EXECUTIVE ORDER D-74-03


WHEREAS, I have proclaimed a State of Emergency to exist in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties as a result of wildfires and high winds; and

WHEREAS, the conditions of extreme peril continue to exist and these fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres, more than a thousand homes and businesses, and caused severe damage to the public infrastructure, thus straining government, human and financial resources in these counties; and

WHEREAS, the ultimate total magnitude of these fires is currently unknown but continues to increase hourly, and the ultimate consequences could include damage that would make this the worst natural disaster in the State's history, in terms of lives lost, property destruction, and ongoing environmental risks; and

WHEREAS, the federal government may provide financial assistance to state and local agencies, but requires matching funds of up to twenty-five percent of the costs; and

WHEREAS, the State's share of any disaster project funded by the federal government is generally no more than seventy-five percent of California's total share of costs, leaving local agencies responsible for the remaining twenty-five percent of costs; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Government Code section 8687.2, the State may assume a greater share of costs if the Director of the Office of Emergency Services determines that local governments in the fire areas are unable to meet the required matching cost-sharing because their financial resources have been exhausted by disaster expenditures; and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Department of Finance estimates, based upon initial assessments of the damage caused by these fires and the experience of the 1991 Oakland Fire, that local governments may face up to $250 million in their share of costs for fire fighting, repair and rebuilding and other disaster services; and

WHEREAS, the Directors of the Office of Emergency Services and Department of Finance project that the total costs of these fire disasters may be the largest in California's history; and

WHEREAS, local government agencies have generally experienced reduced revenue collections over the past three years due to the downturn in the national economy, and are thus already operating on reduced budgets for both local services and infrastructure needs; and

WHEREAS, this economic downturn has impacted local government's ability to fund the costs associated with fully responding to the devastating wildfires in southern California, thus jeopardizing their ability to meet the matching requirements set forth in Section 8686 of the California Disaster Assistance Act; and

WHEREAS, the director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, in consultation with the state Department of Finance, has determined that the unprecedented costs to local agencies have overwhelmed their ability to pay for emergency response and for the restoration of critical public facilities; and

WHEREAS, although the State faces unprecedented budget demands, it is necessary for the State to provide financial assistance to public agencies in the affected counties in responding to this disaster of historic proportions; and

WHEREAS, since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, the Administration and the Legislature have agreed that the State may pay the entire non-federal share of costs of local emergency response, debris removal, and public facility repair and replacement, for all federally declared disasters; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary to assure local government agencies facing this disaster of the continued integrity of California's mutual aid system and that the State take all possible steps to provide financial assistance as needed;

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, including the Emergency Services Act and California Disaster Assistance Act, in particular Government Code sections 8566 and 8687.2, do hereby issue this order to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED THAT
, pursuant to Government Code section 8687.2, the Director of the Office of Emergency Services shall suspend the provisions of Section 8686, and in cooperation with the Department of Finance shall allocate available funds to pay the local agencies' matching share of the cost of emergency projects, for any local agency that is financially unable to meet the matching requirements set forth in Government Code Section 8686 due to the exhaustion of its financial resources because of disaster expenditures.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, under the authority vested in me by Government Code 8567, I invoke Standby Order number one that allows hiring of state personnel on an emergency basis and will help to ensure state resources are available to assist the impacted communities.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, the Director of the Department of Finance shall immediately advise the Legislature of the estimated total need for State funding and shall immediately prepare a request for a deficiency appropriation for submission to the Legislature.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, the Director of Finance immediately identify funds within existing items of appropriation for the purpose of redirecting those funds to address the initial costs generated by this disaster.

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