Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

Supervisors condemn xenophobia, hate crimes against Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

By Daniel Borsuk

A spike in assaults and crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander citizens has triggered the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to publicly condemn the rising number of attacks. CCCBOS Resolution Condemning Xenophobia and Hate Crimes Against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Communities

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 there have been about 3,700 attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On March 19, President Biden proposed $300 million to improve public safety for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

“Too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake.” President Biden said on March 19.  “They have been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.”

Supervisors approved the resolution at the request of District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff who brought the issue to the attention of Chair Diane Burgis.  Mitchoff’s chief of staff, Anne O, recommended that the board consider a resolution condemning attacks on the Asian and Pacific Islander citizens because her parents reside in Oakland’s Chinatown, a main area where assaults on Asian Americans have occurred especially to the elderly.

Supervisors did not hear any speakers either in favor or against the proclamation.

“The reality is racism and hate happen every day to Asians, Latinos and Blacks,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. “We need to put it all together and to stand up against those that promote hatred against Asians. We need to do more than calling it out.”

“Racism is very widespread,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. “We know that it exists. This situation really highlights the issue we have in the United States.”

Supervisor Mitchoff Wants County to Super-Charge County’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Fleet

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors wants to jump start its sluggish Electric Vehicle fleet acquisition efforts, especially when Mitchoff inquired at Tuesday’s meeting if the county is actively applying for state and federal grants to assist the county in the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs).

The answer, was yes, from County Administrator Monica Nino, but Mitchoff, who represents the county on the San Francisco Bay Air Quality District Board which awards grants to counties to buy EV vehicles. Contra Costa faces stiff competition from counties like Santa Clara to be awarded the air board grants to acquire EVs.

Out of a fleet of 1,569 vehicles, equipment and trailers, 951 are vehicles in Contra Costa County’s Internal Service Fund, County Director of Public Services Brian Balbas wrote in a March 8 report to the supervisors’ Internal Service Committee.

Currently, 2.2 percent of the county’s fleet of vehicles are electric powered, 2.4 percent are Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered, 16.2 perc are Hybrid, 8.8 percent are Renewable Diesel powered, and 70.4 percent are Unleaded gasoline vehicles.

“Fleet Services continues to promote building a ‘Green Fleet’ by purchasing 8 electric and 17 hybrid vehicles as replacement vehicles in 2019-2020,” Balbas reported.  In 2019-2020, the county spent $16,311,795.

Mitchoff admitted it is difficult for the county to get grant money for Contra Costa County to purchase EVs when Santa Clara County tends to be awarded most of the air district’s grants for EVs.

“This is where we ought to be moving,” she said in reference to increasing the county’s low EV fleet.  “The President and the Green Economy direct us how we should address the budgetary process.”

In a related item, supervisors approved a letter of support for the GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit corporation, to have PG&E serve as implementer for the Empower EV Program that intends to reduce barriers to electric vehicle acquisition in low and moderate-income communities. The program was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2019.

The $4 million program will provide incentives for up to 2,000 low- and- moderate income households to cover the costs of a residential EV charger, increase awareness of the benefits of EV adoption through targeted education and outreach, and provide information on other incentives and programs available to customers. PG&E has named “the Bay Point to Discovery Bay corridor area,” as a region of focus for Empower EV.

GRID Alternatives, a Bay Area non-profit that installs solar energy in low-income communities while providing job training and helps low-income persons access clean vehicles, is applying to be the implementer for Empower EV.

16-Year-Olds to Get COVID-19 Vaccines

With the Contra Costa Health Services and State of California having inked a Memorandum of Understanding on the allocation of COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer), Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth reported that the county is ramping up accessibility of the vaccine to Contra Costa County residents 50 years and older and will soon open the vaccination program to anyone 16 years old and older.

Roth expected eligibility will open in the next seven days. She asked the public to be patient when attempting to make an appointment.  Soon the county will open the Richmond Center and Bay Point Clinic to accommodate citizens registering to be vaccinated.

