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Since the drought is getting worse, it means the state’s burning already. Wildfires have reportedly already charred 14,000 acres in California. That’s over five times the acreage burned by the same time last year. There have been 2,340 fires this year, almost 1,300 fires and nearly 12,000 acres over the same period in 2020.  Cal Fire reports most of the fires were contained to manageable sizes, but we’re not really in the official fire season. Last year was historic with 4% of the state burning over 4 million acres. It also featured four of the biggest wildfires ever in the state. 33 people also died last year and more than 10,000 structures were destroyed. Cal Fire has hired nearly 1,400 more firefighters for the 2021 season.

900 landowners in Mendocino and Sonoma counties are being told they have to immediately stop taking water from the upper Russian River due to the drought. State regulators sending notice the river’s not flowing enough to allow for any diversions for irrigation and household use which will be impacting grape growers, farmers and rural residents. The Governor stood in a parched Lake Mendocino as he declared a drought emergency for the two counties. That was followed soon after by most of the state. The Lake is supposed to help keep the water flowing in dry months, but it’s only at around 41% of capacity compared to what it normally is this time of year. The water board’s Division of Water Rights deputy director says if diversions are not reduced right now, Lake Mendocino could actually be empty by the end of the year.

Not what you think it was… the fire people saw and called in, in Geyserville was a controlled burn, thankfully. Firefighters intentionally started the fire off River Road and folks were calling in as they spotted it from the 101.

The California Legislature has advanced 3 criminal justice reform bills. One of them could take the badges away from crooked, or otherwise tainted police officers. The bill failed last year as it was presented at the time of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was believed at the time the bill needed revisions in the Assembly due to vague language.  If it passes, it would make Calif. the 47th state to have such a law. Other bills advanced that reduced cash bail down to $0 for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies, and limits criminal enhancements which add several years to offenders’ sentences.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has to pay property taxes, like many in the state, AND franchise fees, for an expenditure of more than $406 million. The money going to 50 counties, 246 cities and one district where the utility owns and operates gas and electric infrastructure. The company paid out nearly $270 million dollars last month for property taxes covering the first half of the year. The franchise fees are so they can use public streets for its facilities. Lake County is getting just over $960,000 for their taxes and Mendocino County is getting nearly $2 million.

The Lakeport City Council’s held their special meeting on an appeal of a dog abatement request, basically saving two vicious dogs. The owner was appealing after several complaints that her dogs killed other animals over 15-months. Maria Anderson owns Bane and Bandit which the Sheriff and the Lake County Animal Care and Control had declared vicious. That label meant she had to follow 10 requirements. When the order was issued the dogs were blamed for another attack on ducks after a rabbit was killed and chickens were attacked on the same property. Neighbors and animal control testified before the council. Many said the dogs attacked their pets, while the owner was sorry and wanted to get the dogs trained. The dogs are currently impounded, so the owner has to follow all orders before she gets the dogs back.

A new survey says when Californians have their choice, Gov. Gavin Newsom will not be recalled. The poll done by the non-partisan nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California. Recall organizers say he’ll lose as some democratic leaders say the recall should be moved up, sooner than the fall.  And the California Department of Finance reportedly sent out a letter to all counties to see if the recall election can be fast-tracked so counties can get their money back from this year’s state budget. The agency is required by law to do a cost analysis for the recall. Recall organizers say Newsom is underestimating his chances. But the new poll showed 57% of voters would keep the governor if the recall election was held this month.

It’s going to cost Pacific Gas & Electric another $150 million dollars or so on top of the settlement they’ve already put up after causing several Northern California wildfires in 2017 & 18. The money now for bungling their intentional blackouts to prevent their crumbling infrastructure from causing more fires. The fines announced yesterday by California power regulators, $106 million for mishandling the power outages in 2019, and the rest are settlements the company agreed to with governmental agencies in Sonoma, Tehama and Shasta counties, which were consumed by fires that were triggered by the utility’s equipment during 2019 and last year.

Water districts across the state are imposing mandatory restrictions on usage. The Mendocino Voice reports Redwood Valley was the first water district in Mendocino County to mandate water use restrictions. The news site reports the manager of the Redwood Valley Water District cut agriculture connections last month. Now customers can only have 55 gallons of water/day per person. The district says without a lot of rain next year, there could be real trouble as they don’t have secure water rights or sources, just one tiny, unreliable water right.

The State Water Resources Control Board has announced its restricting water diversions from the Upper Russian River Basin to protect fish habitat and drinking water supplies. The restrictions will impact so-called “junior” water rights holders that go all the way back to 1914 and beyond. It comes after the governor declared a drought emergency for Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The restrictions were just announced yesterday and could stay in effect until it starts to rain again and water flows are restored. Anyone caught violating mandates could face daily fines of up to $1,000.

The majority of the state’s district attorneys are suing to stop emergency rules to expand good conduct credits which could mean early release of tens of thousands of prisoners. 75% of the state’s DA’s filed the suit, objecting, they say, on procedural grounds that the Corrections Secretary used the emergency declaration to bypass the usual regulatory and public comment process. It could affect as many as 76,000 inmates, most inside for violent offenses. It could however take months or years until inmates gather enough good behavior credits to see any major change in their sentences.

The Mendocino Cannabis Alliance has sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors regarding the recently revised cannabis cultivation ordinance. They basically agree with the Planning Commission’s recommendations and say the discretionary land-use based permit program is necessary for “a sustainable, regulated cannabis economic sector” in the county. The letter says existing operators should also get a chance so they should be supported by the community at large so they don’t end up going out of business. The Alliance recommends following the Planning Commission’s major use permit expansion with reasonable limits on stacking licenses.  And any possible expansion should be explored with an environmental review, but not happen during the drought emergency. They also wanted some language changed in the ordinance in accordance with the Planning Commission.

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