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New California Law Empowers Local Governments to Plan for Climate Adaptation

State Senator Bob Wieckowski is working to help communities get the necessary tools to increase capacity for climate resilience.
November 4, 2016, 9am PDT | rzelen | @rzelen
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The creation of the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program by the California State Legislature this year was one of major legislative victories on the adaptation and resilience side of climate change action. California has begun to assess how climate impacts will impact the state's water, infrastructure, agriculture, and coastal communities. In an exclusive interview with The Planning Report, State Senator Bob Wieckowski, chair of the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee, discusses the recently signed SB 246, which he authored. SB 246 addresses the challenges of coordinating regional and state efforts to integrate climate adaptation into planning. SB 246 created the state clearinghouse on best practices for adaptation strategies in the Governor's Office of Planning and Research and expands the existing Safeguarding California efforts.

In looking at the capacity of local governments, Sen. Wieckowski saw large disparities in how communities could prepare for climate impacts. Sen. Wieckowski worked with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to also incorporate local governments into the existing interagency coordination on climate adaptation, and share their work with the local government folks who were previously unaware. Sen. Wieckowski explained the equity component to making all communities aware of climate adaptation work, stating:

“Let’s say we want to address sea-level rise, which is a significant cause of concern for communities in the Bay Area. If some well-to-do cities decided on their own to raise the money to create levees to protect their property values, the water would end up simply being redirected onto poorer communities. That’s why we need collaboration and coordination at the state level, and why we need to bring in scientists to determine the best efforts cities can undertake.”

Sen. Wieckowski also spoke to the needs of local governments going forward, which he frankly said is funding and designated money for local adaptation. In his interview, the Senator also discussed his work to remove barriers to building accessory dwelling units in hopes of providing immediate relief to California’s historic housing shortage, assess the Legislature’s potential next steps on refining the cap-and-trade program, and project how the state will continue to enforce sustainable statewide water policies.

Read more about Senator Wieckowski’s plan for increasing climate adaptation and resilience in The Planning Report.

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Published on Monday, October 24, 2016 in The Planning Report
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