After months of wildfires and power outages in rural and lower-income areas, all it took was a week of fires threatening expensive homes and luxury wineries for Gov. Gavin Newsom and local leaders to declare a state of emergency.
In Southern California, an early morning wildfire quickly spread throughout the night nearby the famed Getty Center in Los Angeles. Many wealthy people had to be evacuated, with celebrities such as basketball star LeBron James being woken up by firefighters before 4 A.M. and being forced to drive around Los Angeles to find shelter.
Man these LA 🔥 aren’t no joke. Had to emergency evacuate my house and I’ve been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far! 🤦🏾♂️
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2019
The famed Brentwood neighborhood and Beverly Hills were also being threatened on Monday, with firefighters working around the clock to save homes and businesses.
In Nearby Pacific Palisades, fires are finally winding down following nearly a week of fires threatening the homes of major Hollywood names such as Reese Witherspoon and director J.J. Abrams.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, Sonoma County is facing its own giant fire: the Kincade Fire. Over 180,000 have fled, with historic and upscale wine communities facing total destruction. Firefighters in Sonoma County had to ramp up efforts during the weekend as many of the wineries, which are invaluable to the county, started burning up in the fires.
Both Soda Rock and Field Stone Wineries are now gone, with dozens more, comprising the bulk of Sonoma County wineries, still in danger. As of Monday, the Kincade fire is still has 25,000 acres either scorched or currently on fire.
Despite weeks of wildfires erupting across California, it took the burning down of homes belonging to the rich and famous and the destruction of wineries for major change to be enacted. Governor Gavin Newsom didn’t declare an emergency until major power outages and destruction in more upscale places was imminent during the weekend.
Similarily, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took days to announce an emergency declaration for the Saddleridge Fire earlier in the month despite 100,000 being homeless at stake, announced an emergency declaration within only a few hours of the luxury home adjacent Getty Fire.
“I’m signing an emergency declaration immediately for the Getty Fire to help bring more resources to support our LAFD in fighting this fire,” said Mayor Garcetti mere hours after the fire spread.
The trend of wildfire fighting declarations and legislation being announced or passed quickly when a wealthier area is at risk is nothing new.
In July, a giant $21 billion wildfire fund was signed into law by Governor Newsom in response to 2017 and 2018 wildfires that negatively affected major Californian landowners and real estate developers.
The Malibu Fire that destroyed the homes of celebrities Gerard Butler, Miley Cyrus, and Neil Young among others, was actually brought up by name in Assembly debate over wildfire bills this session instead of the more devastating and costly Camp wildfire. By going with the fires that affected the homes and businesses of people more likely to donate to campaigns or in general spend more money, several sweeping wildfire bills managed to get passed this session.
Now with power outages starting to hit areas of Silicon Valley and wildfires destroying some of the most expensive places in Northern and Southern California, a number of new bills are currently being mulled over in drafts in Sacramento and across the state.
With Governor Newsom being blasted over his response to the wildfire, a growing trend of wildfires across the state along with more wealthy areas affected by wildfires, as well as a 2020 election coming up for state Senators and Assembly members, even more change and wildfire funding can be expected to come to California in the very near future.
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