what is sb 901

Who Pays for Fire Damages?

what is sb 901

Wildfires ravaged the California wilderness this year causing millions upon millions of dollars in property damage. After the ash and smoke settled, many people began to wonder who would be financially responsible for all of the damage. In some instances, it falls onto a single individual. In others, the weight of the financial burden falls onto companies.

The latter has been a very big deal as of late, since Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been deemed responsible for dozens of wildfires that ravaged Northern California last year. Thanks to recent passing Senate Bill (SB) 901, PG&E will be able to push some of the financial cost of paying for the damages onto its customers. This applies to any fires started by utility companies in 2017.

Starting in 2019, all utility companies will be able to foot some of the fire-related costs onto their customers. However, they can only do this after it has been determined that the fires in question were not caused by the company’s negligence. This all led to huge debate up in Sacramento on whether or not this was rewarding Utility companies for their bad behavior.

The bill passed largely due to the fact that the state needs answers for how to deal with massive wildfires. Aside from allowing utility companies to pass on fire costs to consumers, it also opens up doors for property owners to better manage their land in order to prevent fires. The hope is that this is all a step in the right direction to help reduce and prevent massive, out of control wildfires in California.

What do you think of this aspect of SB 901? Is it fair to allow utility companies to pass on the cost of fire damages to their customers? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

whatis ab626

Where Is Your Food Prepared?

whatis ab626

Everybody is a fan of good food, and most people would argue that the best food out there isn’t found in restaurants. The best food is found in family kitchens. Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend of people selling food that they made in their own homes. While this often provides people with some of the best food they have ever tasted, it does pose a few health concerns. That is why the practice was illegal in the state of California.

The key word there, is was. Starting January of 2019, entrepreneurs will be able to sell food they prepared in their home kitchens. This change came about thanks to Assembly Bill 626, which was authored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia. The hope was that this bill would allow people who couldn’t afford to get into the restaurant business to still get into it.

Before the aspiring new chef can get started selling their meals, they will need to get a permit to do so first. This permit will allow a person to become what is called a micro enterprise home kitchen (MHK). An MHK would have to sell less than 60 meals a week, deal directly with their customers, and consent to inspections by local health officials if a complaint has been received.

A benefit to this bill, is that it exempts MHKs from certain rules that apply to restaurants, but don’t really make sense for home kitchens. A couple examples would be the rule that kitchens can’t have openings that lead directly to living spaces, and that kitchens have to have a 3-compartment sink. MHKs would not have meet these standards.

What do you think of this new law? Is it a great step forward for those looking to make a living selling their home cooking, or does it pose too much of a health risk? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

insurance laws in california

Should You Have Insurance?

insurance laws in california

When you grow up, you start to realize all the things you weren’t taught about in school. For example insurance. All insurance, auto, house, and life, are all big giant mysteries. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re the only one who doesn’t understand how it works, a lot of people don’t. We don’t learn about it in school, so why is it even important?

Insurance provides us the means to survive an accident. Whether that’s a car accident, natural disaster, or death, insurance is there to help. The best way of explaining the general idea of insurance, is by thinking back to grade school. In school you more than likely had a best friend that you would do anything for and they would always have your back. Insurance is like your best friend who will always have your back, except with insurance you have to pay them.

If you’ve ever experienced a death in the family, you’ll understand the importance of life insurance. Life insurance is basically putting a value on someone’s life. Say there’s a married couple and the husband is the “bread winner” of the family, while the wife stays home and takes care of the kids. One day, the husband dies. The widow would be at a loss if it weren’t for her husband’s life insurance policy. His life insurance policy helps cover the funeral costs and other expenses. Some life insurance policies are big enough where the widow wouldn’t have to worry about working.

Car insurance is mandatory unless you’re sitting on a pile of gold. In California it’s not illegal to live without it. Under California law, according to Department of Motorized Vehicles, you must have financial means to cover any costs related to accidents. California law requires proof of your ability to pay or cover the costs. This essentially means that you don’t need insurance but you also have to be able to pay up to $30,000 in possible damages. Unless you have an extra $30,000 laying around, you’re probably going to need car insurance.

House/Renters insurance is a practical must if you’re not living at home anymore. It’s especially necessary when you live in a place that is earthquake prone. While the state of California doesn’t require homeowners insurance, or renters insurance, you’re probably still required to have it by someone. Your bank who you financed your home may require it. Your landlord may require it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have either. You’ll be surprised at what home/renters insurance could include.

If you feel overwhelmed by it all, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just remember that whenever you don’t understand an insurance policy, ask the insurance provider for more information. Understanding what is covered, who is covered, and how they’re covered can make being an adult much easier.

how to keep your home safe

How to Keep Your Home Safe

how to keep your home safe

In an article written by Matthew Wilson for Property Guard Master, Wilson cites that in the United States alone there is a home intrusion every thirteen seconds. Furthermore, there are an astounding 2.5 million home burglaries reported each year. Of those 2.5 million home burglaries, 60% of them happen between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Despite these staggering numbers, only 13% of burglaries end in an arrest.

Did you know that 87% of burglaries are considered preventable? So how do you help prevent such home invasions? We’ve got some suggestions. We know it can be tempting to post about an upcoming vacation, but don’t. It can be hard to know exactly who is viewing your posts and you don’t want the wrong person finding out that your house is going to be empty for a prolonged period of time.

It is also a good idea to have a security system installed in your home. Only 17% of houses in the United States have a security system even though this could be a big deterrent for an intruder. If you can’t afford a security system, be sure every door is equipped with a deadbolt lock and that you do not hide any spare keys outside of your home.

If you do go on vacation, or have a crazy work schedule, it is important to make it seem as though your home is being lived in. If you’re heading out on vacation, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your newspaper and mail each day so that it does not pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. You should also consider leaving a light on in a few rooms in your home so when night time comes around it appears as though someone is there. It’s also smart to keep your bushes and shrubs trimmed so it looks like someone is regularly doing yard maintenance.

As hard as it may be, it’s important to always be one step ahead of a possible intruder. By following these tips above and being aware of what is going on in and around your neighborhood you can help prevent an intrusion.

staying safe on social media

5 Tips for Protecting Yourself While Enjoying Social Media

staying safe on social media

Social media is a huge part of most of our lives. Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter not only can we easily stay in touch with friends and family, but can also learn of community events, help develop a fledgling business, and more.

The downside to social media is that it provides another avenue for danger to enter your life. It seems like every few days, there’s another news story about how social media was used to target someone, either for bullying or break-ins. It’s enough to make anyone seriously consider deleting all of their social media accounts.

You’ll be pleased to know that as long as your careful and follow these tips, you can continue to enjoy your favorite social media sites and also keep you and your family safe.

Don’t Post Vacation Updates/Pictures Until you Get Home

Sure, you’re getting great photos of you vacation and you can’t wait to start showing them off to your friends and family, but hold off for a few days. Wait until you get home before loading everything onto your social media accounts. By not talking about your vacation until you get home, you don’t accidentally alert a would be burglar that your home is empty and vulnerable. The same is true for checking into events and businesses, just wait until your home.

Avoid Public Hot Spots

Ninety-five percent of the people who use public hotspots are good people, but there are a few that use these hotspots to hack into computers and steal a great deal of information, including the passwords to your social media account. Once they have the password, they can use it to create all sorts of havoc. If you have to use a public hot spot, make sure you log out of any site that requires a password.

Know Who You’re Associating With

When you get a friend request or suddenly have someone contacting you a lot through social media accounts, take some time to explore that person’s profile. If it has very little information and none that would indicate you have anything in common with the person, block them right away. These types of empty accounts are created by people who intend to steal your personal information and your friend’s lists so they can hack into even more accounts.

