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Councilmembers propose leasing Antioch motel for homeless, possible FEMA trailer site

Posted in: News, Community, City Council, Homeless | Comments (0)

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street. Photos by Allen Payton

Up to $1 million annual price tag

By Allen Payton

An idea first proposed seven years ago, by a then-homeless Antioch man, Rafael Scott and the late Mike Pollard, of the Golden Hills Community Church’s Community Outreach Center (COC) to use the unrented motel rooms at the Executive Inn, located next door at 515 E. 18th Street, received a breath of new life, Tuesday. Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts, joined by advocates and representatives of ministries and other non-profit organizations serving the homeless in Antioch, announced on Tuesday a proposal to have the city lease the entire 32-room motel to serve as transitional housing.

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts speaks during the press conference.

Thorpe said he was making the proposal “as a member of the transitional housing task force (the new name for the Antioch City Council’s Homeless Encampment Task Force), with Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts” and “working with our business community.”

“It was her vision, her idea,” he said. “So, she’s the reason we are here, today.”

“We started this journey almost two years ago. We really didn’t have any idea what we were getting into,” Motts said. “Homelessness is a very complex issues affecting many, many people. We did much, much research.”

“We were spending millions and millions of dollars moving people from one place to the next,” Motts stated. “It’s affecting our commercial businesses and our quality of life. We received trailers from the state we’re still trying to find a location for. I’m so thankful to the owners of the Executive Inn…to provide transitional housing…to get people off the streets. 97% who get into housing stay there.”

We are very fortunate to have a local hotel willing to work with the city to house people on a transitional basis,” Thorpe said.

Owner Summer Desai interviewed by a KPFA radio reporter in one of the rooms with a single king-size bed.

Summer and Jyoti Desai have owned the motel since 2004.

“The county voucher program lasts 16 days at a discounted rate year-round,” Summer shared. “The voucher is good for 16 days once a year. It’s mainly for jobless and homeless. It’s only temporary.”

They Desais work with the county’s action team for mental health services, with Red Cross and the Contra Costa Crisis Center, for people in crisis due to a fire or flooding of their home. They also work with Shelter, Inc.

“A lot of churches place their people, here,” he said. They work with the Golden Hills’ COC, next door to temporarily place people in the motel rooms, and allow them use the lot for parking.

A few years ago, Golden Hills Community Church expressed an interest in buying the motel, but the asking price of $3 million was too much. When asked if he knew about the councilmembers’ proposal, Scott said, “No. I just wish Mike were here to know about it.” Pollard passed away on Monday, July 6th. But, his and Scott’s idea may just soon be more than realized depending upon the vote of the city council. Their three-page plan proposed using the unrented rooms, which at that time were running about 40% of the motel’s occupancy, at a discounted rate for homeless individuals, as long as they were in a program at the COC to help them with such things as substance abuse problems.

The plan now is for the city to rent all the rooms at a discount, and connect those staying there with programs and services to help get them into permanent housing and mainstreamed back into society. Those staying at the motel could be there for as long as six months, Thorpe stated.

“I don’t have any problem people, here,” Summer shared. They pay a daily rate. We provide them service every day cleaning the rooms and beds. We are the only hotel that is pet friendly.”

Thorpe introduced others in attendance at the press conference. Including “our friends from Shelter, Inc. We have Love Never Fails. We have Michael Gabriel representing the downtown businesses that have been affected; Nichole Gardner, a leading advocate for homelessness in Antioch, Extended Hands Ministry, Patrice Guillory from Health Right 360 for people who have been previously incarcerated.

“This is a call to action to all East County cities. We can’t rely on the county to do all of this work,” Thorpe stated.

Nichole Gardner of Facing Homelessness in Antioch said, “I’m excited to see the city trying to do something for our homeless out on the streets. We need to get people off the streets and be productive members of society. She thanked the council members and motel owners. Mariah Williams was also in attendance representing Facing Homelessness in Antioch.

Vanessa Russell, the founder and executive director of Love Never Fails which focuses on human trafficking in Northern California, spoke next.

