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Grant funds to pay for hazard mitigation consultant for county planning

As part of a plan to make Plumas County residents, lands and property safer from fire danger and other disasters, members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors approved grant funding and a consultant to carry out Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) work.

That action took place Tuesday, Dec. 10, following presentations by Sgt. Carson Wingfield, lead for Plumas County’s Office of Emergency Services (OWS), and Planning Director Tracey Ferguson.

California OES received funding from FEMA that was in turn awarded as grant funding. Plumas County’s OES applied for and received $73,971.75.

That funding, a 25 percent match or $24,657 of in-kind labor, totals $98,628, the amount for a consultant to complete the required HMP update.

The work

Seven consulting groups responded with proposals to carry out Plumas County’s HMP. Proposals, due Sept. 30, were reviewed by the planning department, the sheriff’s office and OES. The top three proposals were chosen for the interview stage.

The interview committee included Ferguson, Environmental Health Director Jerry Sipe, County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick, and Assistant Chief of OES Nick Dawson. Interviews were conducted during the week of Oct. 28, according to Ferguson.

Foster Morrison Consulting Ltd. was the preferred contractor.

County plans must be updated every five years according to regulations under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. Plumas County’s plan was adopted in August 2014. “Plumas County has applied for and received funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete this project,” Sheriff Greg Hagwood explained earlier.

Plumas County’s HMP must adhere to the terms of CalOES local HMP preparation guidelines, according to the program’s scope of work. It must align with goals, objectives and priorities of the state’s multi-hazard mitigation plan.

A planning team comprised of various Plumas public agencies and/or non-governmental organizations guide the development of the planning document. All planning team meeting are open to the public. Public workshops will also be held at intervals for educational briefings on the plan and to get public input.

Plumas County last updated its General Plan in December 2013. While that is an independent process, the public safety element that addresses wildfire, flooding and other hazards is part of the planning process.

The plan also must be compatible with that being developed by the city of Portola as the county’s only incorporated community.

The final plan must be a FEMA-approved multi-hazard mitigation plan for the county. It must include seven tasks, including hazard identification and profiling, asset inventory and vulnerability analysis, develop mitigation measures, prepare a draft plan, contain a local plan review and revision, and a plan adoption that is submitted to FEMA for final review and approval.

Hazard identification and profiling

As the county’s consultant, Foster Morrison will review and compile the existing plans, studies and data that are available from the county, state and federal sources. County staff and the planning team assists with compiling this information. It is also sorted into the type of hazard.

The consultant is responsible for assembling, updating and developing GIS layers as needed for each type of hazard. It is expected that Foster Morrison will not only incorporate this data into the new plan, but also develop new hazard layers.

Existing data sources include flood mapping, state earthquake information and fire hazard risk mapping. And all of it must be updated. While fire hazard risk assessments are being done by the Fire Safe Council, it is of special importance because of the recent catastrophic fires in Northern California, especially the neighboring Camp Fire in 2018.

The object of this task is to identify, map and profile the best available data.

Asset inventory, vulnerability analysis

This analysis is intended to summarize the vulnerability of each hazard and its impact.

Foster Morrison will compile an active inventory of the types and numbers of buildings, infrastructure and critical facilities. The starting point is with the Safety Element of the general plan for Portola and the rest of the county.

To do this requires input from the city of Portola and the county. This includes interviews for accuracy as the existing inventory is updated. The general plan is also consulted in describing future building and infrastructure plans. The census GIS data will also be reviewed for potential inclusion.

Develop mitigation measures

This is known as the heart of the plan. Prioritization of the new information is essential to this part of the planning.

Public consensus, or identifying a means of achieving consensus, on those components, which may be controversial, is also critical,” according to the requirements.

The plan states that existing mitigation measures in the safety elements, emergency response plans and other documents be reviewed and analyzed by the consultant. This information will be presented at one or more public workshops.

Prepare draft plan

Following state and federal requirements, the Foster Morrison consultant will write the draft plan and then make any changes as necessary.

Plan review and revision

This will be published and distributed for view to those interested, FEMA and CalOES. A public workshop is also supposed to be scheduled to allow residents an opportunity to discuss the plan.

Plan adoption and submittal

The final draft plan is presented to members of the committee and then the board of supervisors and Portola City Council for review and consideration. At that time, additional public comment should be allowed.

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