Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

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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Antioch’s Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch to close March 15 through Summer 2023

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch area and location of The Red Caboose restaurant nearby. Source: Google maps

For construction of brackish water desalination plant; could impact business for The Red Caboose restaurant nearby; boaters will have free access to launch at Antioch Marina during construction period

The Red Caboose restaurant. Photo from their Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

Today, Wednesday, March 9, 2021, the City of Antioch has announced that the boat launch located at 225 Fulton Shipyard Road will be closed beginning next Monday, March 15, with an anticipated re-opening in the summer of 2023. The closure is a result of construction related to the City of Antioch’s brackish water desalination plant. (See related articles, here and here)

John and Judy Pence, owners of The Red Caboose restaurant, nearby, are concerned about possible impacts to their business.

“You’d think they’d notify the only businesses nearby,” Judy Pence said when reached for comment. “If they’re going to have the road closed, obviously we can’t have that. We get some business from the boat launch ramp, but not a lot because they took out all the docks. So, there’s nothing for boaters to tie up to.”

“We’re going to have an issue, because that’s been overflow parking for us, if they close the parking lot,” she continued. “So, we’ll be very concerned if that happens.”

Questions were sent to City Manager Ron Bernal, Economic Development Director Kwame Reed and Public Works Director John Samuelson asking if all of the nearby property and business owners were notified about the boat launch closure and if there are any plans to help the restaurant offset any negative impacts that it might cause.

“I spoke with Judy Pence, just now,” Samuelson responded. “She was supposed to be notified but that didn’t happen. So, I apologized to her for that.”

“I explained to her that we won’t be closing the street during construction, so traffic to the restaurant won’t be blocked,” he continued. “Hopefully, this could be good for their business, as our contractor and workers can eat there for lunch.”

“We’ll be using Roger’s Point as the staging area,” Samuelson added.

Free Launching at Marina Location

Anyone seeking access to a boat launch will have access to the Antioch Marina Boat Launch located at the end of L Street. It will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost during the construction period. Additionally, Antioch residency is not required for use of the Antioch Marina Boat Launch.

About the City of Antioch Brackish Water Project

At a price of $110 million, the Brackish Water Desalination Plant was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

This is a resiliency project that will mitigate the impacts of upstream freshwater diversion, prepare for future freshwater diversion, once the Delta conveyance project/tunnel is completed beneath the Delta to send the water south, and will accomplish drought reliability improvements. Once completed, Antioch will be firmly positioned to preserve its pre-1914 water rights and provide the city with a reliable source of drinking water for generations. For more information: http://www.antiochbrackishdesal.com/ 

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

City of Antioch PIO Rolando Bonilla contributed to this report.

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President Trump announces modernized environmental review process for infrastructure projects

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIjnkkZQWhU

Start video at the 58 minutes mark.

Delivers Remarks on the Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure: Faster, Better, Stronger

For the first time in 40 years, President Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process to accelerate America’s infrastructure development

“By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom.” – President Donald J. Trump

On Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at the UPS Hapeville Airport Hub in Atlanta, Georgia, President Donald Trump offered the following remarks announcing a streamlined, modernized environmental review process to accelerate infrastructure projects in America.

Pres. Trump and the environmental review process charts, old on the right and the new, One Federal Decision policy process on the left. Video screenshot of his remarks July 15, 2020.

“For decades, the single biggest obstacle to building a modern transportation system has been the mountains and mountains of bureaucratic red tape in Washington, D.C.  Before I took office, reviews for highways ballooned to an average of nearly 750 pages in length.  And they were the good ones; they were the short ones.

And I know because I was in business for a long time, and I had to go through a process that was so ridiculous.  It was so ridiculous.  We went through a process for building buildings, usually.  It would take forever.  By the time you’d start building, the market changed.  You said, “You know, the market was good when we started; now the market is lousy.”  So you’d say, “The hell with it.  We won’t build.”  Sometimes you’d start building and you’d say, “That was a mistake.”

But we went through years and years of litigation and tumult, and it was just not good.  But you go through it to an even greater extent.

