California Governor Gavin Newsom today certified the Town of Paradise and adjacent unincorporated Butte County as “rural areas,” making those communities eligible for loans, grants and technical assistance under rural development programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“We’re standing with this community for the long haul. Starting with my first budget action in January that backfilled the County’s lost property taxes, to additional financial support in June’s budget, the state continues to work closely with the community in coordinating the recovery process and planning for the future,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “I’m grateful to colleagues from the legislature, both state and federal, for their partnership and persistence in finding every dollar available to help Camp Fire survivors.”
Based on the United States 2010 Census data, the population of the Town of Paradise prior to the Camp Fire was an estimated 26,800. The Camp Fire destroyed around 90 percent of the town, including more than 14,000 residences. A door-to-door survey in April this year revealed only 2,034 residents in Paradise. The destruction of 2,158 homes within Magalia also led to a significant decrease in population from its pre-fire population of 11,310. Concow’s pre-fire population was 710.
Working in partnership with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), State Assemblymember James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and State Senators Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), Governor Newsom exercised this executive authority under a provision included in legislation signed by the President last month.
“After last year’s Camp Fire, I was able to include a provision in a federal funding bill that would allow Paradise to qualify for additional federal recovery funds. I’m very pleased that Governor Newsom today is using that provision to certify Paradise as eligible for this important rural development assistance. It will help the community recover from the devastating wildfire that killed 85 and destroyed 14,000 homes, truly a heartbreaking tragedy,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA).
“This certification represents a collaboration of all levels of government in order to get people the help they need. In May, Senator Feinstein and I authored language in the disaster aid bill to make Paradise eligible for this funding, which the President signed into law. Now, with Governor Newsom’s certification, millions of dollars of funds are unlocked to help the community recover, and I thank all involved for their tireless attention to the wellbeing of those affected by this disaster. We will leave no stone unturned to secure the funds needed to recover,” said Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale).
“I want to thank California USDA Administrator Kim Vann for her help in clearing the hurdles in the recovery process. This response shows bi-partisan leadership the people of the Northstate deserve,” said State Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber).
“Thanks to the swift action of Governor Newsom, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Paradise will be eligible for additional funding that can be used for housing, wasterwater projects, and other rebuilding efforts. This action, along with funding included in the state budget and recently passed legislation, will facilitate the rebuilding of our community,” said State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama).
“Today’s action will no doubt unlock precious resources to help the Town and surrounding communities recover. But perhaps more importantly, it provides hope at a time when it’s needed most. This hope and optimism of all levels of government across the political spectrum working together will ensure a stronger and more resilient Paradise into the future,” said State Assemblymember James Gallagher (R-Yuba City).
The USDA defines a “rural area” as any town, village, city or place that is not part of, or associated with, an urban area and has a population less than 2,500. Communities with a population greater than 2,500 but less than 10,000, and that are rural in character, may also be certified as a “rural area.” Section 108 within H.R. 2157 – Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, passed by Congress on June 3, 2019, provides that the Governor may certify a rural community impacted by the Camp Fire as a rural area for purposes of eligibility for loans, grants and technical assistance under rural development programs funded by the Department of Agriculture.