Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

Contra Costa County appears to be overpaying for Pittsburg motel for homeless by more than $5 million, releases appraisal

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Assessor’s Parcel information for Motel 6. From ParcelQuest Lite website.

“In the interests of transparency” – Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt

The difference is primarily due to the below market purchase price” – from the appraisal

“This is a classic example of a gift of public funds” – County Assessor Gus Kramer

By Allen Payton

After learning that the county’s outside appraisal for the Motel 6 in Pittsburg was $16.7 million, and the purchase price offered by the Board of Supervisors of $17.4 million, was only 4.2% higher, it was learned today that the same motel sold for just $12 million in February 2019. In addition, it was assessed on January 1st, this year slightly higher at $12,226,480. After requesting a copy of the appraisal since last week, the County Counsel’s office released it, today “in the interests of transparency.” The appraisal states last year’s “purchase price was modified to $13,200,000.” (See related article)

Asked for copies of what was believed to be both internal and outside contract appraisals from the Public Works Department Real Estate Division, Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt responded, “I’m only aware of one appraisal. It was contracted out. I can give you what the topline is, but the appraisal is not available until after escrow closes.”

“The appraised value is $16.7 million at $96,000 per room,” he stated. “It’s 4.2% above the appraised value.”

Asked if the appraisal was done internally or contracted out, Angstadt said, “We always contract out appraisals. We have staff with real estate licenses. But I don’t believe we have any licensed appraisers on staff.”

“The state was very public about how much they were willing to pay, at $100,000 per room,” he continued. “So, it didn’t leave us with much room to negotiate.”

“We have not signed the purchase and sale agreement, yet. That will happen once we finish the due diligence. We are working our way through all of it. It’s scheduled to close escrow on November 10th,” Angstadt added.

However, Angstadt released the appraisal to the Herald, today after obtaining permission from the County Counsel’s office. It was done by West Hollywood-based HVS Consulting & Valuation, a Division of TS Worldwide, LLC which, according to their website, provides highly credible hotel valuations and appraisals.”  (See page 13) HVS Appraisal – FINAL – Motel 6 – Pittsburg CA – 09

The sale price for the 41-year-old motel was $68,000 per room, last year.

In a search of the Assessor’s Parcel number for the property, which is 088-152-039 on the ParcelQuest Lite website, a link to which can be found on the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s webpage and which any member of the public, county staff, Board of Supervisors and any appraiser can do, it provides the details of last year’s sale and this year’s valuation.

The closest comparable sale was the Ramada Inn, now Comfort Inn, in Antioch which sold in March 2017 for $50,000 per room. That’s a much higher end hotel than the Motel 6. Another comparable property, the Marina Bay Inn & Suites on Cutting Blvd. in Richmond near Pt. Richmond sold in August 2017 for $80,000 per room, and that’s in an area considered nicer than where the Motel 6 is located in Pittsburg.

“The real comparable sale is the property itself,” said County Assessor Gus Kramer, who has been an outspoken critic of the county’s purchase of the motel. (See related article)

“Did the appraiser back into the state’s and county’s number?” he asked. “How can the appraiser say the value of the motel increased in the last year by 45%? No property in the county has increased in value that much during that time.”

Asked when the property was assessed this year, Kramer said his staff did that on January 1st.

“This is a classic example of a gift of public funds,” he stated. “Just because the state is giving us this amount of money doesn’t mean we need to spend that much.”

“This is why local government is in trouble,” Kramer continued. “It’s not that they don’t have enough money it’s that they don’t manage what they have, well.”

An email was sent to all members of the Board of Supervisors, County Administrator David Twa and Angstadt asking them why there is such a difference in the value arrived at by the county’s contract appraiser as well as the offer price, and last year’s sale price and this year’s assessed valuation. They were also asked to confirm that the property in the online search was in fact the Motel 6, since it has the same address and the photo of it appears to be the motel. In addition, they were asked why the appraiser didn’t take into account the sale and assessed value for the motel and if they will now seek a second appraisal.

Text messages were also sent to Supervisors Federal Glover, in whose district the motel is located, Diane Burgis and Board Chair Candace Andersen informing them of the difference in appraised value and assessed valuation and to please check their emails.

The Board was holding a special closed session meeting, today beginning at 9 a.m. to discuss both Kramer’s lawsuit against the Board over allegations of violations of the state’s Brown Act open meeting law, as well as potential candidates to replace Twa who is retiring, this year.

Angstadt responded with, “The appraisal does include a discussion and analysis of the past sale of the property and the reasoning, changes and circumstances that led to the appraiser assigning the valuation they did.  As I said in our earlier discussion Government Code Section 6254(H) exempts release of the contents of an appraisal before the acquisition of the property is complete.  Therefore I can’t directly answer your question about how they justified the higher value, but I can assure you they did discuss the issues you raised and their methods of determining the higher value they assigned to the property.

However, California Government Code § 6254 (2017) reads “Except as provided in Sections 6254.7 and 6254.13, this chapter does not require the disclosure of any of the following records:

(h) The contents of real estate appraisals or engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made for or by the state or local agency relative to the acquisition of property, or to prospective public supply and construction contracts, until all of the property has been acquired or all of the contract agreement obtained.”

A further question was asked if the county is prohibited from releasing the appraisal or just not required to and if they can release it to please provide it, as has been requested since last week.

In response Angstadt wrote, “I spoke with County Counsel and they said they we could disclose the appraisal at this time in the interests of transparency.  A number of the issues you raised are discussed starting on page 13.”

Appraisal Explanation for Higher Value Than 2019 Sale Price

On that page, the appraisal provides the reason for part of the higher price. It reads, “The ‘as is’ market value opinion in this appraisal is approximately 27% higher than the February 2019 purchase price. The difference is primarily due to the below market purchase price, as described throughout this report.”