The maze-like approval process represented lobbyists that were very rich; they were making a lot of money.  I remember I’d go up to Albany, New York, and I’d see my lobbyists up there.  I said, “What are you doing here?”  I knew what they were doing.  They were trying to make it more difficult.  So you had to hire them for more and more work, spend millions and millions of dollars for nothing.

But too often, they caused massive delays, on top of everything else.  And that way, they got their fees over a longer period of time.  It’s one of the reasons why, for example, the average Atlanta driver spends an incredible 77 hours in traffic during a short period of time.

But all of that ends today.  We’re doing something very dramatic.  (Applause.)  We just completed an unprecedented — and I don’t want to say it’s absolutely unprecedented — top-to- bottom overhaul — should have been done years ago — of the infrastructure approval process; this approval process that has cost trillions of dollars over the years for our country and delays like you wouldn’t believe.

This is a truly historic breakthrough, which means better roads, bridges, tunnels, and highways for every UPS driver and every citizen all across our land.  Together, we’re reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation of builders and a nation that can get things done, because with these horrible roadblocks that were put in front of us, you couldn’t get it done.  No matter how good you were, you couldn’t get it done.  You’d wait and wait.  You’d go to the next step.  You’d say, ‘You can’t start the next step until you finish the first.’”

“Today’s action is part of my administration’s fierce commitment to slashing the web of needless bureaucracy that is holding back our citizens.  I’ve been wanting to do this from day one.  And we started it on day one — literally, on day one — but it takes a long time.  You have statutory requirements; you have a lot of different roadblocks even to changing it.  But the change you’ll be hearing about in a minute.  And it’s one of the biggest things we can be doing for our country.

The last administration increased the Federal Register by 16,000 pages of job-killing regulations.  Under my administration, we have cut the Federal Register by nearly 25,000 pages, more than any President in history, whether it’s four years, eight years, or in one case, more.  And we, frankly — this, I would think, is maybe the biggest of all.  We did the U.S. Waters — you saw that.  The U.S. Waters Act.  That was a big one.  That was a big one.  (Applause.)

I thought I was going to take a lot of heat when I did that, and instead it was just the opposite.  People came up — grown men that had never cried, even when they were a baby — they were standing behind me when I signed that bill at the White House, and they were crying.  They were crying — because we gave their life back to them.  That took their life away.  It took their livelihood away.  It was a big, big moment.

But this is a big moment today too — probably, possibly equally as big.  Today’s action completely modernizes the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.  We are cutting the federal permitting timeline from a staggering 10 years, 15 years, 18 years, 21 years — you know the story; you’ve seen it — projects that start out.  A young guy heads the project.  By the time it gets approved or disapproved — in many cases, disapproved; usually disapproved — he’s getting ready to retire.

‘So what did you do for your life?’  ‘I worked on one project.  We didn’t get it through in the end.’  No, we won’t get certain projects through for environmental reasons; they have to be environmentally sound.  But you know what?  We’re going to know in a year.  We’re going to know in a year and a half.  We’re not going to know in 20 years.

So we’re cutting the federal permitting timeline for a major project from up to 20 years or more — hard to believe — down to two years or less.  So we have it down to about two years right now, Elaine, and I think two years or less.  And our goal is one year.  And you may get disapproved.  It may — they may vote, at the end, they didn’t like something environmentally or safety-wise, and I’m all for that, but you’re not going to devote a lifetime to doing a project that doesn’t get approved or that gets approved.

And oftentimes, when it gets approved, it comes in at 10, 20, 30 times the cost.  There’s a highway in a certain state — a short road, not even a highway, I guess; more of a roadway.  And they put in.  It was a straight line from point to point.  By the time they finished it, 18 years later, it was this.  It cost tens of times.  It cost many, many, many times more than the original.  It’s a dangerous roadway because there’s turns.  You got to be in good shape.  You got to be wide awake to make those turns.  You got to see those things.  You have to see the guardrails.  Bom.  They had a simple, straight roadway, and now they build it — they end up — it took 17 years to get it approved.  Ended up costing many, many times what the original estimates were, and it’s no good.  It’s not good.

