Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Flood Bills

Just about pegs it…but again, much of the struggle comes from the non-inclusion of any dams for flood protection and water storage, which some Central Valley legislators want.

An excerpt.

Editorial: Flood tide of inaction
Is flood bill still alive? Maybe, just barely
Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Televised images of flooded-out houses, ruined neighborhoods and displaced lives are back in the public eye with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The media are again reminding California of what could happen if a winter storm overwhelmed levees in Sacramento, Stockton or other parts of the Central Valley.

Arguably, the public has never been so aware of flood dangers and so demanding of action. Yet it remains to be seen if Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and other lawmakers can cobble together legislation that actually might reduce the Valley's flood risks. A hybrid bill is taking shape, but it may just be an effort by Perata to save face instead of a sincere attempt to improve flood protection.

The political intrigue is about as thick as bayou muck.

About eight bills are in play, including ones to improve flood mapping, make flood risks a part of a city's general plan and finance upgrades for Delta levees. These are all fine measures, but they don't deal with the reality that cities and counties are building new homes in basins that lack adequate levee protection, with no plan for improvements.

Assembly Bill 1899, by Lois Wolk of Davis, would attack this syndrome by requiring local governments to demonstrate safety before putting more families in floodplains. For a while it appeared Perata and other key senators supported it. Then Perata mysteriously shelved Wolk's bill and others, claiming he didn't want the governor to "cherry-pick" and veto certain bills.

Then we found out that the California Building Industry Association -- the major opponent to Wolk's bill -- had provided Perata's bond campaign committee with a $500,000 donation.
Stung by the bad publicity, Perata held a meeting with lawmakers Monday night. The meeting was a farce. Wolk didn't get a chance to present possible amendments to her bill. Instead, Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, dominated the session, claiming her bill would hurt his Stockton district.