Letters to the Editor

Letters: Governor Newsom needs to lead California to make changes to avoid future fires

Be audacious

“Camp Fire death toll now at 48, worst in state history” (sacbee.com, Nov. 13): I do not want to live in a world where parents and their children are burnt alive in their cars every year in California. Only a year ago my mother-in-law died due to the Santa Rosa fires. Our new Governor Newsom's first term began on the day more than 81 people were burnt alive around Paradise and Malibu. I hope his response will be audacious, and use the existing legal mandates and authority to end fossil fuel use in California by the end of his first term. Since passing AB 32 in 2006, our legislators have given state agencies the legal authority necessary to switch our fuel economy. There is no fossil fuel use that cannot currently be legally eliminated, nor any remaining technical barriers. Please, Governor Newsom, lead California in a rapid switch to renewables. We must save ourselves.

Sean Armstrong, Arcata

Climate change

“Brown swings back at Trump: Climate change is propelling California’s fires, governor says” (sacbee.com, Nov. 11): Old technology Governor Brown may have come out swinging at Donald Trump, refuting claims that wildfires are a result of bad forest management, but he has struck out on meaningful climate action. During Brown’s time as governor he oversaw an expansion of oil and gas drilling in California and backed false climate solutions like cap-and-trade. During his recent climate summit, Brown drew thousands of people into the streets calling on him to keep fossil fuels in the ground and move to phase out oil production – something he has refused to do. Governor-elect Newsom and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have the power to clean up the Trump/Brown dirty energy legacy by swiftly moving our state and the country to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, in line with the most recent science. This is the home run we need to stabilize our climate, and help prevent the massive wildfires we are seeing.

Mark Schlosberg, Oakland

New technology

“Power lines keep sparking wildfires. Why don’t California utility companies bury them?” (sacbee.com, Nov. 16): This article takes a step in the right direction, but we need to think outside the box. Power lines are old technology, akin to land-line phones. We have moved from land-lines to wireless phones, so why not do the same with energy? We should adopt a point-of-use energy system, with solar panels on every roof and over every parking lot, and battery storage of the energy for night and rainy day use. The energy would be generated at the point of use and no need for transmission lines or a grid at all. The utility companies could install and maintain the solar equipment, which they would sell or lease to consumers. The technology exists: Tesla does that right now.

Lindy Rice, Rio Linda


“Why a salmonella outbreak shouldn’t ruin your Thanksgiving” (sacbee.com, Nov. 18): With the increased risk of salmonella being present in turkeys, is there a better time to start a new holiday tradition? Nearly 50 million turkeys will die this Thanksgiving season, most raised on factory farms under abominable conditions. The mutilations are done without anesthesia, as businesses don’t spend money when they don’t have to. At about four months of age, the birds are sent to slaughter. Fast-moving line speeds prevent workers from being able to slit all of their throats before they are dropped into scalding water, so some are boiled alive. This is perfectly legal, since poultry is exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Isn’t it time to consider delicious, healthy, humane, plant-based cuisine?

Stewart David, Venice

Tax breaks

“Amazon goes bicoastal, will open HQs in New York, DC suburb” (sacbee.com, Nov. 13): Amazon just received $2 billion in tax breaks in a bidding process pitting states/communities against each other. The $1.5 billion in tax credits over the next five years is earmarked for Filmmakers in California. Using taxpayers money to pick winners and losers? The European Union studied this process and found that in the long run, most of these tax credit biddings failed. The current administration has suggested that there should be cuts to Medicare/SSI that is creating a welfare state we can't afford. How bad does it need to be before we legislate a 'cohesion policy' to end tax credits?

Richard Kuechle, Lincoln

Evacuation warnings

“California’s choice: Let it burn, or figure out how to fight these deadly fires” (sacbee.com, Nov. 16): Your editorial urged Governor-Elect Newsom to convene a summit on wildfire issues. It should include the failure of evacuation warnings to reach the people they’re meant to protect. Survivors of the Tubbs, Carr and Camp fires told reporters they heard no warning before fast-moving flames swept into their communities. But no fire can outrun broadcast radio. The digital age instead focuses on mobile phones, push alerts, and other channels that can fail in a wildfire, a high-tech bias. Even a dead phone battery can be the cause. Mr. Newsom’s legacy could begin immediately if he were to order state and county planners to overhaul warning systems to emphasize radio as a primary alert channel. Over time, constant promotion of this nearly fail-safe communication channel would serve the public better than current practice.

Doug Carlson, Sacramento

Fire hazards

“Trump cites ‘total devastation’ in Paradise, pushes plan to thin forests; death toll rises to 77 Sunday” (sacbee.com, Nov. 17): While thinning the forest to reduce fuels is a logical solution to reducing fire danger, I would like to point out that wood frame construction creates fuel loads that can be disproportionate to the surrounding forest. It is no wonder that when we look at a scene devastated by fire, we see the masonry and metal and nothing else. I am cautioning everyone that rebuilding with wood will create the same problem we had in the first place. I am urging that the building codes be changed to require construction with masonry and metal, especially on the exterior of structures in fire-prone areas. It is time to stop creating fire hazards by building all-wood structures that are more flammable than the surrounding forest.

Peter Weiss, Santa Cruz