Contra Costa supervisors agree to hire pollster for possible half cent sales tax measure, extend ban on evictions to November

Screenshot of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ online meeting on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

County Health Services using Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients; get glimpse of COVID-19 era libraries

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors discussed possibly placing a half-cent sales tax measure to fund health and social services on the November ballot and approved hiring a pollster on a split vote. The tax measure would be in addition to a proposed Bay Area-wide half-cent sales tax measure for transportation expected to be on the November ballot, as well.

Approve Hiring Pollster for Half Cent Sales Tax Study

In response to the Contra Costa Needs Assessment from the county’s Sales Tax Working Group a countywide half-cent sales tax is being proposed “to shore up access to medical and behavioral health services, and bolster county safety-net programs.” BOS 052620 Contra Costa Needs Assessment

At least for now, it is uncertain if the board will move forward with a sales tax increase measure for the November ballot. Supervisors voted 4-1, with Board Chair Candace Andersen casting the lone, dissenting vote, to spend as much as $60,000 to hire a pollster to test whether voters would support one. But since the outbreak of COVID-19, public support for such a tax measure might have waned.

“We need further direction and getting results from a poll will help,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “Before COVID, support for a tax increase was optimistic, but with COVID it might be different.”

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia, a big booster of a sales tax increase, said it would cost $30,000 to $40,000 to poll 600,000 to 800,000 prospective voters. Mitchoff said a more realistic cost is $60,000.

Both Gioia and Mitchoff serve on the Potential Sales Tax Measure Ad Hoc Committee.

“Right now, is not the time to spend county funds for a poll,” said chair Andersen of Danville.

Extend Temporary Ban on Evictions and Residential Rent Increase Moratorium

With the supervisors’ month-old ordinance that imposed a temporary ban on evictions and a residential rent increase moratorium at the end of May, supervisors acted to extend the ordinance through July 15. Supervisors also imposed a one-year grace period and defined a commercial real property eligible for the ordinance “…as an independently owned and operated business that is not dominate in its field of operation, has its principal office in California, has 100 or fewer employees, and has average annual gross receipts of $15 million or less over the previous three years.”

Figuring the economy will not recover quickly to restore jobs, some speakers asked supervisors to extend the rent increase moratorium one year.

“Keep pace with Alameda County,” said Dick Offerman of Pleasant Hill. “See that no one is evicted in our county. Extend the moratorium one year.”

Mitchoff took time to warn landlords who are violating the county ordinance. “Landlords know about this ordinance. There are some bad actors who take advantage of people who speak English as a second language, this must stop,” she said.

County Health Uses Remdesivir for COVID-19 Patients

Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Christopher Farnitano informed supervisors that Contra Costa County Public Health has begun administering the anti-viral drug Remdesivir to COVID-19 patients. A total of 105 dosages were given last week, Dr. Farnitano said.

“The company that is making it (the drug) is giving this to the United States.” Dr. Farnitano said that the drug is “This drug is somewhat beneficial.”

Dr. Farnitano said there were as of Tuesday 13 COVID-19 patients in Contra Costa Medical Center, compared to 19 patients two weeks ago. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, 37 persons have died from COVID-19 in the county, four deaths occurred in the past week with one of the deaths in the person’s early 30’s, which is uncommon.

So far, the county is COVID-19 testing daily 95 people per 100,000 residents when the daily goal should be 200 people per 100,000 residents.

This drew Supervisor Mitchoff to question the testing.

“We’re about halfway there,” she said. “I did not want to test, but now I want to test in order to get our numbers up.”

Board Vice Chair Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood asked why the COVID-19 test takers at county sites have to wait for results as long as 10 days when persons at three state sites get results within five days.

Contra Costa County Health Department Director Anna Roth said the average turnaround for COVID-19 results is three to five days, but it could be up to 10 days.

Get Glimpse of COVID-19 Era Libraries

took a glimpse of what the COVID-19 era might look like on Tuesday visualizing the 26 public libraries could offer some type of front door service for patrons to pick up checked out books in bags and when libraries do open doors possibly on June 15 seating capacity will be reduced 20 percent at each location right when outdoor temperatures are peaking above 100 degrees and libraries often serve as cooling centers for the public.

Supervisors unanimously approved the Contra Costa County Library Pandemic Preparedness Plan presented by County Librarian Melinda Cervantes that promotes hygiene, social distancing, and reduced seating. BOS 052620 CCCL Pandemic Preparedness Plan Draft Final

“We plan to begin service as soon as possible,” Cervantes told supervisors during the teleconferenced board meeting.

During the presentation, supervisors learned 36 library accounting positions might be eliminated because of COVID-19 related revenue losses. The potential loss of the library jobs will undermine library book purchasing.

“We need to get through the state budget,” responded county administrator David Twa, who said the 36 library accounting jobs are “potential job layoffs” and are subject to the meet and confer process. The state budget will be unveiled in mid-June.

Approve Purchase of DA’s Office Mobile Forensic Vehicle

In other action, the supervisors approved the District Attorney’s Office request to execute an agreement with the City of San Jose for the expenditure of up to $200,000 to procure a mobile forensic vehicle for the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The vehicle is expected to cost $48,285.

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the attachments to this post:

BOS 052620 CCCL Pandemic Preparedness Plan Draft Final
BOS 052620 CCCL Pandemic Preparedness Plan Draft Final

BOS 052620 Contra Costa Needs Assessment

CCCBOS screenshot 052620

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