“Human trafficking is coming to Antioch,” she stated. “To get people housing is the right thing. Many men and women are sold online. We came into contact with two people who were being sold right here, in this area out of their hotel room.”

Russell spoke of the effort, “to come to these specific areas where people are being exploited…to provide them food, stabilization, counseling, services. IT training to give them sustainable jobs. Not giving them fish but teaching them to fish on a daily basis.”

“She has made a commitment that she will provide some sort of wrap around services,” Thorpe shared.

Patrice Guillory of Health Right 360 which focuses on health, housing and services for homeless and those who are formerly incarcerated, spoke next, saying “Our mission is to give hope and change lives.”

They’ve helped 120 people this year struggling with homelessness and other challenges.

One of the rooms with two queen size beds.

“There’s no greater time than now to tackle the problem of homelessness in Antioch,” she said. “Individuals with a history of incarceration are 10 times more likely to be homeless. Our over reliance on law enforcement is not only ineffective but wholly inefficient.”

Long time resident of Antioch and downtown business owner, Michael Gabrielson said, “We’ve been there for almost five years…we’ve seen the despair of homelessness in Antioch. This will be an improvement not only in their lives but in the community’s lives.”

“This type of transitional housing will give them support, reestablish themselves and get into permanent housing,” he continued. “If each city would take an initiative like this it would have a huge impact on our community.”

“We’re taking this to the city council, to give direction to our city manager for the potential long term lease of the entire building, all 32 rooms, plus the suites…so the homeless providers can work,” Thorpe explained. “Summer is also offering to allow the five FEMA trailers to be located on the property.”

“The initial costs are a little north of $1 million,” he shared. “But that is nothing compared to what we spend chasing people from corner to corner. It’s not working. So, we’re proposing this.”

Asked about the 16-day limit for vouchers from the county Thorpe responded, “Our goal, in generalities and principles…everyone is on a different path. Some people may be here for only a week before they find housing with relatives. What we don’t want to do is have a set policy of 16 days and tell them to get their life together overnight.”

Asked how many homeless we have in Antioch Motts said, “the last count we had 300 but with all the students and families we probably have 600.”

The Golden Hills COC, located next door, has been working with homeless and those in need in Antioch for the past 30 years. Asked why no one from the COC was included in the press conference, Motts said, “We’re going to be working with them, the pastor here already serves meals in the community for the unhoused. We’re also speaking with Loaves and Fishes. Sutter Delta is fully committed to helping.”

“This is like the governor’s turnkey program,” she explained. “We’re hoping the state will support it.”

Asked about a budget that could be approved on July 28 so the program can immediately move forward, Thorpe responded, “we can set a cap of how much.”

The next council meeting will be held online on Tuesday, July 28 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Watch it via livestream on the city’s website or on Comcast cable Channel 24 or AT&T U-verse channel 99.

If you wish to make a public comment, you may do so any of the following ways: (1) by filling out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, (2) by emailing the City Clerk prior to or during the meeting at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us, or (3) by dialing (925) 776-3057 during the meeting.

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Publisher @ July 14, 2020

Supervisors to discuss recruitment process, seek public input for County Adminstrator Twa’s replacement

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County, Government | Comments (0)

Executive search firm hired, draft recruitment brochure created

By Allen Payton

David Twa. Photo by CCC.

During their special meeting on Tuesday, July 14, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will discuss the recruitment process to replace retiring County Administrator David Twa, as well as the opportunity for public input into desirable qualifications for the ideal candidate. That’s in spite of the fact a draft recruitment brochure for the position from the recruiting firm Peckham & McKenney Executive Search, included with the meeting agenda, already describes “The Ideal Candidate,” as follows:

“You will be a well-rounded visionary leader with a strong business sense, financial acumen, and the ability to manage a large, complex organization using best practices culled from government and business environments. You must be politically astute, yet apolitical and will have an outgoing style with a professional presence. You will be naturally engaging, diplomatic, and decisive. You will also be a gifted consensus and team builder, will exercise emotional intelligence in the practice of leadership, will be committed to developing staff to their greatest potential, and will be adept in long range planning for the organization. Additionally, in today’s times, you must be a confident and courageous leader who displays sound judgment, excellent communication and people skills, strong character and uncompromising integrity. You will also have an awareness of and respect for cultural diversity, be effective and responsive in politically and ethnically diverse environments and accomplished at maintaining cooperative relations with diverse communities. Polarizing politics, changing demographic trends, increased reliance on technology and social media, and serious economic volatility are some of the current issues that you and the County will face in the next few years. Overriding these issues is the County’s desire to continue working through the current pandemic via best practices that both protect the residents and the economy, as well as addressing race and ethnicity issues in one of the most diverse counties in the state. You will work with the Board of Supervisors to identify disparities that exist in justice, health, social services and land use and will oversee strategies to reduce those disparities.”

According to the brochure, the annual salary for the position is currently $381,000. However, the salary for Twa’s replacement will be determined based on the experience and qualifications that person brings to the county.

The administrator oversees 25 different departments within the county government divided into service areas such as: Public Protection, General Government, Health and Human Services, Growth Management, Special Districts and other Authorities. There are also a number of Affiliated Organizations the County participates with or directly manages. Contra Costa County is one of the few counties in the Nation to offer a full spectrum of health-related services under one organizational structure including the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and its health centers.

The confirmed recruitment process schedule is as follows:

Resume filing deadline – September 22, 2020

Preliminary interviews – September 23-October 9, 2020

Recommendation of Candidates – October 13, 2020

Interview Process – First Round: week of October 26, 2020

Interview Process – Second Round: week of November 2, 2020

When reached for comment Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen said, “David Twa has been hinting he’s ready to retire for the past six months. On June 2nd when we did his annual evaluation during the closed session, at that point he did say, ‘I am going to leave…here are a couple recruitment firms the county has used in the past.’”

“He’s been making it known to community groups and that he wants to return to Minnesota,” she shared.

“Under agenda item C65 of our meeting on June 16th, we did go ahead and hire the recruiting firm,” Andersen continued. “There was a desire by (Supervisor) John Gioia who wants to make this a very public process. The county administrator and county counsel hiring process is not usually a public process, with candidates who don’t get hired not wanting to be known. You want to have the confidentiality.”

“So, we’ve come forward with the brochure and asking for public input,” she stated. “This is the draft of the brochure, so if someone comes up with a desired qualification that makes sense, we can add that to it.”

“We’re hoping by late fall to hire someone, and have an overlap to work with David,” Andersen shared. “We’re really focusing our recruitment on California rather than a national search…ideally someone who has a background in California law.”

“We’re not being secretive about it. Once we have the recruiting brochure finalized, then we’ll issue a public announcement,” Andersen added. “It’s an interesting, challenging time to bring on a new administrator.”

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. and can be viewed live on Comcast Cable 27, ATT/U-Verse Channel 99, and WAVE Channel 32, and can be seen live online at www.contracosta.ca.gov.

Those who wish to address the board during public comment or with respect to any item that is on the agenda may call in during the meeting by dialing 888-251-2949 followed by the access code 1672589#. To indicate you wish to speak on an agenda item, please push “#2” on your phone.

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Publisher @ July 13, 2020

Governor Newsom uses “dimmer switch” to shut down most of California, again

Posted in: News, Business, Economy, Faith, Health, State of California | Comments (0)

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to #COVID19.

Posted by California Governor on Monday, July 13, 2020

“We’re turning back into a modification mode of our stay-at-home order.” – Gov. Newsom

Order affects some activities, businesses in Contra Costa County

By Allen Payton

“Looking at the conditions…based on the trend lines, based on the science…increased positivity rates…increased hospitalizations,” California Governor Gavin Newsom announced today he is using a “dimmer switch” for statewide actions.

“We are requiring all counties to close their indoor activities, including restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, card rooms and the shuttering of all bars,” he stated.

It applies to all counties, not just those on the monitoring list. However, all of those activities have already been closed in Contra Costa County, so that part of Newsom’s order doesn’t affect those in our county.

The governor called for the expansion of “opportunities for outdoor operations,” but didn’t elaborate.

He shared additional sectors that must be shuttered in the counties on the monitoring list, of which Contra Costa County is one.

“For all the counties on the monitoring list we are directing they close indoor operations in additional sectors: fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, that includes hair salons and barber shops, and indoor malls” Newsom stated.

“It’s a dynamic list. Counties come on, counties come off,” he said.

Newsome spoke of the increasing number of cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

“As of yesterday, in the latest reporting periods, we had 8,358 cases. For the seven-day average there were 8,211 new cases per day,” he shared. “So, you see that seven-day average trending up.”

“The positivity rate has settled in and…over a 14-day period is 7.4%, over a 7-day period it’s 7.7%,” he explained. “This represents a 21% increase in positivity rate over a seven-day period.”

He also spoke of an increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

“We’re seeing a modest reduction in the rate of growth…in the total number of people hospitalized,” Newsom stated.

“That represents a 20% increase over a two-week period, last week it was a 39% increase over a two-week period,” he said.

Newsom then reiterated the wearing of masks, and said, “we’ll get through this” and thanked everyone “from the bottom of my heart for your perseverance, for your patience” and called on Californians to “our need to maintain our vigilance” and “continue to do the good work we’ve done as a state…so we can work through this, get to the other side more resilient, more capable than ever.”

Newsom then held a question and answer session.

According to a County Health Services press release, California COVID-19 closures affect some Contra Costa businesses.

Due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 activity, California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the temporary closure of several types of indoor businesses and activities.

Effective immediately, all counties must close dine-in restaurants, bars, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers such as bowling alleys and arcades, zoos and museums, and cardrooms.

None of these types of businesses had previously reopened under Contra Costa County’s social distancing ordinance and must remain closed under the state order.

Breweries, brewpubs and pubs must “close all operations indoor and outdoor statewide,” according to the state’s COVID-19 web page.

Additionally, Gov. Newsom required counties that have remained on the California Department of Public Health’s county monitoring list for three or more consecutive days to close additional businesses and activities, effective immediately.

Contra Costa does meet the criteria, so this part of the governor’s order does apply to the county. Some businesses and activities that had previously been permitted in the county are affected:

  • Offices for “non-essential” business sectors, as determined by the state – visit ca.govfor more information when it becomes available.
  • Hair salons and barber shops
  • Indoor malls

All of these businesses and activities are required by the state to close today unless their operation can be modified to be outside or by pickup.

Other businesses and activities required by the state to close in watch-list counties include indoor worship services and indoor protests, which Contra Costa also suspended with its own local order effective today.

Fitness centers and personal care services, such as nail salons and tattoo parlors, were also named in the state order but had not previously reopened in the county.

For more information about today’s order from California, visit covid19.ca.gov.

Contra Costa Health Services urges everyone to continue taking simple steps to protect themselves from COVID-19: Follow the social distancing order, and wear a face covering when you leave home or when you are near other people. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and always stay home from work or school if you are not feeling well.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus for local information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Publisher @ July 13, 2020

Contra Costa Supervisors to consider extending rent, eviction moratorium during special meeting Tuesday

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County, Finance, Government, Health, Supervisors | Comments (0)

By Allen Payton

In response to Gov. Newsom’s order on June 30 giving counties and cities the authority to extend their moratoriums on rent payments and evictions to Sept. 30, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will consider extending the county’s moratorium during their meeting on Tuesday, July 14. The current moratorium expires on Wednesday, July 15. (See agenda item D9)

The proposed ordinance applies to  offers a variety of reasons for extending the moratorium, including:

“The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health orders have resulted in the closure of many local small businesses, and have imposed extreme restrictions on other local small businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health orders are expected to result in a loss of income to a widespread portion of the local population that depend on wages or business income to pay rent and result in medical expenses for certain Contra Costa County residents.

Contra Costa County and the cities within the County are also experiencing a housing affordability crisis, which is driving homelessness and displacement of residents.

Many County residents are experiencing or will experience losses of income as a result of the local emergency and shelter-in-place orders, hindering their ability to pay rent and leaving them vulnerable to eviction.

Many of the County’s renters are rent-burdened, paying over 30 percent of their income on rent, and some renters are severely rent-burdened, paying over 50 percent of their income on rent, which leaves less money for families to spend on other necessities like food, healthcare, transportation, and education.

Without local protection, eviction notices, including notices for failure to pay rent, are likely to surge as residents and businesses are unable to earn income due to the COVID19 pandemic, or are forced to pay medical expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; and

Housing displacement due to rent increases and evictions occurring during the local emergency would hinder individuals from complying with state and local directives to shelter at home, and would lead to increased spread of COVID-19, overburdening the healthcare delivery system and potentially resulting in greater loss of life.”

If the board members vote to extend the moratorium, they will have to choose which date, up to September 30th, they want it extended.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. and can be viewed live on Comcast Cable 27, ATT/U-Verse Channel 99, and WAVE Channel 32, and can be seen live online at www.contracosta.ca.gov.

Those who wish to address the board during public comment or with respect to any item that is on the agenda may call in during the meeting by dialing 888-251-2949 followed by the access code 1672589#. To indicate you wish to speak on an agenda item, please push “#2” on your phone.

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Publisher @ July 13, 2020

Owner of NorCal K9 in Antioch sentenced to two years in state prison for animal cruelty

Posted in: News, Police & Crime, District Attorney, Pets & Animals | Comments (0)

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Garry Reynolds.

On July 10, the Honorable Patricia Scanlon sentenced the owner of NorCal K 9 Garry Reynolds (39-years-old) to two years in state prison. Earlier this year, a jury found Reynolds guilty of four felonies – all counts of animal cruelty for each dog under the care and supervision of NorCal K9, a dog training business. The jury found Reynolds was criminally negligent in the care of four animals under his company’s care in Antioch. (See related article)

Reynolds was remanded into custody immediately after he was sentenced. Judge Scanlon also denied a motion by Reynolds’ attorney to reduce the charges to misdemeanors and the motion for a new trial. Deputy District Attorney Arsh Singh prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. DDA Singh is assigned to the Felony Trial Team.

“I am satisfied the defendant will serve time in state prison due to his extreme negligence and disregard for the animals under his company’s care,” DDA Singh stated. “This case should serve as a wakeup call for any dog training company in our community. Animals deserve to be protected and treated well. Our Office will not tolerate the abuse of any animal.”

The City of Antioch started an investigation into the house where the dogs were located at 5200 Lone Tree Way. The investigation started as a code enforcement matter but progressed to a criminal investigation led by the Antioch Police Department due to a dog’s death. Two dogs were eventually euthanized due to the injuries the dogs suffered.

The investigation also led police to Devon Ashby, an employee of NorCal K9. Ashby was charged by the DA’s Office for his involvement in this case and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

The following dogs were associated with the jury’s earlier guilty verdict:

  • Gunner, Doberman
  • Favor, Cane Corso
  • Zeus, German Shepherd
  • Rambo (Bo), Labro-Poodle

Case information: People v. Garry Reynolds, Docket Number 05-191200-5

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Publisher @ July 13, 2020

Election 2020: Proposition 19 is latest assault on taxpayers

Posted in: Opinion, Politics & Elections, Seniors, Taxes | Comments (0)

OPINION

By Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The assaults on California property owners and taxpayers never stop. And once again the California Legislature has advanced a massive tax increase at the last possible moment when they thought no one was paying attention.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 11 (ACA11), approved by the California Legislature, takes away Proposition 13 protections that California families have under current law and replaces them with a billion-dollar tax increase. Voters will have an opportunity to reject this scheme come November, as ACA11 will appear on the ballot as Proposition 19.

After the historic passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Californians finally had certainty about their future property tax liability because increases in the “taxable value” of property were limited to 2 percent per year. Property would be reassessed to market value only when it changed hands. To prevent families from getting hit with huge tax increases, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 58 in 1986, changing the state constitution to ensure that transfers of certain property between parents and children could occur without triggering the sticker shock of reassessment.

