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Governor Newsom, Speaker Rivas Take Action To Expedite Pajaro Levee Upgrades

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA— Today, Governor Gavin Newsom and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas followed through on their commitment to urgently accelerate vital flood control and levee upgrades in the Pajaro Valley.

What To Know

Governor Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 876, authored by Speaker Rivas, means that levee and waterway improvements can start as soon as possible, and will be completed years earlier, bringing improved safety to the Pajaro community.

The new law ensures that Pajaro residents will also experience a significant increase in flood protection and security, while preserving the environmental integrity of valley waterways.

Pajaro’s levee system underwent extensive damage earlier this year, when devastating storms ravaged the community, causing extensive flooding and forcing evacuations. The Governor and Speaker visited Pajaro in March, and made a commitment to quickly pursue upgrades and repairs. 

Community groups and emergency responders also came together swiftly to support Pajaronians and save lives, and are still working together to help residents in need.

What Speaker Rivas Said

“For far too long, Pajaro Valley residents have demanded investments in infrastructure to keep their river levee safe during extreme weather and storms. And today, we are answering that call and taking urgent action,” Speaker Rivas said. “I am very grateful for the Governor’s signature of this important piece of legislation, and his commitment to supporting these communities. The Pajaro River Levee needs upgrades now, and I am encouraged and relieved that we will be able to deliver them as quickly as possible.”  

How California Leaders Took Urgent Action

Speaker Rivas, who represents the Pajaro and Salinas Valleys, brought forward AB 876 to address an pressing need to speed-up the levee upgrade’s timeline. The Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the bill this legislative session.

The law fast-tracks the completion of work on the Pajaro River Levee Project and provides 100-year flood protection to communities along the river.

“Thank you to Governor Newsom for signing Speaker Rivas’ important legislation to ensure the work that needs to be done to protect Pajaro Valley residents actually gets done,” Senator John Laird of Santa Cruz said. “Last fall, we celebrated a fully funded new levee project with all the partners that made it possible. We didn't make it, but this bill will move the project start time up to make sure that doesn't happen again.”

“I’m grateful that Speaker Rivas is fulfilling California’s promise to make life better for the people of Pajaro, and I’m thankful that the Governor recognizes the urgency of this moment,” Assemblymember Dawn Addis of Morro Bay said. “Assembly Bill 876 is the right kind of approach, because it ensures we use all the tools we have to protect Pajaro residents by fixing the Pajaro River levee system instead of getting bogged down by bureaucratic hurdles.”

Earlier this year, Governor Newsom issued an executive order to expedite emergency repairs before next winter’s storms, and approved $20 million in state funds to help rebuild the community of Pajaro. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to begin construction on the levee upgrades next year.

“I was proud to support AB 876 to provide critical flood control upgrades along the Pajaro River. Residents deserve to have a safe, fortified levee system for their community and to know that they are protected from disaster. I applaud Governor Newsom for signing this important legislation that affirms his commitment to rebuild the community,” Senator Anna Caballero of Merced said.

“I am pleased we are putting the community and residents of Pajaro first. We have delivered on our promises, support and help to our state’s most vulnerable. And our work does not end today. We will continue to listen and serve the hard-working residents of this region,” Speaker Rivas said.

Find more information on Assembly Bill 876.