or friend who might be available to help you in an evacuation situation with loading or driving a second or third vehicle, or to help with large animals such as horses/ penned animals etc.
  • Have pet carriers, leashes, food bowls, food, litter boxes, litter, and other pet needs ready to go & ready for car (store in a secure place so these are easily loaded into the car).
  • Have very important files, back-up disks, plug-in USB virtual drive, small compact file box ready to go.
  • Include such things as homeowner’s policy, auto policies, life & investment files, bank records, legal documents, licenses, etc. (or store in a fireproof safe or fireproof bunker).
  • Computers (hard-drive most important) if you have no back-ups.
  • Photograph albums, photo CDs, etc,... Have these ready, packed, stored in a secure place to go immediately into a car (or store in a fireproof safe).
  • Cameras & expensive jewelry or important electronic devices.
  • Suitcase filled with old but usable clothing, socks, underwear, jackets, sweatshirt, extra shoes, etc. Keep this packed ahead. Include a bag for him and for her of toiletry items, including: deodorant, disposable shavers, extra toothbrushes, shampoo & shaving cream, toothpaste, extra regular medications to last a few days.
  • If you have enough room, consider a few items from your camping or picnic supplies. Pillows & light blankets (in case you might have to sleep outside while evacuated).
  • If time, draft email, send to friends and family about your intentions.
  • All household & car keys, wallet, handbag, cell phones & any credit cards you keep in a drawer that you might need.
  • Complete phone list or phone address book (snail and email), including cell phones of neighbors, family. Special or valuable items (make your own list).
  • Close all windows, close all interior doors, remove curtains from area of windows.
  • Turn off propane gas at tank, remove BBQ propane tank, take it with you or store in a secure place such as a bunker or away from your house.

Earthquake Preparedness

Emergency Kit

You should have an emergency kit - instructions are here

Visit the FEMA page

This page has detailed instructions on what you can do before, during and after the earthquake. Please do not take it lightly, spending an hour reviewing these tips will go a long way

FEMA videos to watch

Get CERT Certified and be a Neighborhood Hero

Join the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and get CERT certified. Every neighborhood should have a CERT certified leader. Take charge of your home and your neighborhood. Our county conducts CERT Certification training and you could champion preparedness for your neighborhood:

This certification and training will be super useful for our neighborhood in case of an earthquake, fire etc.

CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training academies are offered by every county and locations rotate throughout the year. Skills taught include personal preparedness, organizing resources, basic medical operations, basic search and rescue, fire extinguisher use, and basic damage assessment. The CERT Academy is (6) nightly sessions and a final skills exercise. Students must attend all (7) class meetings to receive a Certificate of Completion.

Links tested November 2022