Under Prop. 58, a home of any value and up to a million dollars of assessed value of other property may be transferred between parents and children without reassessment. Proposition 19 (2020) would repeal Proposition 58 (1986) and force the reassessment of inherited or transferred property within families. The only exception is if the property is used as the principal residence of the person to whom it was transferred, and even that exclusion is capped.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the repeal of the “intergenerational transfer protections” guaranteed by Props. 58 and 193 will result in 40,000 to 60,000 families getting hit with higher property taxes every year. Prop. 19’s massive tax increase has been included in this initiative to offset another proposed constitutional change: the expansion of the ability for older homeowners to move to a replacement home and transfer their base-year property tax assessment from their previous home to the new property. While this “portability” expansion has some merit, voters rejected this idea in 2018. Oddly, the backers of the proposal think they can sell it again by adding a tax increase.

As ill-advised as Proposition 19 is as matter of policy, the contortions executed by the California Legislature to place it on the ballot were nothing short of bizarre. The primary sponsor of ACA11 was the California Association of Realtors (CAR) which first wrote a similar proposal as an initiative and gathered signatures to put it on the ballot. It appears CAR is motivated by the desire to churn more home sales, even at the expense of a multi-billion-dollar tax increase.

For reasons related to placating progressive Democrats in the Legislature as well as labor unions, CAR wanted to withdraw its previously qualified initiative and have the Legislature replace it with a similar tax increase proposal.

But something funny happened on the way to the ballot. CAR missed the constitutional deadline for withdrawing its initiative, so as a matter of law, it appeared that there would be two nearly identical measures on the ballot, causing confusion, not to mention additional costs. So, Secretary of State Padilla dutifully took the CAR measure off the ballot even though he had already certified it under the procedures set forth in the California Constitution.

Our current political establishment ignores all rules and laws when it comes to achieving a desired political end. And, as usual, the desired end here is billions of dollars in higher property taxes.

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Publisher @ July 12, 2020

Oh my heaven, on 7-11: New county health order bans indoor church services again, outdoor diners must wear masks except when eating and more

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County, Faith, Government, Health | Comments (0)

More than 8% of Contra Costa COVID-19 tests now positive

From Contra Costa County Health Services

Due to a sharp rise in the percentage of COVID-19 tests returning positive in the community, Contra Costa County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano today, Saturday, July 11, 2020 amended its social distancing health order to temporarily tighten face-covering requirements and prohibit indoor gatherings where there is elevated risk of spreading the virus. (See details, here and CCC Full Health Order 07-11-20)

Local data show that 8.04 percent of COVID-19 tests administered over the past seven days were positive, a sign that the virus is spreading rapidly in the county and that the community must take immediate steps to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Contra Costa is especially concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor gatherings, and in gatherings that involve removing face coverings for eating and drinking.

When Contra Costa received authorization (variance) from the California Department of Public Health in June to allow the reopening of some businesses and activities, the plan we submitted indicated that an 8% testing positivity rate would trigger the review and reconsideration of reopening activities in the county.

Other indicators show COVID-19 is on the rise in Contra Costa communities. The seven-day average number of new cases identified in the county rose from 38 on June 8 to 146 on July 8, while the seven-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose from 17 to 54 during the same period. As of Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. there are no 77 COVID-19 patients in Contra Costa County hospitals. (See more statistics on the CCHealth Coronavirus Dashboard)

The 209 adult intensive care unit beds in Contra Costa County hospitals are on average a little more than half-full on a given day, including COVID-19 patients and patients with other health concerns.

Given the rapid spread of local cases, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is concerned that the number of patients needing intensive care could quickly exceed capacity.

According to the new health order, indoor worship services are temporarily prohibited, effective on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Services held earlier on Sunday, July 12, are not subject to this change.

Certain categories of outdoor gatherings, including worship services and social protests, are permitted at any size in Contra Costa so long as state health guidelines are followed, including physical distancing and appropriate use of face coverings. (State guidelines for outdoor worship services and protests)

In outdoor dining settings, staff and customers must now observe face covering requirements at all times, except when putting food or drink in the mouth. The new order also increases guidance for businesses that serve alcohol with meals to better align with state guidelines.

