Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 3:26 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

Local News

State Senate Passes Bill to Automatically Enroll Residents in Emergency Alerts

The California State Senate passed a bill Thursday allowing counties to automatically enroll residents in emergency alerts.

Prompted by the destructive and deadly wildfires last year, the legislation won Senate approval with unanimous support.

The bill gives counties the option to automatically enroll every resident in a location-based emergency notification program while preserving residents’ ability to choose to opt-out of alerts.

Many public warning systems in California can deliver notifications to residents based on the location of their home, but people must sign up for the cell phone and email alert, according to a statement issued by State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who introduced the legislation.

When the Thomas Fire erupted on Dec. 4, less than 30 percent of residents living near the blaze had signed up to receive county cell phone and email emergency alerts, according to her office.

“In the Northern California wildfires, which caused the death of 44 people, notification of residents has also been scrutinized as inadequate,” the statement said.

In contrast, a federal Wireless Emergency Alerts system does not require residents to sign up, but “lacks the ability to precisely target specific neighborhoods, potentially undermining efficient evacuation efforts,” Jackson said in a release. 

The bill now moves to the State Assembly.

Jackson said in a statement that the bill “will improve our emergency notification system by ensuring more residents are notified quickly and effectively when they are in harm’s way.”

Santa Barbara County launched a new emergency website in February with the outreach campaign focused on signing up for notifications.

The county Office of Emergency Management uses different systems to notify individuals about disaster information, weather warnings and evacuation orders.

County Emergency Management officials use Aware & Prepare and Nixle to send information over phone calls, text messages, emails and social media posts.

Only 7,000 people were signed up for Aware & Prepare alerts last year, which jumped to more than 41,000 as of February, according to the county.

Santa Barbara County, and departments including the Office of Emergency Management, also post evacuation orders, weather alerts, and other incident updates on their social media pages.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >