Build to Survive: Homes in California's Burn Zones Must Adopt Fire-Safe Code

(TNS) - After the apocalyptic Camp Fire reduced most of Paradise to ashes last November, a clear pattern emerged.

Fifty-one percent of the 350 houses built after 2008 escaped damage, according to an analysis by McClatchy. Yet only 18 percent of the 12,100 houses built before 2008 did.

What made the difference? Building codes.

The homes with the highest survival rate appear to have benefited from “a landmark 2008 building code designed for California’s fire-prone regions – requiring fire-resistant roofs, siding and other safeguards,” according to a story by The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler and Phillip Reese.

California Regulators Skeptical of PG&E’s Promise to Improve Safety

California regulators expressed skepticism that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s new leaders have enough professional experience to instill the deep corporate culture of safety they say the company has lacked.

The utility has been blamed for more than a dozen of California’s most destructive wildfires in the past two years.

California’s Governor Proposes Wildfire Fund, Seeks PG&E Fix

California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave legislators just three months to address a multibillion-dollar wildfire liability problem that has forced the state’s largest power company, PG&E Corp., into bankruptcy and threatens the same fate for its other utilities.

The governor issued a report Friday outlining possible solutions for how costs for destructive wildfires will be covered, including a possible fund that utilities can tap into, that sent the clearest signal yet that the state will move to keep its power companies solvent. He called for legislation to be passed before lawmakers take a month-long summer recess on July 12, sending shares of PG&E and its peers soaring. It was made known two weeks ago that Newsom was also drafting plans to respond to wildfires more broadly, and his proposal has been expected.

Oregon City Contemplates New Policy to Deal With Levees

(TNS) — The Warrenton, Ore., Commission plans to develop a new policy to address encroachments on the city's levee system.

A recent inspection of Warrenton's nearly 11 miles of levees revealed several issues. There are moles everywhere and, in several cases, there are structures built into levee slopes.

One example the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rated as "unacceptable" is a garage built into the levee right of way off Main Avenue near Fourth Street.

If the garage is not addressed, it could jeopardize the levee system's status within the federal Rehabilitation and Inspection Program, which provides rehabilitation assistance.

AI in the Smart City: Experts Talk Risks and Rewards

City court officials in Austin used to spend a lot of time answering rote questions related to parking tickets, court dates and other issues.

Then about two years ago, the city began using a chatbot to field these requests. The move made life easier not only for workers in the court system, but also residents.

“They had a challenge with individuals coming down, asking questions about paying tickets,” explained Austin CIO Stephen Elkins during a panel discussion last week at the Smart Cities Connect Conference in Denver.

The future of operational risk management

As the efficiency of operational risk management remains a top priority and pressure to maximise value increases, emerging technology could prove crucial. Nitish Idnani, leader of oprisk management services at Deloitte, explores how the oprisk management space could look in the future if it continues its current evolution, and discusses the potential impact of key technologies

The efficacy and efficiency of operational risk management continue to be a major priority in today’s business climate. The ability to demonstrate the value of oprisk management frameworks – with risk managers being increasingly expected to do more with less – is increasing. This pressure is creating an incentive for risk leaders to explore and embrace new technologies and techniques that can help improve their programmes.

California Lawmakers Eyeing Catastrophic Wildfire Fund

Creation of a catastrophic wildfire risk pool is emerging as the most likely option as California lawmakers seek to protect the solvency of investor-owned utilities from record payouts for fire damages.

PG&E filed for a bankruptcy reorganization this year, saying it needed the court’s protection because it cannot count on the California Public Utilities Commission to allow it to recoup its costs through rates. The legislature last year created the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery, which is due to recommend ways of mitigating wildfire risks by July 1. Gov. Gavin Newsom is also drafting plans to respond to wildfires more broadly and is expected to release a proposal late next week.

Earthquake Law Could Financially Strain California Hospitals

(TNS) — California’s hospitals are scrambling to retrofit their buildings before “The Big One” hits, an effort that will cost tens of billions dollars and could jeopardize health-care access, according to a newly released study.

The state’s 418 hospitals have a deadline from the state, too. They’re racing to meet seismic safety standards set by a California law that was inspired by the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake, which damaged 11 hospitals and forced evacuations at eight of them.

By 2020, hospitals must reduce the risk of collapse. By 2030, they must be able to remain in operation after a major earthquake.

California Spillway to be Used Tuesday. The State Says it's Ready

(TNS) - Oroville Dam’s massive flood-control spillway will be deployed Tuesday for the first time since it was rebuilt for $1.1 billion after a near-catastrophe forced the evacuation of 188,000 people in 2017.

In a brief statement Sunday, the California Department of Water Resources’ deputy director Joel Ledesma said the agency has “restored full functionality to the Oroville main spillway and is operating the reservoir to ensure public safety of those downstream. The Oroville main spillway was designed and constructed using 21st century engineering practices and under the oversight and guidance from state and federal regulators and independent experts.”

California Earthquake Early Warning System Gets an Early Test

California’s earthquake early warning system may have taken a step forward this week when officials conducted a test in downtown Oakland.

The USGS, in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the city of Oakland and Alameda County, issued Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) soliciting a response to a survey to about 40,000 people in a 60-acre block. It went well, but not perfectly.

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