“Forty-four percent of resident have at least one dose of the vaccine,” Roth said. “We are removing barriers and making it easier to get the vaccine.”  She expected by April 15 the county will be in full compliance with the state.

Chief Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas reported that 19 additional ambassadors have been added to help register persons in communities like Bay Point, San Pablo and Richmond, communities with high numbers of black and Latino residents.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzviell said with Easter almost here, he advised that persons continue to wear masks and social distance as much as possible. “Outdoors is better than being indoors,” he said.  “Outdoors is safer for grandparents. It’s always safer to wear a mask.”

Approve Density Bonus for Walnut Creek Apartment Project

Supervisors approved as a consent item a density bonus inclusionary housing development agreement for the proposed 284-unit Del Hombre Apartments planned for Del Hombre Lane between Roble Road and Honey Trail in Walnut Creek.  Under the agreement, the developer is required to set aside five percent of the total number of rental units to moderate income households for a minimum of 55 years.

The development will include 21 studio units, 174 one-bedroom units and 89 two-bed-room units all located in one building. In addition, the development will include parking, landscaping, a community building, laundry, a pool, long-term bicycle storage, and trash enclosures.

Recognize Employees Skeritt, Emigh, Waters for Years of Service

Supervisors  recognized Kevin L. Emigh for 33 years of public service with the Road Engineering Division of the Public Works Department, Election’s Divisions Warehouse Unit employee Chuck Waters for 25 years of public service, and Victoria Skerritt for her 14 years of service with the Public Works Department.

Skerrit, who started her career with the Public Works Department as an Administrative Services Assistant II in Special District was promoted to Administrative Services II in Special Districts in 2007 and to Administrative Services Assistant III in 2014. Known for training new staff, Skeritt, who helped establish the Special Districts Community Center Policy, the Alamo Summer Concert Series and the implementation of the Tree Asset Management Program for all Special Districts was part of the 2017 Special Districts team that received the J. Michael Walford Team of the Year Award for delivering eight projects to seven communities from initial planning to construction in a single construction season.

Emigh is retiring from the Public Works Department after a 33-year career. As a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in California since 1993, some of his major projects that he played a part in the design and construction during his career include the Bethel Island Bridge, Iron Horse Overcrossing Project, Orwood Road Bridge, Alhambra Valley Road Washout Repair, Morgan Territory Road Slide Repair, Three Creeks Restoration and many others. Emigh received an Award of Excellence in June 1998 for his work designing and coordinating with the community on the Hilltop Drive Pedestrian Path-Phase 2 Project. He received an Award of Excellence in January 2000 for his contributions on the Editorial Board of Public Quirks Departmental Newsletter. He received an Award of Excellence in 2004 for his planning work and communicating with the community on the Rossmoor Detention Basin Project.

Waters, known as the Elections Division “MacGyver,” who would save the day by fixing anything with a paperclip, rubber band, straw or hammer, administered 73 elections during his career, including 11 primary elections and 12 general elections, seeing five different governors and five different presidents elected during this tenure. He is a certified technician, who maintained and repaired the county’s voting equipment, and provided regular safety lectures, while wearing his neon orange vest. He ensured that every Vote-by-Mail ballot was safely transported from Post Offices and Ballot Drop Boxes across Contra Costa County. He assures the Elections Division he will return to volunteer as an essential worker for future elections., the county proclamation stated.

Sheriff’s Deputy Acquires Service Dog Anavi for $1

Supervisors approved the request by Sheriff Deputy Timothy Allen to pay the county $1 for retired Sheriff’s Service Dog “Anavi.”  Since Dec. 18, 2007, the board of supervisors had approved a resolution (No. 2207/172), which authorized the transfer of ownership of retired police canine (K9) service dogs to their respective handlers for $1.

 

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Supervisors reverse Planning Commission decision on East Contra Costa cannabis micro plant farm

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Diablo Valley Farms indoor cannabis cultivation site plan.

