Contra Costa to enter Orange Tier April 7, Supervisors extend protections for commercial tenants until June 30, accept rental housing grant

Will allow indoor worship services, indoor dining and movie theaters at 50% capacity, gyms at 25%

Sheriff: Jail Population Down 27% Due to COVID-19

By Daniel Borsuk

During their meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors were given good news from the county’s health officer about COVID-19 restrictions, accepted a federal grant to assist residential tenants and extended protections for commercial tenants through June 30.

County to Enter Orange Tier on April 7

Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told supervisors that by April 7 the county should move from the Red Tier to the less restrictive Orange Tier as the county’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate begins to decline.  Dr. Farnitano said the county’s current hospitalization rate 5.8 percent per 100 persons is too high and must get to a 4.2 percent hospitalization rate.

When the county goes from Red to Orange Tiers, indoor worship services, indoor dining and movie theaters can increase from 25 to 50 percent capacity, and gyms can increase from 10 to 25 percent capacity with modifications.

Dr. Farnitano said that cutting the distance for student desks in classrooms from six feet to three feet “will provide additional flexibility for school districts to bring back students safely.”

Accept Federal Rental Housing Grant  

Supervisors unanimously approved a $514,445 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program grant that will assist households with up to 80 percent Area Medium Income with a priority for those up to 50 percent AMI with a funding focused to ensure rental arrears are addressed to stabilize households and prevent evictions.

The program will be administered by three non-profit housing organizations – RYSE Center, which convenes the more than 200 member West County COVID Community Care Coalition, the Family Justice Center that covers Concord. Pleasant Hill. Martinez, and the East Contra Costa Community Care Alliance.

Protections for Commercial Tenants Extended Through June 30

Supervisors unanimously approved Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-11 to continue the temporary prohibition on evictions of certain small-business commercial tenants financially impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. This protection now continues through June 30, 2021.  Protections for residential tenants were unchanged by the urgency ordinance and last through June 30, 2021.

“As we make progress together toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses in our community are still struggling and need help,” said Board Chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood. “Today’s board action will extend that helping hand for small businesses even as we continue to help eligible renters and landlords during this time. Let us continue to work together to find resources and ways to move forward.”

The ordinance also bars landlords from charging late fees to small business and non-profit tenants, and extends to August 31, 2021, the grace period to pay back rent.

Sheriff ‘s Office Responds to Public Protection Committee/Racial Protection Committee Questions: Jail Population Down 27% Due to COVID-19

In a consent action, supervisors approved a Public Protection Committee report where the Sheriff’s Office and Health Services responded to questions about the treatment of inmates in jail facilities.   It marks the first time the Sheriff’s Office has responded to questions emanating from the committee with input from the Board of Supervisors’ Racial Justice Oversight Body.

Main Conclusion:  due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, jail population is down 27 percent.

In a Feb. 18 report to the Public Protection Committee, Assistant Sheriff Steve Simpkins reported as of Jan. 15, 2021, “We have released 1,574 arrestees who were eligible for $0 bail. This information was to comply with a request on information about how many inmates were detained because they cannot afford cash bail.”

The Sheriff’s report stated, “In January and February 2020 (pre COVID-19) the Sheriff’s Office received an average of 1,753 arrestees being booked at the Martinez Detention Facility. The monthly average of arrestees booked between March 1 2020 and December 31, 2020 (during pandemic) is 946, a drop of nearly 50%.” the report said.

“The average daily inmate population in February 2020 (pre COVID-19) of all physical facilities combined was 1,093.  The average daily inmate population in December 2020 (during pandemic) of all physical facilities was 795. That is a 27 percent sustained reduction in the average daily inmate population.  This morning’s population was 715 (1/22/2021).”

“Seventy Sheriff’s Office employees from the Custody Services Bureau have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  All have recovered,” the report said, “and are back to work except for the most recent three who ae out for quarantine.”

 

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