In addition, the appraisal states the actual “purchase price was modified to $13,200,000”.

Please check back later for any responses from the Supervisors and any other updates.

Below is the information from the ParcelQuest Lite property search of the Motel 6 property located at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg.

Russell V. Watts , County Treasurer-Tax Collector

Property Address: 2101 LOVERIDGE RD PITTSBURG CA 94565-5019

Google Map of Motel 6 site. From ParcelQuest Lite.

Full Detail $14.95  The Full Property Detail includes everything displayed here plus completed information for those fields where “See Full Detail” is shown. If a field is empty on this page, no data is available, and the field will also be empty on the Full Property Detail.

Property Address: 2101 LOVERIDGE RD PITTSBURG CA 94565-5019

General Information

Parcel # (APN): 088-152-039-9 
Owner: See Full Detail
Mailing Address: 25920 VIA MARGARITA CARMEL CA 93923-8313
Legal Description: PCL MAP 78 PG 36 POR PCL A
Use Type: COMMERCIAL
Tax Rate Area: 007-004

Assessment

Total Value: $12,226,480 Year Assd: 2020
Land: $2,550,000 Zoning:
Structures: $9,424,800 Use Code: See Full Detail
Other: $251,680 Census Tract: See Full Detail
% Improved: See Full Detail Price/SqFt: See Full Detail
Exempt Amt:
HO Exempt: N

Sale History

Sale 1 Sale 2 Sale 3 Transfer
Document Date: 02/12/2019 See Full Detail See Full Detail
Document Number: 19052 See Full Detail See Full Detail
Document Type:
Transfer Amount: $12,000,000 See Full Detail
Seller (Grantor):

Property Characteristics

Bedrooms: Fireplace: Units: See Full Detail
Baths (Full): A/C: Stories:
Baths (Half): Heating: Quality:
Total Rooms: Pool: Building Class:
Bldg/Liv Area: 43,352 Park Type: Condition:
Lot Acres: 2.905 Spaces: Site Influence:
Lot SqFt: 126,542 Garage SqFt: Timber Preserve:
Year Built: 1979 Ag Preserve:
Effective Year: See Full Detail
**The information provided here is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed.

 

 

 

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Ribbon cutting for Amazon Fulfillment Center at Logistics Center in Oakley Oct. 7

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

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Recently released prisoner arrested for kidnapping, pistol whipping woman at Motel 6 in Pittsburg

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

The gun, multiple high-capacity magazines and ammunition found with the suspect on July 31, 2020. Photo by PPD.

Site of homeless program praised by Governor Newsom during June 30 press conference at the location

By Pittsburg Police Department

Motel 6 in Pittsburg. Photo by Motel 6.

On Thursday, July 30, 2020, Pittsburg officers responded to Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg, for the report of a kidnapping during which the suspect, “pistol whipped” the female victim with a handgun causing a significant injury, threatened to kill her son, etc. The suspect was positively identified by the victim and Motel 6 cameras. The suspect in the Motel 6 incident was also found to have an active felony warrant for a similar pistol whip incident that occurred in the City of Oakland days prior. Furthermore, the suspect had just recently been released from prison and was on active parole for prior violent felonies convictions.

The motel was the site for a press conference by Governor Gavin Newsom about the state’s Project Roomkey and new Project Homekey programs on June 30. (See related articleUPDATE: However, according to Contra Costa Health Services spokesperson Kim McCarl, the program does not include the entire motel, and the victim and suspect involved in the incident, which occurred in the other building, were not part of it.

On Friday, July 31, Pittsburg officers were patrolling the area where the suspect was believed to frequent. Officers located the suspect exiting the same vehicle he was driving during the Motel 6 incident. The suspect fled from the vehicle on foot, a perimeter was established and a short time later he was apprehended without incident. The vehicle was searched, and the above pictured firearm was located inside along with multiple high-capacity magazines and ammunition. The suspect was transported to jail on multiple different charges. -P375

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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New Name. Same Game. Delta Conveyance Project – tunnel moves forward – Part 2: Stakeholders & Opposition

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

County residents opposed to project work to limit impact and secure benefits if it is built

“I feel in a lot of ways this committee is just going through the motions. I’m starting to feel like a pawn in a chess game.” – Antioch resident Jim Cox.

By Allen Payton

What was planned as two tunnels beneath the California Delta to divert fresh water from north of the Delta to areas south, is now a single tunnel plan that is referred to as the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). The effort is being led by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) which was formed by and makes recommendation to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

In the first part of this two-part series, you read about the background and latest efforts to move the project forward. In this part, you will hear from local voices who serve on the Stakeholders Engagement Committee (SEC) and what they are doing to both fight the tunnel, and if it is built to limit its impact and to secure any benefits for our county and the Delta.

Stakeholders Engagement Committee – Local Voices

Because Contra Costa County and the water districts in the county either oppose or are neutral on the Delta tunnel project, no agency from the county is part of the DCA. But there are three people who live and one who works in Contra Costa County and serve on the Stakeholder Engagement Committee. They are Bethel Island resident and retired engineer David Gloski, Discovery Bay resident and real estate appraiser Karen Mann, Antioch resident Jim Cox, a retired fishing boat captain, and Oakland resident Michael Moran, who works for the East Bay Regional Park District as Supervising Naturalist at Big Break Regional Shoreline Visitor Center at the Delta in Oakley.

David Gloski, The Engineer – At Large Member

“I don’t want to understate that I’m against it and I appreciate the people fighting it,” said Gloski, who volunteered to be part of the SEC at the urging of others who also oppose the tunnel. “But I, having a home on the water and having an engineering background – and this DCA SEC group is more engineering focused – we want to make sure they don’t screw anything up.”

“The majority of the people on the stakeholder committee are probably against the tunnel,” he stated. “It includes the lady (Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla) from Restore the Delta. We’ve been effective in preventing them from doing things that don’t make sense and would negatively affect people in Contra Costa.”

