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VOSD Podcast: How Insurance Companies Are Tackling the ‘New Normal’ of Wildfire Risks

The foundation of a home in Fallbrook remains standing after the Lilac Fire engulfed a community. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

When it comes to preparing for wildfires, California officials seem to agree: We are living in a “new normal.”

In that new normal, climate change will cause fires that are larger and more damaging than in the past.

As VOSD’s Ry Rivard has reported recently [1], there’s one place that realization hasn’t penetrated: Insurance rates can’t take that future into account. Rates are calculated based on what’s happened in the past. So insurance companies say it’s not fair that state regulations don’t let them take the reality of climate change in to consideration.

Because of this, insurance companies warn of potential spikes in the price of insurance — and more people being denied coverage.

Host Scott Lewis summarized the issue nicely in this tweet [2].

Lewis, along with co-hosts Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby, sat down with Rivard to talk about his recent series of stories on backcountry fire risks and how the insurance industry is responding.

That discussion starts at 23:50.

A Very Dramatic Reading

Federal prosecutors continued to hammer Rep. Duncan Hunter [3] this week.

A new court filing went into detail about Hunter’s alleged intimate relationships with women who aren’t his wife, including lobbyists and congressional staffers.

The court filing alleged that after he was elected to his seat, once held by his father, he started to spend campaign money on these relationships.

Recently revealed text messages illuminate the how these relationships transpired.

At the behest of Lewis, Keatts and Libby provided a dramatic reading of an excerpt from these texts. And you should know, Keatts’ impersonation of Hunter is really something.

Catch the reading at 17:25 in the podcast.

In his own court filing Monday, Hunter attempted to get the campaign finance case against him thrown out. He argued that prosecutors were politically motivated against him because of their previous attendance at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser.

A Line is Drawn in the Mayor’s Race

Early Tuesday morning, San Diego City Councilwoman Barbara Bry sent out a mass email to promote her campaign for mayor and solicit donations. It had an alarming subject line.

“They’re coming for our homes.”

This has served as a proverbial line in the sand between Bry and her chief opponent in the mayor’s race, Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

Bry’s email went on to chastise Gloria (though never calling him by name) for securing the endorsement of the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego [4], a group that advocates for more, denser home-building. It further noted her disappointment in Gloria’s vote in favor of SB 330, which would stop cities from adopting policies that restrict new development.

The email drew criticism from young, progressive Democrats.

Afterward, Bry said she was pleased with the reaction to her message. “We struck a nerve. This is why I did it.”

See Us Live

Coming up on July 10, we have a live recording of the podcast.

We’ll be at Chula Vista Brewery [5] with Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas [6].

Get your tickets here [7]. See you soon!

Listen Now

• Listen on Apple [8]
• Listen on Google [9]
• Listen on Spotify [10]