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Governor Signs Cervantes Proposal to Address the Needs of Vulnerable Populations in Emergency Planning

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 477 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) into law. Assembly Bill 477 ensures that representatives from access and functional needs populations are included in local emergency transportation planning. 

Current law authorizes cities and counties to create disaster councils, by ordinance, to develop plans for meeting any condition constituting a local emergency or state of emergency, including, but not limited to, earthquakes, natural or manmade disasters specific to that jurisdiction, or state of war emergency. However, there are inconsistencies across the state regarding emergency management planning for our vulnerable communities.

Natural disasters disproportionately affect individuals with access and functional needs. In the recent wildfires that ravaged the State of California, it was found that those impacted were disproportionately seniors and individuals with disabilities, who are often among those left behind to suffer. Assembly Bill 477 seeks to change this by requiring cities and counties to include representatives and members of the access and functional needs population to their respective emergency plans upon the next update. Specifically, the emergency plan will include representatives from the access and functional needs population, including, but not limited to, social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, and transportation providers.

“I am grateful that Governor Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 477. As a state, we must strive to understand the needs of our most vulnerable communities throughout all phases of emergency response operations,” said Assemblymember Cervantes. “AB 477 is an important step towards the inclusion of our access and functional needs populations in both the implementation and execution of emergency planning to ensure the safety of all Californians. Forging collaborative partnerships with stakeholders that directly work with access and functional needs populations is necessary to achieving this goal.”

Existing law defines "access and functional needs population" as individuals who have developmental or intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, chronic conditions, injuries, limited English proficiency or who are non-English speaking, older adults, children, people living in institutionalized settings, or those who are low income, homeless, or transportation disadvantaged, including, but not limited to, those who are dependent on public transit or those who are pregnant.

The provisions of Assembly Bill 477 will go into effect January 1, 2020. You can find more information about the bill, here.

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Sabrina Cervantes proudly represents the 60th District of the California State Assembly, which encompasses the cities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco, a portion of Riverside, and the unincorporated communities of Coronita, El Cerrito, and Home Gardens. Cervantes serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy.