Archive for the ‘Airports’ Category

Contra Costa health officials to address Gioia’s complaints of COVID-19 vaccine inequity in high minority population areas of West, East County

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Source: Contra Costa Health Services

Less than 5% immunization compared to 11-13.8% in Alamo, Lafayette and Walnut Creek where the population is older.

The county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older, said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano – “I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point.”

Annual Board Retreat held virtually

Photo: CC Health Services.

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors annual retreat Tuesday, Jan. 26, the county’s top health official made a major admission, saying her department will investigate questions into claims of unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccination injections in areas with high populations of Black and Latino residents.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth was put in the hot seat by District 1 Supervisor John Gioia who, like last week, raised similar questions as to why the COVID-19 vaccine is being unequally distributed in the district he represents. His district includes the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito and other communities with high percentages of minorities who are more prone to be stricken with coronavirus, than in other communities that tend to be wealthier and have higher percentages of white residents.

Gioia also cited other high percentage minority communities like Antioch, Bay Point, and Pittsburg in supervisorial District 5 for exposing residents to the COVID-19.  District 5 is represented by Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg who did not comment on the issue.

Gioia said the vaccination rate in Antioch is five percent, in Bay Point it is 4.3 percent, in Richmond it’s 4.5 percent, while in Alamo the vaccination rate is 11 percent, 12 percent in Lafayette, and 13.8 percent in Walnut Creek.

“You make a very important point.  The early data is showing an inequity,” Health Director Roth said.  “We hear your request for a more specific plan.”

Last week, when Gioia raised the same inequity issue, Roth did not acknowledge the Supervisor’s issue as significant enough for possible further study.

Discussion about the vaccine inequity distribution issue arose at the same time Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by about 16 percent for the next three weeks.  White House officials said the order would buy enough additional doses to vaccinate most of the U.S. population with a with a two-dose regimen by the end of summer.  Contra Costa County Health officials were unavailable to comment about that development. Like all counties in California, vaccine distribution is overseen by the state.

However, during the Health Services COVID-19 Response Update to the board, Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, pointed out that the county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older. Of 93,000 doses administered, 61,000 have been given to citizens older than 75 years, he explained.

“I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point,” Farnitano also stated at the end of the presentation.

Retreat Highlights

During their remotely held retreat, the supervisors were presented glimpses of the 2021 budget, economic forecasts, future capital improvement projects, redistricting, economic development, and developments planned at the two County-owned airports in Byron and at Buchanan Field in Concord.

Among some of the highlights of the presentations were:

  • Supervisors expressed their preference for the potential construction of a 20,000 square foot, two-story office building with 80 underground parking spaces to be built at 651 Pine St., the former site of the 12-story McBrien Administration Building that will be demolished now that that county’s new four story $95 million administration David Twa Administration Building has been completed and is open for limited occupancy due to COVID-19.

“The economy will be roaring back,” forecast economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg. He made the prediction despite the fact that California faces a $54 billion budget deficit, “public transit like BART is going to have a tough time getting out of this thing, but electrically powered cars I see coming down the pike.”

  • Former County Administrator David Twa will oversee work on the county’s redistricting process, a process that occurs every 10 years to adjust supervisorial district boundaries. The complex process involves conducting public hearings and meeting state and federal guidelines that are dependent on when the federal government releases 2020 census data.  There is concern that due to COVID-19, the availability of census data might be delayed.
  • The two county airports at Byron and Buchanan have generated a 9% increase in revenue for the county since 2017. The Byron airport recently landed, said Airports Director Keith Freitas, a vertical take landing aviation company.  There are 10 ongoing development projects at the airports including fire station No. 9 and a new administration building at the Buchanan Airport in Concord.
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Supervisors cut hangar, tie-down rates at Buchanan, Byron Airports to compete

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Photos courtesy of Contra Costa County.

Approve spending $41,000 for sideshow deterrence project

By Daniel Borsuk

Airplane tenants at the county’s two airports – Buchanan Field Airport and Byron Airport – will see hangar and tie-down rental rates decline as a result of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors concurring with an airports staff analysis that the rates charged at the two airports are non-competitive. The lower rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Supervisors voted 5-0 in approving the rate reductions at a meeting on Tuesday in Martinez.

Overall, the lower rates will mean the county will receive $65,514 less annual revenue for the Airport Enterprise Fund, the fund that financially operates the two airports.  Unlike other county departments or operations, the two airports are run as financially self-sustaining public use facilities in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration.

A market survey County Director of Airports Keith Freitas and his staff conducted on the county airports’ regional competitors including Livermore, Hayward, Napa, Sonoma, Stockton, and Nut Tree showed that rates at the two Contra Costa County airports were “on the high end of the rate range.”

“To best position Buchanan Field and Byron Airports to be regionally competitive, the new hangar and tie-down rates have been lowered and they will adjust every three years instead of annually,” Freitas wrote in his report to the supervisors.  This will permit the Airports Division to “react and behave more like a business in order to successfully compete for marketplace in the region.”

There is currently a six-month wait for a hangar at the two airports, the airports director said and he would like to see that wait period decline even more over time.

The county’s tie-down rates are less than 40 percent occupied, the airports director’s report stated.

Pleasant Hill resident Tom Weber, who is not a pilot, supported the lower airport rates because “We need to be competitive. Our rates have been too high.”

Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who serves on the Airports Commission, foresees how the lower hangar and tie-down rates at the airports could potentially spark “so many opportunities” in the county.  She cited how the airports could be catalysts for “really good jobs for the Northern Waterfront,” an area currently undergoing an extensive county planning study for future development.

$41,000 Sideshow Deterrence Project OK’d

Without out any comment, supervisors approved a $41,000 anti-sideshow project at the intersection of Alhambra Valley Road and Bear Creek Road.  The supervisors approved the item on their consent agenda.

At the request of District 1 Supervisor John Gioia, who has received complaints from citizens about illegal sideshow activities (spinning circles and other illegal vehicular stunts) at the intersection, the county Public Works Department plans to take preventive action.

“The project consists of installing a series of 6-inch and/or 8-inch raised ceramic domes at the four approaches to the intersection,” Brian M. Balbas, Public Work Director/Chief Engineer wrote in this report to the board.

“The ceramic domes will be strategically placed along the centerline striping and in the shoulder areas.  The intent of the raised features is to provide a visual, auditory, and sensory deterrence, while minimizing the impact to most road users who follow the vehicle code.  The project will test if raised ceramic domes have intended deterrent effect on sideshow activities.”

But when the Contra Costa Herald contacted Balbas, the county public works chief wasn’t too optimistic that the ceramic domes will spoil the enthusiasm of the sideshow participants.  “They’ll find a way to either scrape them off or demolish the ceramic domes in order continue their sideshows,” he said.

Supervisors also heard Arthur Road resident Jonathan Katayanagi describe how sideshows and speeding cars have made his neighborhood dangerous for children and anyone living in the area.  Recently there was an auto accident on Arthur Road, sparking increased concerns about sideshows and dangerous auto stunts.  Katayanagi told the Herald perhaps his neighborhood should also get the ceramic dome street treatment like what Public Works will soon install at Alhambra Valley Road and Bear Creek Road.

Proclaim October Diaper Need Awareness Month

Supervisors unanimously proclaimed October as Diaper Need Awareness Month in Contra Costa County as part of a countywide effort to raise public awareness and action to donate diapers to diaper banks, diaper drives, and organizations that distribute diapers to families in need.

Supervisors acknowledged the works of Sweet Beginnings Family Resource Center for its work to be recognized as the 20th Diaper Bank in California and the work of SupplyBank.Org’s Diaper Kit Assistance that distributes 18,000 TalkReadSign branded diapers and 36,000 baby wipes per month through the Concord Women and Children (WIC) Program.

Citing how the high cost of diapers imposes a financial strain, especially on low income families, can account for 14 percent of a monthly budget.  Diapers can be purchased with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, but only 27 percent of families with children in poverty receive TANF benefits.

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County airport committee seeks public input on possible viewing plaza at Byron Airport

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

A Public Viewing Plaza similar to this one at Buchanan Field in Concord is being proposed for the Byron Airport. Photo credit Nate G., posted Sept. 27, 2014.

Photo courtesy of Contra Costa County.

The Contra Costa County Aviation Advisory Committee is asking for the public’s assistance in answering a one question survey to gauge interest in and support for a “public viewing plaza” at the Byron Airport, similar to the one at Buchanan Field.

The commission will discuss the matter at their next meeting on Thursday, August 9, 2018, which will be held at 10:00 a.m., 550 Sally Ride Drive in Concord, and will be deciding if there is demand for the viewing plaza, the location for it at the Byron Airport and the cost.

Are you interested in and would you support a public viewing plaza at the Byron Airport?

Leave your response in the comments section, below or on the Herald Facebook page. Thank you for your participation.

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