SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Public Safety Power Shutoff warnings were a constant threat at the height of the fire season.
Many folks were confused on how to read the necessary maps and some didn't get proper alerts, as Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson tells our Kacey Drescher, we need to do better.
Senator Jackson says we need to reduce the threats from climate-driven events and we need to be proactive as a community.
“This is very unsettling to the public, it’s scary frankly,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson was in Goleta Friday to assure the public and business community that she and the state are trying to address our response to wildfires and subsequent public safety power shutoffs
"We've seen a lot of lack of coordination and communication, there are a lot of things that we need to do to improve these programs, working with the IOU’s or independent utility companies,” said Jackson.
While Jackson says she has a number of bills pending in the legislature to address California’s fire situation, she’s calling for more accurate information sharing and alert systems.
“Making sure we don’t just throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks when it comes to the shut off‘s. They should be very specifically driven. There should be a lot more work done to identify where they need to be, how long they need to occur, and recognize the impacts that they have on our community,” said Jackson.
Southern California Edison says it hears their customers loud and clear and they are doing everyone they can to reduce the likelihood that their electrical infrastructure becomes an ignition source.
“We have significantly enhanced our website and our notification process. Now you can go online and have a more interactive map and really see specifically if your particular address is impacted by a PSPS,” said Southern California Edison Spokesperson, Rondi Guthrie.
Jackson says while there is room for improvement and the private sector has been reluctant to participate, Edison has stepped up.
“I think we need to encourage their participation and differentiate between who I think has been a terrible actor and that’s PG&E and a company that now recognizes the importance of resiliency, the importance of community engagement and I believe they are working toward that goal,” said Jackson.
Concerns were also raised over the impact this all has on our tourism industry. Hospitality officials say international tourism came to a halt after the Thomas Fire and 1-9 Debris Flow. Hotels also saw a drop in occupancy after the Cave Fire.
Jackson says another priority is addressing our alert systems since 80% of the public only have cell phone access as opposed to a landline.