Take Care When Following or Posting Links

One of the easiest ways for hackers to access social media accounts is by posting faulty links. Each time one of these links is opened or shared, the hacker becomes a bigger, and more sinister, online presence. The best way to protect yourself from these types of predators is by only posting links that were created by a trusted source.

Update Your Passwords

Even if you only suspect that your account has been hacked or you get a report that a friend’s account has been hacked, you need to change you password. It’s the single best way to protect yourself. Make sure the password is a strong one that uses a mix of upper/lower case letters and numbers.

safe biking in california

Safe Biking in California

safe biking in california

Deciding to ride your bike wherever you need to go instead of taking your car is always a great idea. Not only is this choice better for the environment, it’s also a great way to stay in shape. Unfortunately, deciding to hop on your bike rather than into your car is risky. In 2016 840 cyclists were killed and in 2015, insurance companies dealt with 467,000 bicycle related injuries.

The best way to don’t become one of these statistics is by making safety your number one priority.

Increase your Visibility

One of the reasons so many cyclists are struck by cars is because the cyclist is hard to see. Attaching a few more reflectors and some flashing lights to your bike dramatically increase the odds of you making it home safely after your ride. You should also wear bright clothing that has reflective strips woven into the material. The brighter you are, the easier it is for passing motorists to see you coming.

If you’re biking at night, stick to well-lit areas.

Chose a Safe Route

Before hopping on your bike, grab a map and really think about what the safest route is. Look for routes that allow you to ride on some of the great California bike pats that exist all over the state. Try to avoid any areas that are heavily trafficked. It’s smarter to take a route that adds extra time to your commute than to run the risk of a car/bicycle collision.

Use Hand Signals

Hand signals are as important to cyclists as blinkers are to drivers. They let everyone know what move you’re about to do, which allows everyone around you to drive defensively. Using the hand signals might seem strange for a few days, but it won’t be long before it becomes second nature.

Be Aware of You Surroundings

Don’t assume that drivers are going to look out for you. You need to be aware of where they are and how they’re driving. If one is getting to close or doesn’t appear to know that you’re on the bike, you need to take defensive measures. The sooner you act, the greater the odds are that you’ll make it home in one piece.

Wear a Helmet

Your helmet is a huge safety tool. Not only does it protect you from head injuries if you fall off your bike, but also softens blows from things like low hanging tree limbs. Having a helmet on if you’re in an accident decreases the odds of you losing conciseness and increases the odds of you being able to make decisions that help you get out of the way of falling debris, oncoming traffic, and other dangers after you’ve fallen from your bike.

Stay safe and happy cycling!

how to handle cyberbullying

Handling a Cyberbully

how to handle cyberbullying

Bullying has always been a problem, but prior to the creation of the internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, most bullying was done by someone the victim knew. That’s no longer the case. These days, you can be bullied by someone you’ve never met, who lives on the other side of the world, and all because you dared state your opinion about something on your social media account.

If you’re a victim of cyberbullying, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Shut Down Your Computer

One of the best things you can do when it comes to a cyberbully is shutting down your computer, or at the very least logging of your social media accounts for a little while. This put space between you and the person who is trying to bully you. In many cases, when a victim doesn’t respond to the cyberbully, the person loses interest and looks for a more interesting victim. When you log back into your accounts, you can delete bullying comments and move on with your life.

Save Some Screenshots

If ignoring the cyberbully doesn’t cause them to go away, you should avoid engaging with them, but you should also click screen shots of all their comments. If the situation escalates, these screen shots can be used to build a case against the cyberbully. Make sure you save the screenshots so that even if your computer crashes, the screenshots will survive. Most experts recommend saving them to both a cloud storage system and an external drive.

Contact the Police

Cyberbullying is a serious matter. In an increasing number of cases, getting the bully to quit has involved police involvement. Indicators that it’s time to stop dealing with the situation on your own and that you need to contact the police include when threats of physical violence are being made or when despite your best efforts, the harassment simply doesn’t stop. According to data collected by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 82% of police officers feel that cyberbullying is a serious offense that requires police involvement.

