California spends billions rebuilding burned towns. The case for calling it quits
Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration Monday of a state of emergency as a first step to repair California’s damage to the state’s wildfires and coastal communities took place amid a flurry of media coverage — and some criticism.
As we write this, the California National Guard, state and local firefighters and coast guard are preparing to enter the massive blaze burning in southern California that has already claimed at least 21 lives but is expected to kill many more in what is the most destructive wildfire in state history.
In the days and weeks ahead, it will be an increasingly difficult thing to argue against Brown’s decision to declare the emergency. It’s the right thing to do.
However, it will be difficult to argue against Brown’s decision to call for $1.1 billion in emergency funding from the state’s General Fund to pay for the repairs to the state’s infrastructure and the emergency response to the wildfire.
Even with that money, all but 6,000 square miles of the state is under mandatory evacuation orders that should last about three weeks. That means the state needs emergency responders and resources immediately as fires race across the state.
The governor called the emergency declaration to build up resources for the state firefighting effort with the goal of keeping fire crews from being sent out. A fire season of devastating fires comes with an ever-growing list of warnings:
In all, the state of California is facing the end of its second-longest drought in history.
The state’s wildfires are also a reminder — and the reason — that we need to address California’s crumbling infrastructure and the aging infrastructure that is in dire need of attention.
As one of the nation’s largest and costliest transportation systems, California needs to be thinking about how the system can be made to work better for the state’s residents. And it needs to be doing it as soon as possible — before the next fire threatens.
To that end, I’m not arguing against Brown’s decision to declare an emergency. The governor did that in a very best-case scenario.
The problem is the state is under a