The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

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USDA Kari Greer

Comment on the Marin County Civil Grand Jury's Report on "Wildfire Preparedness”

The following letter has been sent to the Marin County Board of Supervisors in anticipation of their review of the Marin County Civil Grand Jury's Report - Wildfires.

Dear Marin County Supervisors:

Comment on Item 9: GJ Report "Wildfire Preparedness”:

I regret I am unable to attend the meeting in order to speak on Agenda Item 9: Staff Report; Grand Jury Report; County Response.

1. The GJ Wildfire Report deserves broad dissemination, not consignment to the 'Round File', home to so many prior Grand Jury reports. Added to it, should be reports detailing experiences of first responders in North Bay disasters of the recent past, particularly the failures that negatively affected public safety — e.g., North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium’s 2017 "Telecommunications Outage Report: Northern California Firestorm” ; CPUC’s “Report of Communication Carriers’ Impact and Mitigations from October 2017 Fires” dated November 9, 2017 (PDF copies linked below).

This information should be publicly available at libraries, fire departments, public safety agencies, County offices.

2. I find the County Response to this Report weak and self-serving. Appendix E, a buried nugget in the GJ Report, belongs in the Summary or Introduction because the “7 Deadly Sins” should have informed your reading of the Report and written Response. Appendix E might also guide the search for remedies, and help assess of the worthiness of remedial decisions.

3. I am appalled by the extent to which the public has been misled and lulled into false security regarding emergency communications and evacuations. Telecoms selling their wares, and County consultants hired to produce specific, goal-oriented studies cannot be blamed for their corporate behaviors and self-interested actions.

4. This Board, emergency responders, and fire personnel are responsible, and must act as though you understand this public trust. It is past time to enable factual revelation of the failures and inherent risk factors, particularly in communication and transportation that will confront residents in an emergency.

As the Report says: “the public should be protected from wildfire, not from knowledge.” No one will thank you for shirking this task.

5. Creating and funding an Umbrella entity is not the answer nor will it shield you, who are responsible for public safety.

6. Again and again, the GJ Report states the obvious: Individual choices are the final and ultimate dictating factor for action in a crisis. In order to make those choices, residents need far better information, unpleasant though it may be, to help them understand and weigh insufficiencies that may not be remediable.

7. This Board should cease approving construction projects with inherent fire hazards. This is especially true of revenue-enhancing, ‘pet’ projects of individual Supervisors on which the remaining Supervisor follow the ‘district rule’ with 5-0 votes.

There is no perfect answer, no guaranteed safety, but, at the very least, you ought to provide your constituencies a fair chance to help themselves and their neighbors as best they can by delivering the facts to inform them and by defensive individual votes while you are on the Board.

Garril Page

San Anselmo