“To me, they walk and chew gum at the same time. They’re working on designs and plans without having the permits. They have to do some of it or they don’t know what they’re asking to permit,” Gloski explained. “Similarly, we aren’t doing ourselves any benefit by just opposing it. Because if it does go through, we can get a lot of things done, like new roads, and parks. But you have to participate.”

“I’ve raised my hand to say, ‘if you’re going to build it, let’s get good things out of it, and make sure they don’t screw things up,” he reiterated. “I think the county is mistaken for not being more involved. The DCA made changes because of our inputs. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the inputs are the best from the county’s perspective. For example, an original plan included road and bridge improvements which were eliminated when we were successful in having a maintenance shaft moved further away from Discover Bay. So, you might have won the battle but lost the war.”

“I think we might benefit from more representatives. But right now, the county is just fighting it,” Gloski added.

To give your input to David Gloski, you can join his Facebook page, David Gloski DCA Stakeholder.

Mann expressed her concern for the location and proximity to Discovery Bay of one potential Maintenance Shaft. From DCA 2020-05-27-UpdatedMapBooks.

Karen Mann – South Delta Local Business

Mann, an appraiser in Discovery Bay, is another member of the stakeholders committee who opposes the tunnel, as the issue literally hits close to home for her like Gloski.

“I’m fighting for our Delta,” she said. “As I’m talking to you my grandchildren are loading the boat, because that’s what we do as a family. We spend time on the Delta.”

“I’m an active boater. I skipper my own 37-foot boat. I’m a very able-bodied skipper. My dad had me at the helm since I was 9 or 10 years old in San Pablo Bay,” Mann explained. “So, I’ve described to this group the terror that I had when I encountered a barge in the middle of Old River. That left me about 25’ (to get by it). My boat is 12-feet-wide. I could feel the propellers of the tugboat drawing me toward that barge. My boat weighs 22,000 lbs. Imagine if that was a ski boat with inexperienced skiers or a family with a father and his kids on board.”

“The number of barges every day that they were talking about loading, I told them ‘you better think twice. You will have lives of families and boaters on your hands,’” she continued.

Effort to Postpone Meetings & Work Due to COVID-19 Unsuccessful

“Through this whole pandemic thing, myself and a bunch of others have said ‘let’s hold off on these meetings’ because we can’t meet with our people,” Mann stated. “The chief engineer said, ‘we’re going to move forward, and we hate to leave you behind. But that’s how it goes. Governor Newsom wants this going.’”

“I piped up and said ‘it appears to me Gov. Newsom his been very busy with this pandemic thing and his three-hour-long press conferences each day, and the Delta tunnel is probably not at the forefront of his thinking,” she shared.  “For us to be told, ‘no, that’s out of the question, we’re on a timeline’, this is just not right.”

According to a report by the Sacramento News & Review, the effort to postpone the committee meetings and the work got a Sacramento County Supervisor and the Delta Protection Commission involved.

“The dust-up has caused Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli to challenge one state official about transparency, while the Delta Protection Commission has officially asked California planners to halt their work on the tunnel during the virus outbreak. So far, that hasn’t happened,” reported the SN&R.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis serves on the Delta Protection Commission, which  “is supposed to safeguard the environmental and community health of the estuary as part of California’s landmark 1992 Delta Protection Act.”

But the committee meetings are continuing, just online for now, as most if not all other government meetings are currently throughout the state.

No Project Funding or Route, Yet

“I asked them where are we getting the money from? Apparently, there’s no checkbook. There’s no limit. There’s no talk about expenses. It’s like carte blanch. Money is no object,” Mann stated. “There isn’t an official route, yet. Because they’re trying to decide if there is going to be a central corridor which would be within 600 feet of the Discovery Bay water treatment plan and homes on the golf course.”

“That’s not the best of it,” she continued. “The best of it is they’re using their maps of that central location they would have taken that tunnel underneath the only waste treatment plant in the area.”

“They would also be going through our artesian wells,” Mann added.

“If there were any problems, “they would shut off the water and waste treatment for Discovery Bay. How could we live here? We’re not a third world country,” she said with a laugh.

“I’ve been very passionate about those two items,” Mann stated.

She, Cox and Moran all expressed concerns about trucks on Highway 4 east of Discovery Bay and how the committee’s efforts got that stopped.

“There was also going to be a maintenance shaft near Discovery Bay which would require truck traffic on Highway 4. Heavy duty trucks carrying the muck and dirt. Those bridges are old and couldn’t handle it,” she explained.

“Now they’re talking about using the eastern corridor closer to Stockton. But they told us ‘don’t get too excited. Nothing is decided. We’ll take your recommendations, but we will make our own decisions.’” That didn’t sit well with Mann.

“Is this how government is supposed to work?” she asked. “I will say they did listen on the barge issue. I think health and safety got them.”

Fire Marshal, DB Town Manager Shocked

“We took that information to the fire marshal and Discovery Bay Town Manager and they were shocked,” Mann shared. “Neither one of them knew about any of it. They both wrote impassioned letters. We have three fire stations that serve 128 square miles. The engineers thought we had nine stations.”

“So, who’s going to handle the issues…with a project like this?” she asked. “Someone’s going to get hurt and they’re going to need EMT’s. I guarantee you one of their trucks will have an accident and block traffic for hours, if not kill someone.”

“I’ve been sending the chief engineer photos of truck accidents and concerns that we have for our health and safety,” she continued. They had no idea of traffic count. They’re using traffic counts from five years ago from San Joaquin County and they don’t keep track of traffic on Highway 4 and the bridges in our county. So, their traffic counts are completely inaccurate.

“So, I’m wondering who’s really in charge here,” Mann said. “We’re supposed to trust them with building a tunnel 150 feet under ground? If they don’t have this basic information how can they handle the bigger issues?”