Bay Point Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project moves forward

Honor Deer Valley High student, other winners of annual Poetry Out Loud competition

Closeup view of greenhouses.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to permit longtime Brentwood grower Bob Nunn and land planner Lisa Borba, who also serves as a Contra Costa Water District commissioner, to proceed and develop two 10,000 square foot indoor cannabis cultivation greenhouses at 4425 Sellers Avenue over the objections of residents. DVF Business Proposal

According to the conditions of approval for the project, the use “permit is for the commercial cultivation of cannabis micro plants only” and “no mature cannabis plants are permitted on the site at any time.” DVF Findings & Modified COAs 03152021

The supervisors’ action reverses a January 27th county planning commission decision that had negated an earlier approval of the proposed cannabis development in Eastern Contra Costa County that had proposed only one 10,000 square foot greenhouse.

During the hearing, supervisors listened to six unidentified speakers oppose the proposed Diablo Valley Farms project on grounds it is nearby a youth center and it will breed crime, noise and odor problems into the environment.

In a Feb. 8th letter from attorney Shawn J. Zovod, the developers Robert Nunn and Borba, and addressed to Contra Costa County Planner Joseph Lawlor, Zovod wrote: DVF SZovod Appeal Letter 02082021 SZovod 030521 Letter to JLawlor Project Planner

“The owner of DVF, Robert Nunn, and the applicant, Lisa Borba (collectively “Applicant”) appeals the CPC decision on the following grounds:

  1. The CPC decision to deny the Permit was based on an erroneous finding that Sunset Park is a “youth center.” This finding is not supported by the evidence and provides grounds for appeal under Code Section 26-2.2404c (3) Sunset Park is a park and is not a youth center within the meaning of the Cannabis Regulation and Section 11353.1 of the California Health and Safety Code…The CPC’s finding that Sunset Park is a “youth center” and thereby a Protected Use is not satisfied by evidence and is a gross misinterpretation of the Cannabis Regulation.
  2. “…. Denial of the permit based on an inaccurate and inconsistently applied reading of the requirements of the Cannabis Regulation is denial of equal protection. The CBO cannot turn its back on the laws that it adopted after years of careful consideration. Appellant has invested significant time and tens of thousands of dollars in reliance on the county’s application of its standards on a fair and equitable basis.

Appellant requests the Board of Supervisors uphold this appeal of the CPS, reinstate the Permit as approved by the Zoning Administrator, and decline to add any additional conditions requested by the City of Brentwood to the Permit.”

While supervisors heard from six unidentified Brentwood residents about concerns that the proposed Diablo Valley Farms project will produce crime, odor and noise, Brentwood Police Chief Tom Hansen said the proposed development will bring more “serious crime” to the city and his “officers will be in grave danger.” The police chief recommended that supervisors keep the county planning commission’s January decision intact.

Board Chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood turned the table when she recommended that supervisors reverse the county planning commission’s January action and to approve the Nunn/Borba project.

“They have made it clear there will be no plants of value,” said Burgis. “There will be security. There will be no cash on site. The permit will be valid for five years.”

Supervisors approved the permit on a 5-0 vote.

Approve Engineering Contract for Bay Point Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project

Supervisors approved a $590,000 contract with MNS Engineers, Inc. to provide consulting services with the county Public Works Department for construction management services for the Bailey Road/State Route 4 Interchange Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project for the period March 23, 2021 to June 30, 2022 in the Bay Point area.

The project consists of constructing a retaining wall, widening the State Route 4 westbound diagonal off-ramp, installation and modification of traffic signals, removal of the SR4 westbound loop off-ramp, storm drain modifications, and installation of sidewalk along Bailey Road.

Funding for the project is from the Active Transportation Program (ATP), Bay Point Area of Benefit, Navy Mitigation Funds, Contra Costa County Measure J transportation half-cent sales tax, and the state gas tax.

Recognize 2021 Poetry Out Loud Winners

Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Pinole Valley High School Senior Jermaine Gitana who won first place honors in the Contra Costa County Poetry Out Loud 2021 Competition. Gitana topped second place winner Esmeralda Noyola, a junior at Antioch’s Deer Valley High School, and third place winner Tessa Brubaker, a junior at San Ramon High School in Danville. (See related article)

Initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts and run by the California Arts Council in the state and locally by the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, the program, now in its 14th year, engages high school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance.

