West Valley communities receive $7M for wildfire prevention and emergency prep

A local coalition of elected officials has secured a one-time state allocation of $7 million for wildfire prevention and emergency preparedness for West Valley communities in Santa Clara County.

At the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes on Saturday, Sept. 18, State Assemblymember Evan Low and U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshooalong with officials from the Santa Clara County Fire Department, gathered to announce and celebrate the approval of the $7M investment.

“This money will be used specifically to create a wildland specialist program that will help create defensible space in our communities overseen by our fearless leaders at the Santa Clara County Fire Department,” said Assemblymember Low.

Assemblymember Low originally requested the one-time allocation from the Assembly Budget Committee in May, to cover public safety and emergency resiliency in the event of a natural disaster. The allocation was approved in California’s recently passed budget, following the SCU and CZU Lightning Complex fires in 2020. The SCU and CZU Lightning Complex fires burned nearly 400,000 and 86,000 acres, respectively.

“While each of our communities has their own unique character and challenges, our lives are deeply interconnected, especially in times of crisis, which is why I’m so thankful for the regional coalition that came together to make this budget investment possible,” said Assemblymember Low. “Almost 2 million acres have already burned across California just this year, and fire season is far from over. As we continue to combat wildfires and other disasters, we need to prioritize a regional approach and make sure we look after our neighbors, whether they live on the same street or one town over.”

The grant will contribute to the creation of a pilot Wildland Fire Specialist Program, overseen by the Santa Clara County Fire Department, economic incentives to modernize Wildland Urban Interface areas in Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga, as well as a one-time Business Continuity and Resilience program. The program will provide emergency-planning improvements and technical assistance to local businesses.

“With roughly half of Saratoga designated at risk for wildfire, managing wildfire risk is one of our greatest concerns,” said Saratoga Mayor Yan Zhao. “While we’ve made great strides, there is always more work to be done. I’m so thankful to Assemblymember Low for his partnership and efforts to secure the $7 million needed to enable the West Valley cities to work together as a region to mitigate our risk and improve our resiliency in the event of an emergency. I’m also grateful to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for the continued efforts she has made to provide much-needed resources for our region.”