“The Delta has been something in my family since I was a child,” she shared. “It’s a way to keep families together. So, when you say Delta you’re talking about families. This life is too short, and you have to enjoy it while it lasts.”

Mann is both a residential and commercial appraiser, which is why she represents the business community on the committee.

She’s also the president of Save the California Delta Alliance.

“We have an attorney that got them to back out of the other tunnel project,” Mann shared.

“It’s just a bunch of homeowners. This is our home. The waterway is our backyard. Our playground. Don’t mess with it,” she concluded before heading out into the Delta for the weekend on the family boat.

From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Same Old Song and Dance” on Fish Protections Says a Frustrated Jim Cox – Sports Fishing

Antioch resident Jim Cox ran a six-pack, sport fishing charter boat for 23 years and has been in the Delta since the early 1980’s and is now retired.

“I’m there representing fishing interests,” he shared. “It’s been a very frustrating thing to be involved in. They want us to come back with input from our constituents. The most common thing I hear is ‘what’s going to happen with Clifton Court?’”

The Clifton Court Forebay is where the water is collected south of the Delta before being pumped further south.

Delta Smelt. Photo from DCA SEC.

“When the current is flowing in there, it’s so strong the fish can’t get out,” Cox explained. “The screens on the pumps are not designed that well. Estimates are anywhere from 15-50,000 striped bass that are trapped in there. They’re only 8 or 9 inches but they’re fully matured fish.”

“They say Clifton Court Forebay is a separate project,” he continued. “I’ve had conversations with Terry Buckman from DWR. The Delta Improvement Act of 2009 has the two goals of habitat restoration and less reliance for water supply. They’re definitely focused on the water supply.”

“They call it EcoRestore, which is part of DWR and the ironic thing is they say ‘we’re not working on that for another year or so.’ This committee will be disbanded before then,” Cox stated.

“This is the same song and dance that fishermen have been told for the past 25 years,” he complained. “In 1994 there was the CalFed agreement. The water contractors were supposed to build state of the art screens across Clifton Court so fish couldn’t get in. But it’s still never been built. “

‘Most of these DWR folks are in their 40’s so they weren’t around…and they’re taking the word for it from others at DWR,” said Cox.

“The real problem is predation (preying of one animal on another), primarily for striped bass,” he continued. “It is a problem because the current flows in there, year-round, 24 hours a day. Larger fish just stick around at the entrance and pick off the smaller fish. They try to make it sound like it’s the striped bass. It’s not. It’s the fact they never built the screens.”

“We were told Fish and Game have plans to remove predators. They have no plans for any such thing. They say it’s a useless idea. Once you get rid of one predator another species will move in,” Cox shared. “Then they said the problem is the outer screens. There aren’t any outer screens. It consists of rabbit wire fence to keep boats and floating logs out of Clifton Court. It has nothing to do with fish.”

“They won’t say anything of how they’re going to make it better. This is why it’s becoming a frustrating endeavor for me,” he stated. “On the one hand they are being responsive to some complaints. But it all revolves around building the tunnel.”

From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“They won’t even listen to the fishermen. I’ve been tempted to resign a couple times over this. But, if I’m not there who’s going to bring this up?” Cox asked, rhetorically. “First, they talked about having the committee a year. But now they’re talking about extending it.”

“It’s very frustrating trying to get them to listen,” he added.

On finances Cox said “we get told things in bits and pieces. The plan is for all of this to be paid for by the water users, the water contractors. The fine print is they’ve agreed to this in theory, but not in reality. They’re not going to agree to anything until they see the final plan. Over the last year, they’ve been trying to do what took them three years originally on the twin tunnels, to finalize this plan, to be able to move forward.”

“When this COVID thing hit, they said everyone wants to continue to work on this. That’s BS,” he said echoing Karen Mann’s comments. “No one wanted to continue to do this. But they kept pushing on this because they have financing deadlines. So, nope. They’re going to keep on going.”

“I feel in a lot of ways this committee is just going through the motions. I’m starting to feel like a pawn in a chess game,” he said with a chuckle.

Another financial issue Cox shared about was the pay for the DCA’s executive director Kathryn Mallon, who is earning $47,000 per month in her role. That’s in spite of the $54 billion deficit the state is projecting due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another report by the Sacramento News & Review covers that issue and the opposition from the water agencies that are expected to reimburse the state for her compensation.

Proximity of proposed sites to existing recreation facilities. Arrow points to Big Break in Oakley. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

Parks District Employee Offers Different Perspective: Mike Moran – Ex-Officio

Mike Moran, although an Oakland resident, represents Contra Costa County interests on the SEC, having worked in Eastern Contra Costa County for 26 years, as of August 1st. He works for the East Bay Regional Park District at the Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

“Big Break was an asparagus farm that flooded in 1927,” he shared. It’s a 1,688 acre park that’s mostly under water. The East County trail runs through there. Plus, they have a 1,200 square foot model of the Delta on the ground.

“In my position at the park commission and the SEC, we don’t take a pro or a con on this issue. We try to interpret this thing and why it’s being proposed, why it’s being opposed, and not just build it or don’t build it,” Moran explained. “I’m an ex-officio giving folks’ perspective from the East Bay Regional Parks point of view. There’s not a direct correlation on the tunnel.”

“We have land out here and we have folks paying taxes to get access to that land. So, what does this mean? What is the impact going to be where our constituents live?” he asked.

Proposed new Southern Forebay adjacent to Clifton Court Forebay. From 2019-12-11-DeltaConveyanceSystemOverview.

Moran also studied fisheries in grad school. Asked about the fish and Clifton Court Forebay that Jim Cox is concerned about, he said, “It’s part of the state water project, right now. The new forebay would be right next to Clifton Court, built to the west.”