Almost 1,000 viewers watched the students’ recitations that were viewed at the Virtual Screening and Awards Ceremony Facebook Live event.

Recognize Melody Hung-Fan and Eric Moe for Years of County Service

Supervisors passed two resolutions recognizing the years of service for Melody Hung-Fan, director of the Contra Costa County Public Health Laboratory, and Eric H. Moe, a 35-year Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office expert in automation and streamlining workflow of default-tax procedures.

Ms. Hung started her career at CCCPH in 1988 as a public health microbiologist and rose through the ranks to become director of the Public Health Laboratory in January 2013 where she has spent the last eight years planning, evaluating, organizing, and directing all activities and staff of the CCCPH.

She became a licensed Public Health Microbiologist (PHM) through the California Department of Public Health in July of 1988 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Services and a Master of Public Health, both from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ms. Hung has been recognized for her background in research through the publication of various abstracts and journal articles, the most recent including articles published by the American Society for Microbiology, entitled: “A Population-Based Surveillance Study of Shared Genotypes of Escherichia coli Isolates from Retail Meat and Suspected Cases of Urinary Tract Infections.”

Her work has been credited in all phases of creating, running, and evaluating testing procedures for a variety of public health issues including HIV, West Nile virus, Zika virus, Influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and other diseases.

Moe is retiring from a long career in the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Officer where he became an expert in defaulted=tax collections, bankruptcy claims, and the annual sale of properties subject to the Tax Collectors Power to Sell. He began his career with the county in 1986 as a Clerk-Beginner. He rose up the ranks and his major accomplishment include automating and streamlining workflow of default-tax procedures to more accurately and expeditiously address and manage the many accounts that transfer to the Redemption or delinquent Secured tax roll annually, and the documenting and re-organizing of standard operating procedures of the tax-default program into a comprehensive electronic manual.  Moe has also been helpful in assisting the California State Controller’s Office with review and feedback to the “Annual Pre-Notice Guide”, the “Review and Taxation Code,” and “The County Tax Collectors’ Reference Manual.”

County Awards Contract to Labor Attorney Kramer

Supervisors awarded a contract with labor attorney Karen Kramer, who is not related to Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer, for workplace investigation and workplace legal advice.  Ms. Kramer specializes in employment law and litigation. She will be of assistance to the County Counsel in the county’s workplace investigations.

Kramer Workplace Investigations will bill the county at an hourly rate of $325 for legal and investigatory services and $400 per hour for testimony.

She is not related to Assessor Kramer, who last November had misconduct charges dropped against him by Superior Court Judge John Cope for accusations of making sexual comments to employees and at least one ethnic slur to a co-worker.

Approve Property Cleanup Cases in Oakley, Martinez and El Sobrante

Supervisors approved three abatement cases. No public speakers were heard on the cases.

The biggest case totaling $38,056.20 was charged to the owners of 2600 Dutch Slough Road in Oakley. The residential property is jointly owned by Darlene Joy Gargulia, Nguyen Ha and Long Hoang Le.

Another residential abatement action costing $4,306.70 occurred at 5321 Alhambra Valley Road in Martinez.  The property is owned by Carol M. Gainey.

Supervisors approved abatement action totaling $4,296.70 at 3870 Valley Lane in El Sobrante. Greg Fremont Livermore is owner of the property.

 

 

 

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

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

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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Hope and Healing Virtual Event honors 734 Contra Costans lost to COVID-19, Monday night

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

To honor the memories of our loved ones, to comfort those left behind, and to collectively begin the healing process, Contra Costa County will tonight hold an online memorial for more than 700 of our family members, friends and neighbors lost in the past year to COVID-19.

The first Contra Costa resident confirmed to have died from the virus passed on March 22, 2020, one year ago today. As of this morning, 734 county residents have died from COVID-19

“While we have reached a somber milestone, we do so at a time of hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “Remembering the people who we have lost reminds us of how far we have come in our struggle against COVID-19. It also helps us to never forget what the virus cost us.”

