WHEREAS, on October 25, 2003, I proclaimed a State of Emergency in San Bernardino and Ventura Counties due to conditions of extreme danger and widespread destruction caused by wildfires; and

WHEREAS, on October 26, 2003, I proclaimed a State of Emergency in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties due to conditions of extreme danger and widespread destruction caused by wildfires; and

WHEREAS, these fires have already consumed hundreds of thousands of acres, destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people; and

WHEREAS, those who have suffered injuries, lost family members or lost their homes, businesses or employment require immediate assistance from federal, state and local governmental agencies and community organizations for services such as temporary food and shelter, obtaining access and reentry to restricted areas, obtaining financial aid, applying for death, disability or unemployment benefits, expediting building permits and inspections, debris removal, road clearing, crisis counseling, questions regarding licensed contractors and consumer fraud, expediting claim filing and settlement, rerouting mailing of Social Security benefits, replacing business licenses, and documenting losses for tax and insurance purposes; and

WHEREAS, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services has successfully utilized Local Assistance Centers during previous emergencies to coordinate and expedite such assistance by providing "one-stop" centers where those affected by an emergency may obtain all services provided by governmental and community organizations; and

WHEREAS, these Local Assistance Centers have been funded and coordinated by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GRAY DAVIS, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue this order to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED THAT the Governor's Office of Emergency Services shall establish Local Assistance Centers as soon as possible where needed to provide "one-stop" emergency assistance services to those affected by the wildfire emergencies in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT through these Local Assistance Centers, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services shall coordinate applications for and referrals to the emergency assistance and related programs offered by all relevant federal, state and local agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California Conservation Corps, the California Departments of Health Services, Mental Health, Social Services, Consumer Affairs, Employment Development, Highway Patrol, Forestry and Fire Protection, Veterans Affairs, Aging, Transportation and Insurance, and the Franchise Tax Board.

I FURTHER REQUEST that the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization consider using their administrative powers where appropriate to provide those individuals and/or businesses impacted by the wildfires extensions for filing, audits, billing, notices, assessments and relief from subsequent penalties.

I FURTHER DIRECT the Department of Finance to expedite hiring freeze exemptions in connection with direct staffing of disaster assistance efforts.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this order shall be filed with the Office of Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this order.