However, Cox responded with, “The fact is that they still intend to use Clifton Court fifty-percent of the time. If the tunnel water was the only water heading into the canal then it would be fine, but that is not the case. Clifton Court will still be part of the water system and that is why I feel improvements to it should be part of the project, not a separate project.”

“The Harvey Banks Pumping Plant is part of the State Water Project. That water is sent through the California Aqueduct and the South Bay Aqueduct serving Alameda and Santa Clara Counties,” Moran explained.

“The feds will require an Environmental Impact Study on the project because it affects federal waters. That’s the Jones Pumping Plant, which is part of the federal water project. That water is pumped through the Delta Mendota Canal,” he shared.

“At the Clifton Court Forebay, as the water is drawn in, there’s a screen that screens out the fish. But it’s old school. It’s an old screen,” Moran explained. “Jim’s saying if we’re going to put in these high-tech screens north of the Delta, let’s do it at Clifton Court.”

Proposed intakes near Hood. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“The screening for the proposed tunnel will be located in Hood (north of Elk Grove) on the eastern side of the Sacramento River. There will be three intakes and those would have brand new, top of the line fish screens,” he continued. “So, no fish will be put in that tunnel beyond those screens.”

“That’s one of the selling points for this whole project,” Moran stated. “What we have now, is the diversion is over the surface across the Delta. So, we’re bringing in both water and fish.”

He provided some history to the diversion of Delta water.

“The idea of diverting water, moving water from the north and east, through the Delta is from the 1910’s,” Moran shared. “A lot of the facilities we have now, are not the same thing, but they’re based on Robert Marshall’s plans. He ran the national parks and was pushing this big project of moving water around California. So, that’s part of the rationale of what we have, now.”

Proposed South Delta Facilities. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

He also shared that “Antioch sued upstream water users in 1921 because of too much saltwater. So, this is nothing new.”

“Antioch is way ahead of the game putting in a brackish water plant. That’s a big, bold move,” Moran state. “But what are we going to do with saltwater intrusion up to CCWD?” (See related article)

Asked how the tunnel is a solution to the saltwater intrusion he answered, “It’s coming. If we divert or not, saltwater is coming. How do we prepare for that? In Antioch we build a desal plant. For those south of the Delta it’s a tunnel.”

“The way we’re doing things now, is water flows from the Sacramento River to the rest of the Delta. The pumps in Byron then pump it south,” Moran continued. “This water used to flow down the river and out into the Bay. Sometimes during the year, we have reverse flow, with the water from both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. When folks started taking water out in the Central Valley, less water comes out of the San Joaquin River. It was dry for 60 miles as recently as 1994. That was rectified through a court case.”

Proposed South Delta Conveyance Facilities Site Plan. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

Because the San Joaquin River is diverted before it reaches and “punches through the Delta”, farmers in the Delta have been relying on Sacramento River water.

“The Sacramento River, high quality, great water, it’s pulled down to the pumps. Not all the water, it’s less than half,” he said. “That goes against the natural flow and messes up the ecology.”

“We’ve gotten a lot of benefit over the past 100 years,” with the current system, Moran shared.

“So, if we don’t do something, if saltwater comes up, or if a levee breaks or a beaver chews through, that’s going to stop the flow of water.”

Rendering of proposed Pumping Plant Site Plan at the Southern Forebay. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Much of the land in the Delta is under sea level because of that peat soil, which is great for farming,” he explained. “But because of decisions made over 100 years ago, because people in the Delta communities and economies, and their way of life, it’s not sustainable.”

“We’re only taking water out when there’s enough to come through,” said Moran. “Like we’re doing, now when there’s Delta Smelt at the pumps, and we have water quality going down the tubes, the feds tell them to stop pumping.”

“It’s these local folks who are members of the committee saying, ‘wait a minute, we have lives that will be affected, too,’” he shared about his fellow SEC members. “The premise is let’s pretend this is getting built. If that’s the case, all you folks around the Delta who have this local experience and expertise, to advise the experts from the DWR.”

“So, that the water can be used all year round. That’s the point of it,” Moran continued. “Is there enough storage south of the Delta? If you’re going to pump water out of the Delta where are you going to store it? There’s the San Luis Reservoir, are we going to raise the height?”

Rendering of proposed Pumping Plant at the Southern Forebay. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Every governor has dealt with it, but Newsom is getting more traction,” he shared. “They have this portfolio plan which includes storage, moving water and ground water restoration. Not just sticking straws in the Delta and sucking it.”

“When it’s a common pool and we all have to drink out of the Delta and we all have to be responsible for it including maintaining the levees, and agriculture in the Delta,” Moran concluded.

No Committee Member Supports the Tunnel

Asked about the members of the stakeholders committee and how they were chosen, Nazli Parvizi, the Stakeholder Engagement lead for the DCA, said, “There is not a single member on the committee who supports this project. That’s based on what they wrote in their applications and others, what they’ve said over and over during the meetings.”

“It was an individual application. Not everybody represents their area of work. The requirement was if you live, work or recreate in the Delta in certain categories,” she explained. “If you have an ag person you balance it out with an environmental person. So, I think we have a good broad representation.”

“What we’re excited about Karen…she’s as reliable a source on waterways and boating as Jim Cox would be,” Parvizi shared.

“It’s not a voting body. We don’t make decisions as the DCA,” she explained. “We try to come up with the best engineering and design, the concepts and drawings and give them to Department of Water and it’s up to them.”

“We’re doing our best to take into account the Delta as place,” Parvizi continued. “So, they don’t just make sense from an engineering standpoint, but also as Delta as place. The folks who lead the DCA are representatives from DWR and the agencies that are members of the DCA. Kathryn Mallon, the Executive Director of the DCA is listening and took into consideration the Delta as place. The SEC is the result of that.”

About the committee members’ involvement, she said, “It’s trying to make the best of the worst, while at the same time trying to make sure it doesn’t happen. Karen has done a great job for Discovery Bay and boaters.”