Millions have died throughout the world during the past year, including more than 500,000 U.S. residents, in a pandemic that has resulted in closed schools, workplaces, places of worship, and curtailed civic life.

The Hope and Healing Virtual Event begins at 8 p.m. and can be viewed live on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) or on the CCHS Facebook page. Anyone can share this link on social media to watch live: https://youtu.be/83jaK-gznSY. The event will be recorded and rebroadcast on CCTV and available at the CCHS YouTube channel.

The broadcast ceremony includes remarks from healthcare workers and community leaders, an invocation, live music and a synchronized lighting of civic centers across the county, including Brentwood, Danville, Martinez, Moraga, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Ramon and Walnut Creek, along with Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, the Contra Costa County Administration Building and the Save Mt. Diablo Beacon.

Thanks to safe, highly effective vaccines and the hard work of Contra Costa residents to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the county is gradually emerging from the state health order restrictions that have affected every aspect of community life.

We can all play a role in ending the pandemic’s grip on Contra Costa for good – and save lives in the process – by continuing to make healthy choices that reduce the spread of the virus and protect us and our families from COVID-19, such as avoiding large gatherings and close contact with people outside the home, using face coverings and getting vaccinated when it is our turn.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus or call 1-833-VAX-COCO (1-833-829-2626) for information and updates about COVID-19 in Contra Costa County, including resources for finding appointments for COVID-19 vaccination and testing.

 

 

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First cases of U.K. COVID variant detected in Contra Costa

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

“More contagious than others and possibly more deadly”

Laboratory results have revealed the first two known cases of the highly infectious U.K. variant (B.1.117) in Contra Costa County. The B.1.117 variant, dubbed the U.K. variant because it is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, is more contagious than others and possibly more deadly.

“This is a reminder that even though COVID numbers are falling, we need to continue using all our tools to prevent another surge: wear masks in public, continue to physically distance, avoid both indoor and large gatherings, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer.

Initial studies suggest the three COVID vaccines in the United State provide strong protection against the U.K. variant and others.

While these are the first confirmed cases of the U.K. variant in Contra Costa, Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, said there are likely many more in the community that have not been detected.

“We can’t say how widespread it is in Contra Costa, but it’s concerning,” Dr. Farnitano said.

The South African variant, another COVID variant of concern, has yet to be detected in Contra Costa, although Dr. Farnitano said we should assume it also circulating in California.

The presence of the U.K. variants were discovered as part of laboratory surveillance work during the pandemic. One local person infected with the U.K. variant began displaying common COVID-19 symptoms such as cough and muscles aches and was able to isolate at home. The other Contra Costa resident reported having multiple symptoms, including runny nose, cough, headache and loss of smell and taste.

For Contra Costa data and COVID-19 health information, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.

 

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Over $75 million in COVID-19 rent relief for Contra Costa County

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Tenants and Landlords – application period opened yesterday

(Martinez, CA) – Starting March 15, 2021, Contra Costa County tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 can apply for assistance from the COVID-19 Rent Relief program. Over $75 million is Contra Costa County’s allocation of federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which allocated $2.6 billion to Californians in need of rental relief.

“This funding for COVID-19 relief cannot come any sooner to help provide the hardest hit individuals and families in Contra Costa with financial assistance with rent and utilities payments and help them gain back financial and housing stability,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis. “My colleagues on the Board and I remain committed to helping residents get back on their feet, especially now that we have safe, effective vaccines that will help end this pandemic.”

The program assists income-qualified renters impacted by COVID-19 who need help to pay for rent or utilities. Eligible household income may not exceed 80% of the local median income. Eligible renters whose landlords do not participate in the program can still receive 25% of unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Eligible renters can also receive future rent assistance equal to 25% of their monthly rent. The program also provides up to 80% rent reimbursement to landlords for unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

“I am appreciative of the partnership with local governments like Contra Costa for their vote of confidence in our rent relief program,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez. “We have been closely working together to ensure we provide rent relief and support to those communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Check eligibility and apply online for COVID-19 Rent Relief and in Spanish Ayuda con la Renta. Tenants and landlords can contact the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Call Center at 1-833-430-2122 for assistance to apply. To learn more and find state resources, visit Housingiskey.com.

