“As California weighs wildfire prevention, only you can prevent taxes from heating up” (sacbee.com, July 31): I cannot imagine the suffering families affected by the wildfires and I am thankful from the bottom of my heart that California's firefighters fight on every year to save these families. How can we do better? Sen. Gaines views the governor's and Legislature's priorities of combating climate change as not in line with the people’s. Every year has been hotter and hotter, hurricanes and wildfires more deadly. Climate change is not 100 years from now. It is a pressing issue that has everything to do with our daily lives. The state needs to address both climate change and its immediate impacts on California's citizens. The Assembly needs to be motivated to pass bills such as SB 100 to limit global warming and provide clean electricity.
Jun Wong, Sacramento
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“249 nights away at California fires: Firefighter families cope with a ‘new normal’” (sacbee.com, Aug. 6): I am a high school teacher and mother of two children. With the worsening of these fires, like many of us, I have to fight off a sense of impending doom as this becomes the "new normal." I think now is the time for creative solutions and communities coming together. One idea is for California to use the existing infrastructure of the reserves, their training programs for incarcerated firefighters and the conservation corps to design a new Environment Corps. Young people would get basic training and participate in supporting firefighters, evacuations, forest management and fire prevention, fire clean up, reconstruction and reforesting burnt out areas. This would bring our urban and rural youth together in the tradition of the military and expose them to growth careers California needs.
Aryn Faur, Berkeley
“Trump’s challenge of California’s emissions rules could zap its electric car industry” (sacbee.com, Aug. 2): California is facing a summer of extreme heat and deadly, devastating wildfires. These are the impacts of climate change. Now the Trump administration has announced plans to roll back cleaner car standards and take away California’s authority to set its own standards. Transportation is the number one source of carbon pollution. These cleaner car standards are critical when it comes to protecting public health from the impacts of climate change. The proposal goes beyond just dismantling federal cleaner car standards. It threatens states' rights to limit dangerous vehicle pollution and take more aggressive steps to protect their citizens. California should have the right to adopt stronger emissions standards. As a health professional, I urge the federal government to continue to work to reduce vehicle emissions and slow climate change. California’s health depends on it.
“Autonomous cars would navigate Sacramento streets with a backup driver 100 miles away” (sacbee.com, Aug. 1): This article did more than detail a partnership between the city and Phantom. It showcased a monumental step forward in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles, and provided a clear example of the forward-thinking vision of Sacramento’s leadership. The American Council of the Blind believes autonomous vehicles are a transformative technology that will expand mobility for millions of Americans with disabilities while saving tens of thousands of lives annually. These and many other benefits of autonomous vehicles will spur local, state and national economies. As Congress contemplates the AV START Act, I encourage Sens. Feinstein and Harris to consider the enormous social benefits from this legislation and join in support.
Anthony Stephens, Alexandria, Va.
“SMUD doesn’t have shareholders, so customers will get hit by wildfire costs” (sacbee.com, Aug. 1): Arlen Orchard of SMUD complains about potential liability under the theory of inverse condemnation. He asserts we, as SMUD customers, are at risk to pay the price for all damages caused by wildfires within its service area. This is simply not true. I have practiced inverse condemnation law for almost 40 years and I don’t know of a single case that holds a utility service provider liable for damages under the hypothetical scenario contained in his article. A utility provider will not be held liable for property damage unless it is proven in court that the failure of the providers project was the substantial cause of the damage inflicted on the owners property. This legal principle has been carefully developed in the courts over 140 years. Liability is determined by a judge, not a jury and not all inverse cases are won by the property owner. Utility providers have successfully defended cases under the law as it presently exists. The utility provider, in most cases, has greater resources to defend the action than the property owner who is attempting to recover for the damage suffered.
“Wildfire alerts didn’t reach everybody in danger. Gov. Brown is open to changes” (sacbee.com, Aug. 4): The alert system needs to accept numbers that may have "mismatched" phone numbers. For example, our area code 801, which is Utah. But we live in California. I've tried to join manually, but I am not accepted. This needs updating to fit our digital life styles. More and more of us will keep our cell phone numbers when we move.
Lines at DMV
“Fed-up Californians deserve to know why DMV lines are so long” (sacbee.com, Aug. 3): It’s easy to blame an entity or an industry for failing when sometimes we should look at the people pointing the fingers – the Legislature. Before the motor voter law was enacted, you could update the address for your vehicle on the DMV website. Now, until the website is updated, you have to download a three-page document that, once completed, you mail to the DMV, resulting in delays. I understand the reasoning behind the motor voter law, but the Legislature never understands the process of the agency for which the law was enacted. So before you blame an agency for its failing, maybe you should understand how that agency works.
Michael Santos, Antelope
Avoiding the wait
I made an appointment three months ago to renew my license and obtain a Real ID. I pre-registered through the DMV website and gathered all my documents. I arrived at 8:45 for my 9:30 appointment and lined up outside. After about 15 minutes, the line moved inside. I handed the cheerful reception lady my pre-registration paper and was directed to a window staffed by a courteous, knowledgeable DMV technician. She reviewed all my documentation. I was out of there at 9:32. My advice? Make an appointment. Pre-register at the DMV website. Gather all your documentation. Show up early.
“Trump’s short-term health plans are cheaper but cover less” (sacbee.com, Aug. 1): The Trump administration’s rule authorizing the expansion of short-term insurance plans is bad news for California small businesses that depend on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The rule authorizes the expansion of short-term insurance plans from their current three months to 364 days and allows insurance companies to renew these plans for up to a whopping three years. The administration estimated as many as 1.6 million people would purchase short-term plans by 2022, nearly all of whom would be younger and/or healthier. This will disrupt the individual marketplaces and raise costs for everyone who remains. Without healthy people in the marketplace to offset the costs insurance companies incur to care for older or sicker people, premiums will rise drastically and many small businesses will be priced out of the market. Premiums are already on the rise thanks to the Trump administration, and this rule will only make matters worse.
Behind the fires
“’No one expected a fire tornado.’ Jerry Brown says wildfires are going to get expensive.” (sacbee.com, Aug. 2): I am a 15-year veteran of the California fire service and have been on the front lines of many terrible and destructive fires all across California. Some of these fires have burned their way into the history books and were “the worst fires in California history” at the time. The Poomacha and Witch fires of 2007, the Shasta Lightning Complex, the Telegraph and the Craig fires of 2008, the Mendocino Pass fires of both 2011 and 2012, the Butte fire of 2015, the Redwood fire of 2017, and now the Ranch and River fires of this summer. Climate change is the number one factor in the steep and unsustainable rise in acreage burned, homes lost and money spent. California will lose this battle. Gubernatorial candidate Cox is correct that more resources are desperately needed for fire protection, but he is negligent and naive in saying climate change isn't the main factor. He wouldn't know in his is a life of air conditioning and shelter. Anyone on the ground dealing with this constant state of emergency knows better.
S. Farrelle, Magalia