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The crisis and what’s being done

It isn’t often that an issue reverberates throughout an entire community — as the concern over homeowners insurance is currently. Last week we devoted a portion of the editorial to the subject as well as published a story about the cancellations and steep increases many local residents are facing. For that article we interviewed a number of insurance agents and also looked at it from a statewide perspective. This week many homeowners brought their concerns to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, and, under the leadership of Supervisor Lori Simpson, the board drafted a letter to be sent to the state insurance commissioner. That letter is included in this issue as well.

It’s a dire situation that many are labeling a crisis. Some homeowners can absorb the additional cost of the insurance; others cannot and fear losing their homes. Others fear that they could lose their homes if they can’t find insurance regardless of the cost. Still others worry that their homes will lose value if it’s perceived that insurance is too costly or impossible to get, and still others won’t be able to sell or buy a home.

As has been mentioned before this is not just a Plumas County problem or a rural problem, it’s statewide and beyond. We are not in this alone, which is good news because there will be a fix, it’s just a matter of time. Plumas is adding its name to an ever-growing list of counties calling on the state insurance commissioner to remedy the situation. Plumas has issued an invitation to the commissioner to visit this area, just as he has in other counties. A letter is one thing, but hearing personal tales renders much greater impact.

We are optimistic that Plumas and other counties will be heard and the state has already shown that it isn’t dragging its feet in the face of the fire crisis. Steven Pearlstein wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post on climate change focusing on California’s response. “Climate change is rapidly becoming America’s biggest economic and business challenge, and no state is doing more to address it than California.”

Pearlstein devotes a large portion of the column to the utility companies’ plans to de-energize power lines when fire danger peaks and particularly lauds the efforts of San Diego Gas & Electric and its $1.5 billion plan to reduce fire risk. The plan includes cutting down trees and branches that could hit power lines, installing cameras in remote areas, dividing transmission lines so that shutoffs can occur in particular areas, adding helicopters to drop water on fires and flying drones to help in the effort. Perhaps most impressive is the amount of data that has been collected to help the agency pinpoint when fire danger may peak.

Pearlstein also acknowledged the citizens themselves who have begun to adapt to their changing world by buying generators, solar panels and preparing for power outages.

The bad news is this is a difficult time to find or afford homeowners insurance. The good news is that steps are being taken to not only address this issue, but the fire threat itself.

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