Members of extended family “social bubbles” must now always use face coverings when together, except when putting food or drink in the mouth.

Contra Costa County hopes to ease these enhanced, extraordinary safety measures as soon as possible, and will review available health system data daily to determine when it is safe to do so.

CCHS urges everyone to continue taking simple steps to protect themselves from COVID-19: Follow the social distancing order, and wear a face covering when you go out or are near other people. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and always stay home from work or school if you are not feeling well.

In response, the following questions were sent to Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen and the county health communications staff:

Why are indoor church services being shut down, again?

What statistics can you show that they were the direct cause of the spike in the recent COVID-19 cases in our county? Especially since those who attend worship services have been required to social distance and wear masks while attending an indoor service.

Might it be from other activities such as swimming or a variety of other activities?

Is everyone who gets tested given a questionnaire in which they report what their activities have been for the previous 14 days? If so, can you please provide a copy of the questionnaire?

If not, how do you know and are you merely making assumptions and an arbitrary decision to once again unfairly target people of faith who have the most First Amendment protections while exercising their freedom of religion than any other activity in our nation, since they also have the freedom of peaceful assembly?

Finally, how many of the positive cases in our county are from people outside of the county being brought into our county from elsewhere?

Please check back later for answers to these questions and more.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to read the new health order, and for local information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Publisher @ July 11, 2020

New name. Same game: now labeled Delta Conveyance Project, the bypass tunnel diverting water south moves forward – Part 1 of 2

Posted in: News, Delta & Environment, Water | Comments (0)

Proposed Delta Conveyance Project Facility Corridor Options. From Scoping Summary Report.

This week’s DCP Environmental Planning Update includes:

  • Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approval of Soil Collection Activities
  • Announcement of Federal Environmental Review

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

By Allen Payton

Photo by Department of Water Resources.

What was planned as two tunnels beneath the California Delta to divert fresh water from north of the Delta to areas south including as far away as the Municipal Water District serving Los Angeles, is now a single tunnel plan that is referred to as the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). The state previously referred to the two tunnel project as the WaterFix.

Although the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) rescinded all approvals of the WaterFix twin tunnel project last year, the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority continues engineering and geotechnical work on the single tunnel project under DWR’s supervision.

On May 2, 2019 the DWR announced it was taking formal steps to withdraw proposed permits for the WaterFix project and began a renewed environmental review and planning process for a smaller, single tunnel project that will protect a critical source of water supplies for California. Those actions implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction earlier in 2019, to modernize the state’s water delivery infrastructure by pursuing a smaller, single tunnel project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project will be designed to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish. The actions also follow the governor’s executive order directing state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.

The purpose of the new DCP is “to develop new diversion and conveyance facilities in the Delta necessary to restore and protect the reliability of State Water Project (SWP) deliveries and, potentially, Central Valley Project (CVP) water deliveries south of the Delta, consistent with the State’s Water Resilience Portfolio [WRP].”

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot describes it as “A smaller project, coordinated with a wide variety of actions to strengthen existing levee protections, protect Delta water quality, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, and strengthen local water supplies across the state” that “will build California’s water supply resilience.”

The tunnel will be drilled 150 feet underground.

No Participation by Contra Costa Water Agencies

So, the effort to move fresh Delta water south, continues. But none of the water agencies in Contra Costa County are part of the DCA. They all either oppose or have chosen to remain neutral on the proposed tunnel in the face of almost complete opposition by county residents.

Instead, Contra Costa County is part of the five-member Delta Counties Coalition, along with Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo Counties all opposing the tunnel project.

However, there are four county residents who are members of the DCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Learn more about them, their opposition to the project and what they’re doing to limit and ensure the project mitigates any impact on county residents and businesses in Part 2 of this report.