“So, fight on your own time, protest, sue us, whatever and we’re OK with that and several are suing us,” said Parvizi. “We do want to make sure we are respectful of what you care about. They give us incredibly valuable feedback.”

“They fight their war, but on the battles they’re very collaborative,” she stated. “We give them all this information, being transparent as possible and half of them send it to their lawyers, which is fine. But they tell us which is better, A, B or C, and we make our recommendations to DWR.”

“We haven’t seen two groups fight it out,” Parvizi said, and explained how the members of the SEC work collaboratively. “If you move it (the tunnel) this way, it’s good for fish, but if you move it here, it’s good for birds. Or it’s good for animals. But if you put it here, it’s good for business.”

“We can come up with the pros and cons and I think that’s very valuable,” she added.

Opposition Efforts Continue

Efforts continue to stop the new Delta tunnel by groups such as Restore the Delta that have been fighting since the twin tunnels plan was first proposed. They along with Contra Costa County and the other members of the Delta Counties Coalition, Delta residents, Delta business owners, tribal representatives, fishing and non-governmental organizations and other Delta community-based organizations have all asked the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to pause Delta tunnel planning processes that require public participation due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Water Resources has refused.

Contra Costa is represented on the DCC by County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

In their letter dated April 7, 2020, the DCC wrote California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, “The Delta Counties Coalition (DCC) respectfully requests that you direct the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to pause all Delta Conveyance Project planning and engineering design processes that require Delta stakeholder engagement during the COVID-19 crisis, until the public can fully participate. We request that you ask the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) to pause its processes that require public participation, including Stakeholder Engagement Committee meetings, so that the Delta tunnel engineering design can be informed by meaningful public input. We also ask that you direct DWR and other resource agencies to extend public comment periods by at least 45 days beyond the end of the declared emergency.” 2020-04-07-Delta Counties Coalition-Letter-to-Secty-Crowfoot-re-Stay

The Secretary Crowfoot and the Department of Water Resources has refused, but have instead allowed the DCA and SEC to hold their meetings online.

Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the 20-member DCA Stakeholder Engagement Committee will be held on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 3-6 PM. Topics are expected to include: Scoping Update (DWR), Rehabilitation of construction impacted land, Final temporary and permanent boundaries, and Intakes Update (*subject to change). Ring Central Video Conference. Information Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1489140415;  iPhone one-tap: US: +1(916)2627278,,1489140415#; or Telephone: US: +1(623)4049000 Meeting ID: 148 914 0415.

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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Governor Newsom visits Project Roomkey motel in Pittsburg to announce “Homekey,” the next phase in state’s COVID-19 response to protect homeless Californians

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Gov. Newsom speaks at Motel 6 in Pittsburg to announce the state’s new Homekey program, with a sign language interpreter nearby, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Screenshot from press conference video.

  • State and counties will spend upwards of $1 billion to purchase hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and tiny homes and provide services to the homeless
  • State effort has served an estimated 14,200 individuals in three months
  • 15,679 hotel and motel rooms and 1,345 trailers for extremely vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness to help flatten the curve & preserve hospital capacity

PITTSBURG (June 30, 2020) – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Project Roomkey motel in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County to highlight progress that the state and counties have made in providing safe isolation capacity to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 and to launch Homekey, the next phase in the state’s effort to protect vulnerable homeless Californians from the pandemic.

Homekey, backed by $1.3 billion in newly available and eligible funding through the budget the Governor signed yesterday, will allow for the largest expansion of housing for people experiencing homelessness in recent history, while addressing the continuing health and social service needs of this vulnerable population.

Under the Homekey program, counties will partner with the state to acquire and rehabilitate a variety of housing types: hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, residential care facilities, and other tiny homes. All these new placements will serve people experiencing homelessness.

Counties and cities across the state will identify which buildings they intend to purchase and apply to the state for $550 million in grant funding dedicated to this purpose. Once acquired, the local governments will plan for the long-term social services and subsidy needs of the Homekey buildings, with access to $50 million in dedicated Homekey support and an additional $300 million in general local homelessness support which can be used for Homekey, among other priorities.

In addition to these fund sources, counties and cities can access billions more in additional federal stimulus funding which, while available for a variety of purposes, is eligible to be used to provide safe shelter for homeless individuals during the pandemic.

The Governor also announced $45 million in philanthropic support – $25 million from Kaiser Permanente and $20 million from Blue Shield of California – for a new services subsidy fund directed at counties that are implementing Homekey. These contributions, originally announced in January as part of the Governor’s proposed Access to Housing Fund, were redirected by the companies to support the Homekey effort.

Acquisitions and conversions undertaken as part of Homekey will benefit from new legislation that the Governor signed yesterday, providing a CEQA exemption and automatic zoning compliance to new homeless housing utilizing newly available state and federal funding.

“We’ve long dreamed about scooping up thousands of motel rooms and converting them into housing for our homeless neighbors,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “The terrible pandemic we’re facing has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy all these vacant properties, and we’re using federal stimulus money to do it. Hand in hand with our county partners, we are on the precipice of the most meaningful expansion of homeless housing in decades.”

The Homekey initiative builds upon the state’s current COVID-19 response effort, Project Roomkey, which has directly led to 15,678 hotel and motel rooms statewide being made available for this extremely vulnerable group of Californians. Over 14,200 people have been served by Project Roomkey motels since the epidemic began, according to estimates from the California Department of Social Services.

These Project Roomkey placements are spread across 52 counties and 293 hotels. The counties are responsible for identifying which individuals need a Project Roomkey placement, and then moving those individuals into the rooms.

See below for video of the governor’s press conference, today. It begins at approximately the 4:00 minute mark.

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s initiative to secure hotel & motel rooms to protect homeless individuals from #COVID19.

