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Copy of More Potemkin Government: CAL FIRE Fire-Hazard Severity-Zone Map Hearings

CAL FIRE is holding a series of 'hearings' across the state to collect citizen input about the newly re-drawn maps for fire severity hazard zones. The maps only include the unincorporated areas of the state (called the 'SRA' - State Responsibility Area; cities and large urban areas have their own LRAs - Local Responsibility Areas and their own maps. Here is an example of one for the City of San Diego for 'very high' severity zones.) I attended the hearing for San Diego county on Monday, 1/9/2023. Near the beginning of the hearing, the facilitator read a statement indicating only 'comments' would be allowed, not questions.

While the hearing was audibly recorded for an archival record, it was not Zoomed or teleconferenced, and did not allow for hybrid virtual attendance for accessibility considerations.

Glaringly absent were any media stations or personalities, nor were any elected officials present.

The 'hearing' was sparsely attended (perhaps 12-15 citizens), with almost as many firefighters monitoring the meeting as well.

Despite the facade of 'democracy'*, the hearing itself was yet another example of Potemkin** Governance -- giving us the illusion of being listened to, while the outcome seems already pre-determined. Public hearings are required for certain decisions (and this one falls under Public Resource Code 4203.) One final item of note: CAL FIRE's press release makes reference to a "first-ever report on climate insurance" (from the state's Department of Insurance.) While I don't believe it was discussed at the meeting (I was a few minutes late), here is a link to a document I found giving an overview on "climate insurance."

We will follow this issue as it moves through, but the lack of real actionable input, combined with very poor pre-notification nor meeting accessibility indicates that a robust public presence did not seem to seem to really be desired to begin with.

* I used the word 'democracy' with literary license because the intent of the hearing was purportedly to listen to We the People's voices. The United States is a Constitutional Republic.

** The adjective 'Potemkin' refers to attempting to give the appearance of something more substantial (like real citizen input, vs. pseudo-listening sessions.)


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