The DCA participating state water contractors include the following agencies:

  • Alameda County Water District (At Large)
  • Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7 (At Large)
  • Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency (At Large)
  • Coachella Valley Water District (At Large)
  • Metropolitan Water District of  Southern California (2 Permanent Seats)
  • Mojave Water Agency (At Large)
  • San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (At Large)
  • San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (At Large)
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (Permanent Seat)

DCA officers serve two-year terms. The SWC At Large Director and Alternate Director represent all participating State Water Contractors without a permanent Board seat. Directors and Alternate Directors are determined by the participating State Water Contractors. In addition, the Joint Powers Agreement allocates a Board seat to Kern County Water Agency. This seat is currently unfilled as Kern County Water Agency has not joined the DCA

Photo by California Dep’t of Water Resources.

$11 Billion Price Tag Could Quadruple

According to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, “the $11 billion figure quoted for construction of the Delta Conveyance Project is dated and incomplete. The $11 billion figure is in 2018 dollars. In 2018, Metropolitan Water District claimed inflation for construction should be calculated at 5% interest annually. That puts the project over $12 billion today without all the mitigation measures discussed by the Design Construction Authority in stakeholder meetings with Delta community members. These externalized mitigation costs will be absorbed by taxpayers.

Before bond interest, and with externalized mitigation costs, inflation roughly would put construction costs closer to $20 billion. Bond interest generally speaking would double the cost to $40 billion. And if the state is going to make Delta communities whole and leave the Delta ‘better off’ than it is presently, additional billions of dollars would need to be spent.”

Impact on Antioch

For Antioch, which has pre-1914 rights to water and can take as much from the river as it needs, and has the lowest intake in the entire Delta, the result will be greater saltwater intrusion, as there will be less pressure from the fresh water flowing through the Delta. In response, the City of Antioch has approved the construction of a $60 million desalination plant. (See related article)

Latest Updates & Reports

This week, the DWR issued an update and scoping report on environmental planning for the single tunnel project.

DWR Adopts Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approves Soil Collection Activities

Today, Thursday, July 9, 2020, consistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Department of Water Resources (DWR) adopted the Final Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for soil investigations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). As part of the CEQA process, DWR also formally approved the action and adopted a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan (MMRP). Soil investigations will include data collection, soil samples and surveys in support of DWR’s efforts to better understand the region’s geology to support the future evaluation of potential activities, including the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. As identified in the Final IS/MND, any potential significant impact will be avoided or otherwise mitigated with implementation of mitigation adopted as part of the project approval process. To access a copy of the Notice of Determination and Final IS/MND, which includes responses to comments and the adopted MMRP, visit the Delta Conveyance Environmental Planning page on DWR’s website.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Under the National Environmental Policy Act

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has informed DWR that it will conduct federal environmental review of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. USACE, which has regulatory authority over certain actions within specifically defined waters in the United States, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Later this summer, USACE will issue a Notice of Intent officially announcing the start of preparation of the EIS. USACE’s letter to DWR can be found here.

The tunnel shaft will be drilled 150 feet below ground. From DCA SEC 2019-12-11-Delta Conveyance System Overview

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has published a Scoping Summary Report for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. This scoping report is a summary of the public scoping period that concluded in April. It includes all public comments received. The information collected during scoping will help inform the ongoing environmental analysis.
The scoping report includes: project overview, the purpose of scoping, a description of scoping activities, meetings, and notifications; a summary of public comments received and copies of all public comments received, including public scoping meeting transcripts.

The purpose of scoping is for DWR to gather feedback from the public and agencies on what to consider when preparing the proposed Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Impact Report. Specifically, DWR was seeking input on the range of project alternatives and potential environmental impacts to study further.

DWR will continue environmental review and analysis of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project, which is intended to maintain reliability of the state’s water system in the decades to come. For more information about the status of the environmental planning work, click here.

Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority (DCA) Board of Directors will be held next Thursday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I Street in Sacramento (map). For details on watching and participating in the meeting online, click here.

Ways to Stay Informed

To stay informed of plans and progress on the Delta Conveyance Project visit https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance; Twitter @CA_DWR; email DeltaConveyance@water.ca.gov; or call the Project Hotline at 866.924.9955.

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Publisher @ July 10, 2020