For information on Contra Costa County’s Ordinance on Eviction Protection and Rent Freeze, see FAQs on the County website. For additional resources, call 211 or 800-833-2900, text HOPE to 20121, or visit www.contracosta.ca.gov.

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Contra Costa, Bay Area, Santa Cruz County health officers support all three COVID-19 vaccines

Monday, March 15th, 2021

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine vial: photo by Arne Mueseler; Moderna Vaccine vial: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte; Johnson & Johnson Jansen Vaccine vial (right): photo by J&J.

Information on the vaccines not approved by FDA

On Monday, March 15, 2021, Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano in coordination with other health officers in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz County issued the following statement:

“As local health officers, we fully support all three currently available vaccines for COVID-19. All three vaccines are safe and have been shown to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic illness and hospitalization. The clinical trials for all three vaccines demonstrated that they were 100 percent effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19. There is also growing evidence that all three vaccines help prevent asymptomatic illness, too. This means that people who have been vaccinated are not likely to spread of COVID-19 to others who are not vaccinated.

There has been much debate about the advantages of one brand of vaccine over the other, but it’s difficult to compare their efficacy. The different brands of COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied in head-to-head comparisons. The vaccines have each been studied in slightly different groups of people and tested at different phases of the pandemic. The rates of community transmission and presence or absence of COVID-19 variants differed across studies.

What we can say with certainty is that all three vaccines provide levels of protection that are comparable to some of the best vaccines we have for other serious infectious diseases for which we routinely vaccinate people.

With COVID-19 continuing to circulate as we work toward community immunity, our collective medical advice is this: the best vaccine is the one you can get the soonest. The different vaccines have different storage requirements and with supplies of vaccine currently limited, the same brand may not be available at each vaccine site consistently.

If you have questions about vaccine, speak to your medical provider if you have one. You can also learn more about vaccines on the state’s COVID-19 website.

This statement has been approved by health officers representing the city of Berkeley and the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma.”

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

According to the CDC’s website, the side effects of taking the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include redness, swelling and pain at the injection site, as well as fever, fatigue, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and new or worsening joint and muscle pain. According to the company’s Feb. 12th press release, “The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older.

According to a March 15the report on MedicalXpress.com, the “Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 97% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in actual use” and that “a previous real-world study revealed that the vaccine was 94 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 92 percent effective against asymptomatic disease, CBS News reported.”

Moderna Vaccine

According to the CDC’s website, the common side effects of taking the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include pain, redness and swelling in the arm where you got the shot; and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea throughout the rest of your body. According to the company’s Feb. 16th press release, “Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for active immunization to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 18 years of age and older. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is investigational and not approved by FDA.”

Johnson & Johnson’s Jansen Vaccine

According to the CDC’s website, the side effects of the Johnson & Johnson Jansen COVID-19 Vaccine include pain, redness and swelling in the arm where you got the shot; and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea throughout the rest of your body. It “is recommended for people aged 18 years and older.” Just like the other two vaccines, according to the Johnson & Johnson website, “The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized by the FDA through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The FDA EUA Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and full EUA Prescribing Information are available here.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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New state vaccination program concerns Contra Costa health officials, supervisors

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Contra Costa Health Officer said he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier. 

By Daniel Borsuk

The old saying “there’s nothing like good old competition” can apply when Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover on Tuesday questioned county health officials if an announcement a day earlier that the state and health care giant Blue Shield of California will jointly launch a statewide COVID-19 vaccine registration system that will compete against county sponsored vaccine registration systems like Contra Costa’s My Turn.

Glover, who represents the East County communities of Pittsburg and Antioch, with high numbers of underserved black and Latino constituents, asked Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano if the new statewide vaccination system will benefit or hinder the County’s efforts.

“Our scheduling system will still be in place,” Farnitano responded.  Furthermore, the health officer said that the county’s scheduling and testing capabilities will not be jeopardized.

