Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

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Source: Office of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

Following the devastating fires last year, in which many residents were not signed up for their county emergency alerts, a bill by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to create an opt-out emergency alert system passed the State Senate today and now heads to the Governor.

Senate Bill 821 will give counties the option of automatically enrolling every resident in a targeted emergency notification program, while preserving residents’ ability to opt-out of alerts. Many of California’s public warning systems have the ability to deliver notifications to residents based on the location of their homes, but require residents to sign up before they receive these critical cell phone and email alerts.

In contrast, a federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system does not require residents to sign up, but it lacks the ability to precisely target specific neighborhoods, potentially undermining efficient evacuation efforts. 

When the Thomas Fire broke out, fewer than 30 percent of residents had signed up to receive county cell phone and email alerts. In the Northern California wildfires, which caused the deaths of 44 people, notification of residents has also been scrutinized as inadequate.

“Every second counts when a disaster strikes,” said Senator Jackson. “SB 821 could save lives by ensuring all Californians receive timely, accurate and efficient emergency alerts. This bill will provide an important measure of safety for all Californians.”

Governor Brown has until September 30 to sign SB 821. If signed, the bill would go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Jackson is chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management. She represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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a-1553647158 Sep 03, 2018 10:17 AM
Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

Alerts are not at all useful if they don't target the closely affected community correctly. So far, I've seen zero evidence that it can be done consistently. Whole county being notified to evacuate during Thomas Fire --- Mistakes in street boundaries (twice) for evacuations, and no evacuations where needed, during Goleta Holiday Fire very recently. If alerts are not consistently accurate, we will pick and choose what to react to, and that is not good. Get it right first, and then do/enact Senate Bill 821. The problem is not us not being signed up. If the alerts were not a joke, but were seen as accurate and important, everyone would sign up. The problem starts with the County and Feds not knowing their Ps and Qs...I'm being generous, there's another phrase I would rather use.

SantaBarbaraObserver Sep 03, 2018 10:16 AM
Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

I agree with A-1535994679, everything Jackson proposes these days is about controlling our lives. It is time for a change. She's lost her way. We're not children and she is not our leader. She is supposed to 'represent' the people's wants and needs, not oversee us.

a-1553647158 Sep 03, 2018 09:59 AM
Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

Why are there constantly posts from the Office Of Senator Hannah Beth jackson on here lately Where are the posts from other offices? Is this site becoming political?

a-1553647158 Sep 02, 2018 08:09 PM
Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

Everything this woman does reeks of control. You can opt in, or not. Why does she think the government should run people's lives? Instead of forcing it, use the money and effort to get the information to everyone about how to opt in. I can't wait for her to be out of office.

a-1553647158 Sep 02, 2018 05:13 PM
Automatic Emergency Enrollment Bill Heads to Govenor

What alerts will be sent? Lost children? Freeway accidents? Please be specific. If the alerts are for fires only, especially any evacuation warnings, I'm for it. If it's for "all of the above", I'm opting out.

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