Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors recently approved a plan aimed at improving emergency response planning and communication in the Loma Prieta area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a community that straddles the Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County lines.
Earlier, in November, Supervisor Joe Simitian asked for County Administration and the Office of Emergency Management to return with options for updating emergency response plans and improving communication with residents in the Loma Prieta area. His proposal was co-authored by then-Supervisor Mike Wasserman.
“I’ve been visiting, listening, and learning—learning a lot,” Simitian said. “I know the community is concerned about emergency response. I know having two different counties with responsibility for one community complicates matters. Finally, I know it’s never too early to start getting ready for the next emergency, whether earthquake, rain or fire related. Folks in the Loma Prieta community have a long tradition of self-reliance. But wildfires and other disasters are not going away any time soon. We’ve got to work with the community and our partners in Santa Cruz County to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
The new efforts slated for 2023 include:
- Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County will develop a memorandum of understanding on shared responsibilities.
- In the spring, the two counties will organize a joint community outreach event to provide emergency planning information and an overview of potential services during an emergency event.
- In the late spring, the two counties will conduct a joint Emergency Operations Center to Emergency Operations Center tabletop exercise.
- Prior to the start of fire season, fire jurisdictions and law enforcement will meet to discuss unified command, response, evacuations, evacuation routes and mutual aid policies already in place.
- The Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Offices will have a joint substation in the new Community Center on the Loma Prieta Joint Union School District campus.
Given all this, Simitian said he wants to make sure that the Center and Sheriff’s substation are “properly equipped with a generator suitable for providing extended power in the event of an emergency.”
A progress report on these efforts will be presented in May to the County’s Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee (HLUET), where Simitian is a member.
“The advent of electric cars and Zoom meetings has heightened the need for emergency power in times of disaster, outages and extreme climate swings,” said Robin Porter, president of the Loma Prieta Community Foundation. “Our elderly and compromised residents depend on heating and cooling stations during these times. The community emergency response plan depends on emergency power generation to be equipped to handle these needs. We look forward to working with Supervisor Simitian and the County Office of Emergency Management to prepare for these needs.”