The new central site sign-up system Blue Shield of California will operate on behalf of the state aims to make obtaining vaccination appointments more efficient and straight forward.  In addition, when the state is ready to expand vaccination eligibility to the next population category for doses, every county in the state will have to follow suite at the same time.  This takes the decision-making out of the hands of county health officials and into the hands of State or Blue Shield of California health officials.

Health care workers, long-term care residents aged 65 and older and employees working in agriculture and food, education and child care, and emergency services are currently eligible to receive a vaccine in California.  Beginning March 15, residents between 16 and 64 years old with severe health ailments, including cancer or heart conditions, and those with developmental or high-risk disabilities will also be eligible for vaccination.

Board Chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood said that she has received inquiries from constituents if they can select the vaccine to be given when it is their turn at the clinic.

“They are all great vaccines,” answered Farnitano. “With all the vaccines in short supply, we get what is available.”

In the meantime, Farniton said he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier.

Farnitano also said Contra Costa County’s exposure to any COVID-19 variants is “not of concern.”  He said there have been no reports of the United Kingdom or South Africa variants in the County.

“Even though we are seeing a lot of good news, we are not out of the woods yet.  Up until now we’re winning the race, but we cannot let down our guard too fast.  Continue to wear masks, wash your hands and social distance,” he said.

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said 86 percent of Contra Costa residents age 75 and over have at least had their first dose

The County Health Director said through the County Health Department, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and School Districts, 25,000 doses of vaccine are dedicated to educators as schools ramp up to reopen.

“More teachers are getting vaccinated,” Farnitano stated.

Supervisors Flash Green Light for Danville Roundabout

Supervisors gave county Public Works officials the green light to start the eminent domain process to change an accident-prone intersection in Danville into a traffic roundabout designed to reduce car speeds and improve pedestrian crossings at Danville Boulevard and Orchard Court.

The County project will include curb extensions, curb ramps and entry medians at the roundabout to cut down on vehicle speeds and improve pedestrian crossings.  Sidewalks will be reconstructed along with curb extensions and curb ramps in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The intersection has one of the highest collision rates in the state.  It is 2.5 times higher than the state average.  Over the last 10 years there were at least 13 bicycle and three pedestrian collisions.

Ann E. Elliott Appointed Director of Human Resources

From a field of 62 applicants and seven semi-finalists, Supervisors unanimously selected acting Director of Human Resources Ann E. Elliot to the full-time position at an annual salary of $240,000 and a $57,000 pension per year.  The appointment became effective March 1.

Elliot has served as Interim Director of Human Resources since Sept. 30, 2020 when former Director of Human Resources Dianne Dinsmore retired.

Elliot started her career at the Contra Costa County Human Resources Department in 2015 and has developed a reputation of having an understanding of the responsibilities of Human Resources Management and the value Human resources can contribute to an employer.

Through the recruitment firm Peckham & McKenney, 62 applications were received and seven semi-finalists were forwarded to the County Interview Panel on Dec. 1, 2020 and interviewed on Dec. 9, 2020.  The County Interview Panel consisted of Joe Angelo, Alameda County Human Resources Director; Timothy Ewell, Contra Costa County Chief Assistant County Administrator; Lisa Driscoll, Contra Costa County Finance Director; and Kathy Ito, President of KMI Human Resources Consulting, Inc.

After the interviews, County Administrator Monica Nino recommended Elliot’s appointment.

Elliott is a graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University with as Master of Science, Management degree and from Cedarville University with a Bachelor of Arts, Behavioral Science and Psychology.

Approve $17.6 Million in 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges

Facing no citizen comments, Supervisors unanimously approved the 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges with net costs totaling $17,599,506.  That amounts to about .56 percent of all 2019-2020 property taxes levied countywide.

“The County absorbs the schools’ share, which amounts to $8,436,409,” according to the county staff report on the item. “School districts, community college districts and the County Office of Education are exempt from the provision, authorizing county recovery of their proportionate share of property tax administrative costs.”

 

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