Posted by California Governor on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

 

In April, Governor Newsom announced a reimbursement partnership with FEMA, whereby local, state, and tribal governments are eligible to 75 percent cost-share for Project Roomkey activities, including hotel and motel rooms and wraparound supports such as meals, security, and custodial services.

These emergency protective measures are protecting public health by isolating the medically-vulnerable, thinning out the shelter population for social distancing, slowing the rate of spread of COVID-19 and, in turn, flattening the curve.

Homeless policy leaders and local elected officials have long called for hotel/motel conversion as a strategy to bring housing for the homeless online quickly and cost effectively.

Nan Roman, President & CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness: “The National Alliance to End Homelessness commends Governor Newsom and the State for their innovative and unwavering commitment to reduce homelessness via Homekey. Homekey is the logical and much-needed next step to Project Roomkey, California’s smart strategy to protect people experiencing homelessness in the COVID-19 pandemic. Homekey recognizes that homelessness is a public health AND a housing crisis and seizes the opportunity of the moment to increase the state’s affordable housing stock and target new units to those most in need.”

Philip Mangano, former Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for Presidents Obama and Bush: “Today Governor Newsom backs up his priority on homelessness with a $600 million investment to move homeless people off the streets and beyond shelters to starter homes. In his focus on housing through hotel/motel conversions the Governor is building on an initiative that reduced exposure to the virus and now offers a statewide strategic approach to produce more units faster and cheaper. That’s good for the taxpayer and good for homeless people.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Chair of the Big City Mayors Coalition: “California’s big cities feel the crisis of homelessness most acutely. On behalf of my dozen colleagues in the Big City Mayors Coalition, I express deep appreciation to Governor Gavin Newsom and Legislative leadership for creating the Homekey program, demonstrating their commitment to partner with our cities to confront the urgent needs of our unhoused residents. In unprecedented and uncertain times, we are grateful for the strong commitment of our state elected leaders to supporting cities on the front line working to end homelessness and human suffering.”

Heidi Marston, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA): “We’re grateful to Governor Newsom for his leadership and support of Project Roomkey. As a result of his quick and decisive actions, we were able to shelter more than 4,000 people most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, providing not only a roof over their heads but a safe space to isolate. Through this endeavor, we’ve proven we can bring people indoors quickly through strong partnerships between government, business, and community leaders. We have built momentum that we will hope will help us move folks from Project Roomkey into permanent housing.”

Tomiquia Moss, Founder & Chief Executive, All Home California: “California’s homelessness crisis preceded the COVID-19 pandemic. The State was creative in its response with the Project Roomkey initiative ensuring a safe housing response during this public health crisis. Recognizing the opportunity to purchase hotels and motels and provide housing options for people experiencing homelessness, California continues to demonstrate leadership in responding to this crisis. This approach will secure thousands of units statewide working in partnership with cities and counties and community based organizations. It will take strategies like these during this economic and public health crisis to ensure our most vulnerable residents aren’t left behind.”

 

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Contra Costa Sheriff Livingston calls $0 bail “irresponsible”, explains Brentwood machete man case

Monday, April 20th, 2020

Suspect Adam Ortega with machete on Brentwood residents’ porch, Sat. morning April 11, 2020. Sheriff Livingston’s badge. Herald file photos.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

35-year-old Adam Ortega, a transient in Brentwood, was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility at about 10 AM on Friday, April 17, 2020. He was booked for the offenses requested by the Brentwood police, possession of a dangerous weapon and probation violation. (See related articles, here, here and here)

Because of the Judicial Council of California’s mandatory emergency rule of zero bail for misdemeanors and non-violent/non-serious felonies, both of the alleged offenses committed by Ortega were zero bail. He was later cite released. (See related article)

“I like most California Sheriffs believe the Judicial Council’s decision to implement $0 bail for a wide range of criminal offenses was irresponsible, unnecessary and an overreaction,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston. “A state-wide solution to local issues is almost never good policy – that is certainly the case here. People who commit offenses against others should be held accountable, COVID-19 or not.”

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White Pony Express continues food deliveries to families who use school food pantries

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Despite school closures

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, almost all Contra Costa County schools are now closed for the protection of students. Despite this, White Pony Express (WPE), the food rescue nonprofit based in Pleasant Hill, will continue to deliver food to students and families being served by WPE’s “School Food Pantry Program.” Under this Program, WPE has been delivering fresh, surplus food to eleven free-lunch schools in the county. Since the schools are now closed, WPE will deliver the food to a nearby community center or church where families can still obtain it. Many of these families rely on this food to make ends meet.

Need for School Food Pantry Programs

Over 100,000 students in Contra Costa County, or 40%, qualify for the free lunch program. The goal of the School Pantry Program is to help eliminate hunger and increase students’ academic success so they can contribute more fully to the communities in which they live. Helen Jones, WPE’s Food Rescue Operations Manager says, “The families we serve through this program have

demanding challenges throughout the month. Many of the participants receive food stamps which only cover a portion of a month’s worth of food. The food that WPE provides to the schools we serve not only provides nutrition. It provides hope.”

Currently, WPE’s eleven school pantries are set up in schools located in Antioch, Bay Point, Martinez, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo. This year WPE’s school pantries will deliver in excess of 415,000 meals of quality, nutritious food. WPE plans to open new pantries in 2020, but

continuing the Program will depend on finding sustainable funding.

Institution of New Health Protocols

Based upon guidelines issued by the state and county, WPE will be incorporating new health guidelines to support state and local efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. These protocols (hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, gloves, social distancing, etc.) will be made a part of all aspects of WPE’s food and clothing operations.

“It is important for the public and our volunteers to know that WPE will be implementing strict cleanliness standards so that our valuable programs can continue safely,” says Mary Brooks, WPE’s Executive Director. “And the families at the schools we are serving should know that WPE is preparing and delivering this surplus food in accordance with these high standards.”