Under the last administration, a mere 7 percent of reviews for federal highways were processed within two years.  Now what we’re doing is the two years won’t be the exception; it’ll be the rule.  So what we’re doing is, we’re going to have that coming down at a much steeper rate.  This will reduce approval times for highways alone by at least 70 percent.  But the 70 percent is a very unambitious number because the number is going to be actually much lower than that.

At the heart of the reforms is the One Federal Decision policy.  It really spells it out when you hear that name: One Federal Decision.  Before, applicants for infrastructure permits were forced to spend years and years navigating a labyrinth of federal agencies, and every single one had a power to stop a project.  Anytime you went to an agency, they had a power to stop it.  And it would stop the project — not only stop it; but right in its tracks it would stop it.

With our reforms, there will be one quick and fair decision.  We’re going to give every project a clear answer: Yes or no.  Yes or no.  The two-year process, where just to submit is two years, is not acceptable.  It’s going to be a very quick ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ after study, but the studies are going to go quickly and they’re going to go simultaneously.

Close up of the two environmental review process charts

So if you’re in numerous agencies, you’re all going at the same time.  Instead of waiting for one, for two, for three — and oftentimes, you’d go through one, it would take you six months, and then you have to wait 90 days, and then you have a review period, and then you start the second one.  And now you go for another four months, and then you wait 90 days, and you have a review period.  And sometimes you had to go through 9, 10, 12 different agencies.  So even if you did absolute rapid, it was many, many years before you could even think about starting it.

We have up here, by the way — that’s a chart of the old system and the new system.  And I think the new system is better.  (Applause.)  I think it’s better not only in time; I think it’s better in terms of the process, and I think it’s better in terms of the importance from an environmental and a safety standpoint.

But take a look at that.  This is what you had to go through.  In fact, it was much more dramatic when I first came up with this about a year ago.  We took that and we rolled it out.  It was so dramatic.  And it just kept going and going.  So the difference is that.  And many of those steps, you had to wait before you could even think about going to the next one, and you had to get full approvals.

Any one of those colors, where there was a problem or a rejection, meant it was dead.  And now you go through this very simple, but very comprehensive solution.  And it’s a beautiful thing, especially if you understand construction and building, and other things beyond building, like I do.

At the same time, we’ll maintain America’s gold standard environmental protections.  The United States will continue to have among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on Earth — which we do now.”

MODERNIZING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS: For the first time in 40 years, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process.

  • The Trump Administration is issuing a final rule that will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), so that infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner.
  • This marks the end of a multi-year review, which produced more than 1.1 million public comments and involved a broad range of stakeholders.
  • The final rule modernizes Federal NEPA regulations, including by codifying certain court decisions to clarify NEPA’s application and by expanding public involvement in NEPA reviews through the use of modern technology.
  • The rule also improves management by incorporating President Trump’s One Federal Decision policy, establishing time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.
  • Together, these common sense reforms will slash unnecessary government bureaucracy and accelerate important infrastructure projects all across the Nation.

STREAMLINING INFRASTRUCTURE APPROVALS: The Federal environmental review process has historically been far too complex, costly, and time consuming.

  • Since NEPA’s enactment, the environmental review process has been burdensome for both Federal agencies conducting reviews and Americans seeking permits or approvals.
  • Environmental impact statements average over 650 pages, and it takes Federal agencies on average four and a half years to conduct required reviews.
  • According to the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental impact statements for highway projects take more than seven years on average and often take a decade or more.
  • NEPA reviews are also frequently challenged in court, making it very challenging for businesses and communities to plan, finance, and build projects in the United States.

CUTTING RED TAPE: President Trump is reversing years of burdensome overregulation and administrative abuse, simultaneously ensuring meaningful environmental reviews and spurring economic growth.

  • President Trump is making good on his promise to conduct historic deregulation, removing job killing regulations that have stifled economic growth for far too long.
  • Already the President has reversed burdensome regulations like the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
  • President Trump also did away with the Obama Administration’s expensive, heavy handed, and job-killing Clean Power Plan, replacing it with the much improved Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.
  • The President launched his Governors’ Initiative on Regulatory Innovation to cut outdated regulations, put people over paperwork, and align Federal and State regulations.
  • Under President Trump, the United States has remained a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while becoming the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

 

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