Thursday, June 22, 2006

Governor's Involved

This morning’s editorial in the Bee looks at the governor’s involvement in the flood situation and appears to not be very impressed…but it is good news that at least he is involved, and one hopes his administration gets it right.

Here is an excerpt

Editorial: Warning! He's involved!
Schwarzenegger gets in flood game -- alas
Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, June 22, 2006

If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes to build a legacy on protecting California -- and state taxpayers -- from costly winter floods, he must demonstrate more leadership than he has shown to date.

For months, the governor played the part of a spectator while building and banking lobbyists have killed flood-control bills in a series of drive-by shootings.

Now the governor has decided he wants to get involved -- and the results appear to be disastrous.

At issue is a measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk that may end up being the only meaningful flood legislation of this session. Known as the "show me the flood protection" measure, Assembly Bill 1899 passed the Assembly this month, passed a Senate committee yesterday and has a fair chance of passing the full Senate.

Wolk's legislation would put the onus on Central Valley cities and counties to demonstrate they have adequate levees before they approve new developments in floodplains. Under her bill, the state Reclamation Board would have to certify that an area planned for growth has solid, 100-year flood protection -- a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year -- and a plan to double that protection in the next decade.

Not surprisingly, the Building Industry Association opposes Wolk's measure. The BIA would rather maintain the current system, in which developers can build new housing in deep floodplains -- such as Plumas Lake in Yuba County, which has flooded twice in the last 20 years -- without any state oversight.

What is surprising is Schwarzenegger's stance. He and his advisers know that state taxpayers face billions of dollars in potential flood control liabilities, thanks to a court decision involving a 1986 flood in Yuba County. Given that exposure, state leaders face a pair of tough choices: Either they require local governments to indemnify the state whenever it spends money on a levee, or they take steps to ensure that local development doesn't outrun the state's ability to provide essential flood control.