October 2014 Newsletter
While the legislature ended its session in August, this is a good time to reach out to our office and share your bill ideas. Suggesting bill ideas is an excellent way constituents can participate in our government - in fact, I see it as a fundamental right of citizenship. Another such right is voting. It is important to register to vote so that you can make your voice heard. Remember, the deadline to register to vote for the November General Election is October 20, 2014. Contact your county Office of Elections for more information on how to register, or visit the Secretary of State's Voter Registration page.
This month, I want to focus our Community Spotlight on Ricardo Moran. Mr. Moran has been with the Red Cross for nearly five years. Perhaps you have seen him speak at local public events, where he is always enthusiastic and helps people feel welcomed with his warm remarks. He works hard to ensure that the Red Cross is present in our community providing information on safety and disaster preparedness. His goal is to train outreach volunteers who are multilingual, and of all age levels and backgrounds, so that we can reach every household in Imperial and San Diego County. Please join me in thanking Mr. Moran for his important service to our District!
Lastly, I am proud to announce that the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers (CACVSO) has selected me, along with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, as 2014 CACVSO Legislators of the Year. This honor bestows the Motomu Nakasako Award, named after "Mote" Nakasako, a Los Angeles County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) who was constantly involved in legislation to improve the lives of veterans at the local, state, and federal levels. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and a steadfast supporter of veterans issues, I am thankful and humbled to receive this recognition. To read more, please visit http://www.cacvso.org/.
As always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions you may have about our legislative process or about the information that you find in this newsletter.
Community Spotlight: Ricardo Moran
Ricardo Moran is the preparedness manager for the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. Ricardo joined the chapter in 2005 and has been instrumental in growing the chapter's outreach program for the last seven years to underserved communities. Under his leadership, the chapter has initiated work into the Spanish-speaking, LGBT, refugee, Filipino, African-American, and low-income communities of San Diego County. This includes training and management of the Red Cross speakers' bureau; the Spanish-speaking Promotora program; and the AmeriCorps program. His program development and management with Red Cross initiatives in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego served as his guide to write the Prepare San Diego program.
Mr. Moran also serves as President of the Azalea Park Neighborhood Association. He is working alongside his leadership team to help promote Azalea Park beautification projects, as well as advocate and champion for an Azalea Park Arts District on Poplar Street.
Thank you and congratulations Mr. Moran for contributing to our community in so many ways!
CALENDAR: Event Reminders
U.S. Federal 2015 Fiscal Year Begins October 1
International Day of Non-Violence, Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi October 2
Drive Safely to Work Week October 6 - 10
Emergency Nurses Week October 5-11
Fire Prevention Week October 5-11
Mental Illness Awareness Week October 5-11
World Day of Bullying Prevention October 6
National Coming-Out Day October 11
National Food Bank Week October 12-18
Columbus Day October 13
National Mammography Day October 17
National Teen Driver Safety Week October 19-25
National School Bus Safety Week October 20-24
Red Ribbon Week October 23 - 31
All Hallow's Eve October 31
National Public Lands Day at Border Field State Park, Tijuana River Valley
As part of the Tijuana River Action Month, I participated in the National Public Lands Day at Border Field State Park. This event, hosted by the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, CA State Parks and the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, was a well-worth effort at installing native plants and restoring the area back to its natural state.
Border Field State Park offers more than 1,800 acres of diverse habitats. From dense riparian forests along the Tijuana River to coastal maritime sage scrub on top of Spooner's Mesa, this park never fails to provide an incredible experience. I always enjoy walking the extensive system of trails that link the many habitats in this fertile river valley. There are also opportunities to bike, ride horses or birdwatch along the miles of trails. I am very proud of this unique, ecological treasure that sits on the southern-most part of our district. There are more opportunities to participate and volunteer in this effort.
For more information, please visit: http://trnerr.org/tijuana-river-action-month-2/
Economic Roundtable Discussion, El Centro
After the unveiling of California Ethanol & Power's (CE&P) new ethanol project in Imperial Valley, I led an economic roundtable discussion with the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-BIZ) and the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) in El Centro. The meeting focused on new project incentives, including market tax credits and renewable energy opportunities for the region. CE&P was selected as one of 31 companies recommended to the California Competes Tax Credit Committee from a highly competitive pool of almost 400 applicants.
One of my goals as your State Senator is to continue to provide businesses with the necessary tools to be successful and to create more jobs that put people back to work in the Imperial Valley. I want to thank Mr. Kish Rajan, GO-BIZ Director, for coming down to Imperial County and partnering with us to improve the economy in the region.
The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) was created by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to serve as California's single point of contact for economic development and job creation efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more.
State efforts to encourage water conservation are starting to have an impact. Water agencies throughout the state reported a 7.5 percent drop in monthly water use in July compared to one year ago, according to a survey released in September. This drop in urban water use represents more than 17 billion gallons of water or enough water for 1.7 billion people to take a 5-minute shower. Beginning October 15, water suppliers will be required to provide an estimate of gallons per-capita per-day for residential customers, which will measure the daily amount of water used rather than overall water usage.
In comparison, monthly water use fell by only 4.4 percent in June and in May, water use actually increased by 1 percent, just before the State Water Resources Control Board imposed statewide water restrictions that include fines of up to $500 per day for violations. Figures for August will be released soon and the water board will consider whether more aggressive conservation steps are warranted since conservation efforts thus far are falling short of Governor Brown's call for a 20 percent reduction in water use.
Nearly 160 local water agencies in California have implemented mandatory restrictions on water use. Others will soon follow in order to align local conservation measures with new emergency regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Board. The Association of California Water Agencies' interactive drought map shows water use restrictions and other conservation measure adopted by water agencies, cities and counties.
Relief Efforts for Families with Drinking Water Shortages
As some communities begin facing drinking water shortages due to the drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order streamlining drinking water relief efforts. Through it, funding is now available from the California Disaster Assistance Act to provide water for drinking and sanitation to households without current running water. The Governor's order also extends the state's prohibition on price gouging during declared emergencies. And finally, it directs the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, and the Governor's Offices of Emergency Services and Planning and Research to work together to identify areas where dire drinking water shortages exist and solutions to these shortages.
14 California Communities Could Run Out of Water in 60 Days
As drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the state, the State Water Resources Control Board has, for the first time, begun keeping track of areas on the brink of complete waterlessness. Currently, 14 communities reside on a list of critical water systems that could run dry in 60 days. These communities are mostly small and rural, relying on one water source.
California Drought to Continue or Worsen in Next Three Months
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, the current exceptional drought is likely to keep steady or intensify within the next three months in most of California, Nevada and Oregon. The drought in California is already classified as the worst possible, based on a five-tiered scale. It is still too soon to determine whether winter rains will bring any relief.
Drought Strategy: Daily Water Allocation for California Residents
A recent move by the State Water Board to require local water agencies to report daily household water use is raising the potential that water agencies will begin applying an "allocation-based rate structure," as a form of water rationing. It is reported that mandatory water use restrictions are currently proposed for the City of San Diego. Read more on mandatory water use restrictions at http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/sep/29/city-councilors-propose-mandatory-water-use-restri/.
California Highway Patrol - El Centro Area, Safety Tip
Effective September 16, 2014, California law (Section 21760 CVC) requires at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road. When three feet is not possible, the driver of the motor vehicle shall slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and pass only if it does not endanger the safety of the bicyclists. The driver shall take into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the roadway.