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Assemblymember Rodriguez Introduces Legislation to Fund Broadband Capability for Fairgrounds Across the State

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D – Pomona) introduced AB 415, which would provide funding for fairgrounds to establish broadband to host emergency response operations. Fairgrounds are essential sites up and down the State when California faces a catastrophe. Despite how often fairgrounds serve as a site for emergency response operations, many lack high-speed internet capabilities.

“As Chair of the Emergency Management Committee, I find it crucial that our fairgrounds are equipped with the necessary broadband capabilities to host emergency response operations. Often, these sites house large numbers of people during a disaster, and victims and first responders rely on the internet to communicate and receive up-to-date information,” stated Assemblymember Rodriguez.

Over the past decade, 71 of the 74 fairgrounds in the State were activated in response to an emergency. Many of these fairgrounds were activated more than once in a calendar year. These fairgrounds were used to host emergency personnel responding to fires, to house evacuees, and even served as COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

Several fairgrounds throughout the State, especially rural fairgrounds, need more broadband infrastructure to host emergency responders and evacuees. A 2020 study by the California State University of Chico compared rural versus urban fairgrounds and found that rural fairgrounds are 15-20% less likely to have connection speeds capable of even a two-person video call.

AB 415 would work to solve this ongoing issue by establishing a grant program administered by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). This program would allow state-designated fairgrounds to build and upgrade their broadband communication infrastructure. Cal OES will determine funding awards based on each fairgrounds’ individual need in servicing an emergency response operation.

“California is a disaster-prone state, and we must ensure our preparedness efforts are kept up on all fronts, which includes having broadband at fairgrounds that are often activated in an emergency. I want to thank my colleagues who have signed on to co-author this bill for their support and for seeing the importance of this effort,” added Assemblymember Rodriguez. 

Assemblymember Rodriguez (Twitter) represents the 53rd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, and Upland. He is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management.