Don’t give any indication that you’re contacting law enforcement. Simply hand over all the evidence you’ve collected and let the cyberbully be surprised when the police, arrest warrant in hand, knock on their door. Any bullying that goes on between the time you contact the police and the cyberbully is arrested will strengthen your case.

rialto bail bonds

3 Tips to Increase Your Credit Score

how to increase credit score

It’s a situation no one ever wants to be in, but it’s one that you may face in your lifetime.

Picture this: You’ve just been arrested, you’ve been booked and given a bail amount, and you’ve called someone for assistance. Now, you sit and wait in a holding cell while a loved one contacts a bail agent to help obtain your freedom. However, there’s a problem. The bail agency cannot issue a bond because, after running a credit report, their credit score isn’t high enough.

This is a serious problem because now you’re forced to sit in jail and wait until your court appearance. However, this is an avoidable problem. The answer is simple – keep your credit score up so that you never have to worry about it being too low to be approved. But what exactly is a good credit score? There is no right answer, however, according to Experian a credit score can range between 300 and 850. See below for an in-depth look at the credit score breakdown, courtesy of Experian.

experian credit score chart

In order to help ensure you and your loved ones have a good enough credit score to be approved for a bail bond, a home, or anything in between, we’ve compiled a list of three steps you can take starting today.

    1. Pay your bills on time – According to Credit Karma, one of the most important things lenders care about is the likelihood you are going to pay them back. This is determined through your history of paying your bills on time. By paying all of your bills on time you show lenders that you’re reliable and will uphold your end of the bargain.

    2. Pay off your debt – In order to grant you a loan, lenders want to ensure that you have enough room in your monthly expenses to be able to afford another bill. Be sure to pay down your current debt as quickly as possible so you have room for unexpected necessities.

    3. Don’t open too many credit cards at the same time – When you open a new line of credit, it creates a “hard line” on your credit report which stays there for two years. This could create a negative effect on your credit report.

If you’re looking to increase your credit score, it’s important to know what your score is. There are a lot of free websites that will allow you to check it for free, utilize them. Keep in mind that improving your credit score takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll want to ensure that you follow these three tips every month and develop good financial habits.

noise complaint laws

Annoying Neighbors Getting to You?

noise complaint laws

When you move into your first house or apartment, you’re faced with new problems that you previously never considered before. Things like what kind of paper towels to buy, where to do laundry, how to do laundry, and many other adult tasks. When you decide on a first home, you mainly are focused on appearances. If the potential home looks good, and has everything you need, you’re probably going to jump at the opportunity to rent or own it. What you didn’t pay attention to, are the finer details. For example, you didn’t notice that the neighbors are continuously loud.

Loud neighbors can take away from any exciting moment. You could be watching an intense scene of your favorite show only to be cut off by your neighbor’s home garage band. You could be on the phone with your boss and your boss might hear yelling from your neighbors. This could be frustrating to anyone. First, it’s courteous to give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt. You should try approaching them and explaining your grievances about the noise issues.

If confronting your neighbors about the noise issues doesn’t work, the next step is contacting your landlord. If you don’t have a landlord, you’ll skip to the following step of contacting the police. Before you contact the police you need to make sure you’re contacting them for a good reason. Your neighbors need to be either causing excessive noise during quiet hours, high decibel noise, or unreasonable noise.

California has the Noise Control Act that helps provide Californians with silence. The act is a part of the California Health and Safety Code. It acknowledges that excessive noise is detrimental to public health and welfare. The act also recognizes that Californians have the fundamental right to peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their property without unnecessary noise.