ABOUT White Pony Express: WPE is a volunteer powered 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Pleasant Hill, CA, which helps people move from the margins to the mainstream by providing free food and clothing in a loving and respectful manner.

Dr. Carol Weyland Conner founded WPE in September 2013 when she was troubled that with such as an abundance of food, many thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Out of this insight, the Food Rescue program was born. In a little over 6 years, WPE has rescued and delivered more than 10.5 million pounds (equivalent to 8,750,000 meals) of fresh, nutritious food, free of charge, that would otherwise go to waste.

In 2014 the White Pony General Store was added to provide high quality clothing, toys, and books to the underserved in our communities – all free of charge. Since that time, the General Store has given away over 512,000 items to those in need.

If you’d like to contribute to WPE’s School Food Pantry Program or its other programs, you can do so by visiting WPE’s website at www.whiteponyexpress.org/donate-funds. Those who wish to volunteer can sign up at www.whiteponyexpress.org/volunteer.

For more on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org.

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Supervisors approve acquisition of City of Antioch property for $1 for proposed homeless center

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Parcel map and aerial photo of Antioch land the County has agreed to purchase. 02-11-20

Recognize African American Mental Health Awareness Week

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors took a major step forward in tackling East County’s unyielding homeless problem in approving the acquisition of a 4.79-acre vacant parcel of property on Delta Fair Boulevard in Antioch for a proposed homeless navigation facility.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11 County Supervisors voted 4-0 to buy the property adjacent to the county’s Children and Family Services Center in Antioch and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

The land runs along the southern line of Delta Fair Boulevard, known as Assessor’s Parcel No. 074-080-034. (See parcel map above)

Supervisors agreed to buy the future site of the homeless navigation center for $1.00 from the City of Antioch. Supervisors approved the land acquisition on a consent action. Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill was absent during the meeting.

“This is a real hot item,” commented Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who represents District 5 where the proposed Antioch homeless center site is located. “We have tracked this project for a number of years and now we are getting close to seeing shovels in the ground.”

“The county is working collaboratively with the city and state to develop additional resources for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I expect we’ll add significant capacity to Continuum of Care. The conveyance of this parcel provides a lot of flexibility.”

“While this is not a housing development, the plan is to place a CARE center there for people needing shelter,” explained Contra Costa County Homeless Services Director Lavonna Martin. The proposed Antioch center will be modeled after those now available for persons needing housing assistance in Concord and Richmond.

So far Martin is unaware of any public complaints about the proposed homeless navigation center in Antioch because up to now the project’s 2018 award of a $7.9 million in California Homeless Emergency AID Block Grant Fund made it exempt from public review.

As a result, it is presently unknown if there any public opposition to the CARE center at the proposed Delta Fair Boulevard site.

“The city council hasn’t voted on it, yet,” said Antioch City Manager Ron Bernal.

A shelter for women and children had been proposed for the site, in the past. But, that project never materialized due to a lack of funding. This will allow the county to move forward with a project on the same site that will serve the homeless in Antioch and East County.

Approve Donation of County Land for Rodeo YMCA

In another consent real estate item, Supervisors approved the donation of an improved parcel of county property at 200 Lake Ave. in Rodeo to the Young Men’s Christian Association of the East Bay.

Since 1990, the county has leased the property the to the YMCA of the East Bay for $100 a month for children’s services. The county has declared the property surplus property and no longer requires the property for county purposes. The property is in need for repairs and is expected to cost the county in excess of $500,000. The board action essentially gets the county off the hook in being responsible for maintaining the property and for making necessary repairs.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized African American Mental Health Awareness Week Feb. 16 through 22 and Miles Hall Remembrance Day February 15, 2020 at their meeting on Tuesday. The supervisors’ resolution recognizes the need in the African American community to support the recovery process of peers, clients, consumers and family members struggling with challenges of mental health and substance use issues through the delivery of culturally responsive services. On Feb 22, a Mental Health Black History event will be held at Solomon Temple Church. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

CALeVIP Program Gets Green Light

In other business, the supervisors flashed the green light for the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department to proceed to work with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and other partners in the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project or CALeVIP. CALeVIP is focused on the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.

According to state statistics, Contra Costa County currently has 151 charging stations with about 400 EV ports. By the year 2025, some 3,500 EV ports will be needed to meet the increased demand of electric vehicle owners.

Approve Public Protection Committee 2019 Report

On a consent item, supervisors approved 12 crime items that will be focused on by the Public Protection Committee that meets nine times during 2020.

Topics that the Public Protection Committee will study are:

Opportunities to Improve Coordination of Response to Disasters and Other Public Emergencies: Welfare Fraud Investigation and Prosecution; Multi-Language Capability of the Telephone Emergency Notification System; County Support and Coordination of Non-Profit Organizations to Provide Re-entry Services; Implementation of AB 109 Public Safety Realignment and Appointment Recommendations to the Community Corrections Partnership; Inmate Welfare Fund/Telecommunications/Visitation Issues; Racial Justice Task Force Project Review of Juvenile Fees Assessed by the Probation Department; County Law Enforcement Participation and Interaction with Federal Immigration Authorities; Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council; Review of Banning Gun Shows at the County Fairgrounds, Review of Adult Criminal Justice Fees; and Racial Equity Action Plan.

Discovery Bay Resident Appointed to County Planning Commission

Discovery Bay resident Bob Mankin was appointed to complete the unfinished term of Contra Costa County Planning Commissioner Duane Steele, also of Discovery Bay, who had resigned.

Mankin was recommended by Supervisor Burgis to complete former commissioner Steele’s term of office on June 20, 2021.

The commission meets regularly twice a month and pays each of the five appointed commissioners $50 per meeting plus mileage. There is a $300 a month cap stipend per commissioner.

View the complete Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, here.

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