At the invitation of the Sonoma Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA), a volunteer team of ULI members convened virtually in April 2021 to develop recommendations to enhance wildfire, energy, and economic resilience in Sonoma County, California.
Wildfires are an increasing concern across California, and Sonoma County was directly impacted by wildfires in 2017, 2019, and 2020, in addition to experiencing significant stress and decreased air quality due to smoke from nearby wildfires in 2018. Further, County residents have experienced de-energizations through Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) in an effort to prevent wildfires from sparking in high-hazard conditions.
While the threat of wildfires is impacting quality of life and energy grid reliability, the County and its nine cities are striving to meet state and local climate mitigation goals. RCPA invited the ULI Panel as part of its efforts to create a comprehensive strategy to plan, fund, and implement effective responses to these increased risks. The Panelists considered and made strategic recommendations related to:
- Land use and development strategies for wildfire resilience;
- Advancing energy and economic resilience in the face of future wildfire events; and
- Equitable governance, partnerships and funding strategies to ensure infrastructural investments are transparent and have maximum positive impact.
The Virtual Advisory Services Panel (vASP) Chair Molly McCabe (HaydenTanner, the Lotus Campaign), Jose Bodipo-Memba (Sacramento Municipal Utility District), Christopher Calott (University of California, Berkeley), Jeremy Klemic (SWA), John Macomber (Harvard Business School), Molly Mowery (Community Wildfire Planning Center), Peter Quintanilla (Michael Baker International), Diana A Ramirez (Travis County Planning & Budget Office), Neil Webb (Ramboll) and sponsor representatives Supervisor Susan Gorin, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Mayor Chris Rogers, and Suzanne Smith (Regional Climate Protection Authority) present the panel’s recommendations at the end of the vASP on April 21, 2021.