Annoying neighbors who cause too much noise can receive fines for disturbing the peace. They could also receive multiple fines if they break their county’s laws about noise. Each county has different laws regarding to quiet hours, and what is considered excessive noise. City areas will have different ordinances than rural areas will. To know more about the noise laws where you live, you will need to look at your county and city’s ordinances.

secret home video surveillance laws

What’s Legal and What’s Not When Placing Hidden Cameras in Your Home

secret home video surveillance laws

The Fourth Amendment was designed to protect people while they were in the comfort of their own home. It prevents law enforcement from entering the home without a warrant. The problem with the Fourth Amendment was that it was written and signed into law long before secret video surveillance was even possible.

Many people believe that the secret home video surveillance is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, however courts across the country disagree. They feel that if an undercover agent is invited into a person’s home, even if they don’t have a warrant, they’re allowed to use a hidden camera to videotape what is located in the house and what activities are currently taking place within the home.

Whenever the topic of secret home video surveillance and the Fourth Amendment come up, prosecutors refer back to a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Hoffa v. U.S. In that particular case, the Supreme Court justices ruled against Hoffa, stating that just because the incriminating data had been gathered by an undercover officer without Hoffa’s knowledge, it didn’t mean the evidence wasn’t admissible in court.

Another example of when the courts felt that secret home video surveillance didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment was when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched an investigation against Ricky Wahchumwah. The agency suspected that Wahchumwah was illegally poaching and selling eagles and various eagle parts. The agency assigned a special agent to the case. He approached Wahchumwah and struck up a relationship with the suspected poacher, claiming that they shared an interest in eagles. The special agent even went as far as purchasing eagle wings from Wahchumwah, something that was very illegal.

Later, when the special agent visited Wahchumwah in the suspect’s house, he had a video recording unit hidden on his body. The agent used the video recorder to keep a record of everything that was in Wahchumwah’s house, including a notebook that contained detailed information about previous sales. The Fish and Wildlife Service used the video as grounds to obtain a warrant to search Wahchumwah’s property. The video, combined with other evidence they uncovered during the search, was enough to get an arrest warrant.

Wahchumwah was found guilty of violating the Lacey Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. He appealed the conviction and brought it to the Supreme Court who ruled that the since Wahchumwah knowingly revealed the information that was used to obtain the search warrant, the Fourth Amendment wasn’t violated.

Today, law enforcement agencies through California use secret home video footage to obtain information about drug, gang, and even fraud related cases.

Can the Police bug your house? Do they have the right to do it?

First, a court order is required to enter a home and install a listening device. The Court will only issue such an order if a law enforcement officer, under oath, swears there is probable cause (meaning a reason to believe) that someone is committing or about to commit a serious crime inside the house, that particular communications concerning that offense will be obtained through intercepting the conversations, and that agents have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain information concerning such criminal activity through other means –or that it would be too dangerous to try. If the agents and prosecutor persuade the judge to authorize the placement of a listening device in the home, it will only be for thirty days unless the judge extends it.

Conversations that do not involve criminal activity should not be recorded or listened to once their non-criminal nature is determined. Progress reports should be filed with the Court periodically so the Judge can assess whether the goals of the investigation are being met by the interceptions. Bedrooms and bathrooms are rarely bugged due to the obvious enhanced privacy interests in such rooms. And finally, some of the above may not apply in the case of The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which establishes procedures for electronic surveillance of foreign agents.

Is it ok to record conversations with a hidden audio device?

The laws on audio surveillance are a bit clearer than the laws governing hidden camera surveillance. If you’re planning to record a telephone call or an in-person conversation (using either a standalone audio recorder or a video camera that also captures sound), federal and state laws require that at least one of the parties consent to the recording. Currently, a majority of states allow “one-party consent.” States that require two-party consent include California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. (Hawaii is something of a hybrid state. It allows one-party consent for audio recordings, but it requires two-party consent if the recording device is located in a “private place.”)

Today, law enforcement agencies through California use secret home video footage to obtain information about drug, gang, and even fraud related cases. Do you know if someone has installed a secret surveillance camera in your house? Do you notice something unusual?