Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

Supervisors hire from within, choose Deborah Cooper as County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Soon to be appointed Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Deborah Cooper at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Long-time Clerk/Recorder Administrator gets nod for $350,000 a year post; Mitchoff withdrew application

By Daniel Borsuk

By leveraging 24 years of experience in the Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters Office, Deborah Cooper unanimously earned the nod of approval from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to become the next Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters.

But it wasn’t a smooth ride to convince the five supervisors in selecting the longtime Clerk/Recorder Administrator to the top Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters’ position.

Supervisors instructed County Administrator David Twa to have criminal and personal background checks conducted on the career Clerk/Recorder Office Administrator so that supervisors can put their final stamp of approval on their selection at a meeting on February 4.

Cooper, a Danville resident, outlasted four other candidates for the elected post that became vacant October 30 when former office holder Joseph Canciamilla of Pittsburg, resigned when a California Fair Practices Commission audit uncovered that the former state assemblymember had illegally spent $130,529 in campaign funds for personal expenses. Canciamilla has paid a $150,000 CFPC fine, but still faces potential criminal charges and forfeiture of his state pension.

Bisa French, the interim Richmond Police Chief delivered a speech at the 42nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors chambers in Martinez on Tuesday. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Cooper said she is willing to run for the elected office in three years, unless the supervisors change the office from an elected to an appointed post during the interim. The longtime department administrator remarked that expanding voter outreach and relying on current department IT personnel to ensure election security and safety will be among her priorities if she is permanent Clerk/Recorder and Registrar of Voters.

“You currently have someone who has held an important position in the office for 24 years and knows how to maintain control,” said former County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of voters Steve Weir, who endorsed Cooper for the full-time top post.

Competition for the $350,000 a year post was intense, especially from former California Assemblymember Catharine Baker of Dublin, who, even though she resides in Alameda County, said she “held the keys” to a residence in Contra Costa County that would help her meet the residency requirement by the February 4th date when Supervisors are expected to officially approve the finalist.

“I’d bring a sense of transparency to the office,” said Baker, who ran into a rough patch of questions from District 1 Supervisor John Gioia concerning her interpretation of the State Voter Identification Law. “I support the policy that requires voter ID,” Baker said. But Gioia responded “There is nothing in the voter ID law that discourages people from voting.”

Also in the competition for the top post were former El Cerrito Mayor Mark Friedman, who pledged to use his philanthropic fundraising skills to bolster the Clerk/Recorder Office’s functions; Deputy Registrar of Voters Scott Kopanaseke, who leveraged his extensive elections IT and cybersecurity expertise; and Lafayette resident Kristin Connelly, President and CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council, who said she has the leadership skills to bring changes to the department where voting at polls is on the decline while voting by mail is on the rise.

On the initial vote, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, herself a candidate for the position until she withdrew her application on January 16, citing “personal reasons” for pulling out, sided with District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover to appoint Cooper to the post for the next three years. Both Glover and Mitchoff liked Cooper’s experience and knowledge of the department and what needs to be done immediately.

Supervisors Gioia and District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis initially voted for Friedman and Board Chair Candace Andersen called former assemblymember Baker “my first choice,” and described Koponaseke for “doing amazing things,” wound up voting for Cooper’s appointment as did Gioia and Burgis on a second vote.

Supervisors recognized the 400 county eligibility workers on Tuesday by designating January as Eligibility Workers Month in Contra Costa County. Eligibility workers assist receipients and prospective recipients eligible for a myriad of public assistance programs. Those programs include Medi-Cal, Welfare-to-Work, CalWorks, FosterCare, KinGap, and CalFresh. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Bisa French, the interim Richmond Police Chief delivered a speech at the 42nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors chambers in Martinez on Tuesday.  French, a Richmond native, spoke about her experiences growing up in Richmond, her ordeal while undergoing police cadet training, and how she rose through the ranks to where she is today.  Also honored at the ceremony were Tamisha Walker, who is co-founder and executive director of the Safe Return Project, a Richmond organization invested in securing the freedom of formerly incarcerated individuals. Concord High School student Christina Mazzi, a 17-year-old Ugandan-American, founded ProjectWOC, an Instagram based community organization working to inspire the younger generation of girls of color. Christina has a 4.1 grade point average at Concord High School.

Make It Easier to Build Granny Units

In other business, supervisors adopted an overhauled ordinance to create regulations permitting procedures for accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units. The new ordinance puts the county ordinance in compliance with the state ordinance, Stanley Muraoka of the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development said. The updated ADU ordinance aims to encourage residential property owners in unincorporated Contra Costa County to build ADU’s as the state undergoes an affordable housing crisis.

Among some of the changes are the elimination of requirements setting minimum lot size and maximum lot coverage. For the first time, junior ADU’s are permitted of up to 500 feet within an existing single-family dwelling and can be combined with or in addition to a regular detached ADU on the same lot.

Accept Grant for Sheriff-Coroner Forensic Unit

Supervisors also approved a Sheriff-Coroner Office’s consent item to accept a grant of $408,854 for the Sheriff’s Forensic Services Unit to buy a Liquid-Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Instrument starting October 1. The LC-MS/MS will allow the Sheriff’s Office crime laboratory to provide more information on driving under the influence of drugs and drug facilitated sexual assault cases without the need of outside testing.

The Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in the number of newer or “emerging drugs” inclusive of fentanyl analogs, designer benzodiazepines, synthetic cannabinoids and “bath salts.” A LC-MS/MS would aid the crime lab to increase the variety of drugs that can be tested and eventually provided the law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution purposes.

Allocate $1.2 Million for Walnut Creek Area Park Landscaping

Supervisors also approved allocations of $1.2 million in total Park Dedication Funds for landscaping projects at two public parks in the Walnut Creek area. The Public Works Department plans to spend $800,000 to install and maintain landscaping at Walden Green along a half-mile stretch of the Iron Horse Trail Corridor. The Public Works Department plans to spend $400,000 at Fox Creek Park, 118 Anthony Way, in Walnut Creek to upgrade the park by replacing some of the landscaping with more sustainable landscaping and increasing American with Disability Act accessibility.

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Board of Supervisors installs new leadership with Andersen as Chair, Burgis Vice Chair

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa, who will retire at the end of 2020, administered the oath of office to new Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen of Danville and Vice Chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood at the Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Photo by Daniel Borusk.

Martinez, CA – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors held a swearing-in ceremony for Supervisor Candace Andersen as Board Chair and Supervisor Diane Burgis as Vice Chair at its January 7th, 2020 Board meeting.

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen who has served Contra Costa County since she was first elected in 2012, including a previous term as Board Chair in 2016, takes the leadership role from outgoing Chair, Supervisor John Gioia of District 1.

Gioia of Richmond, who was presented with a prized Hawaiian Koa wood gavel from incoming Andersen as a gift, credited the “great work of county employees” in 2019 for salvaging a year marked by power  outages and catastrophic fires.

Andersen expressed her thanks to Gioia, as well as her readiness to tackle the County’s issues.

“I appreciate Supervisor Gioia’s leadership in maintaining our County’s strong fiscal position and ensuring that many who need County services receive them in a timely manner. As Chair, I intend to work with my colleagues to strengthen the County’s commitment to supporting our law enforcement to keep our communities safe,  expand our work addressing homelessness and the need for more housing, and do even more to help individuals, families and communities confronting mental health issues,” she said.

Andersen, who has served as a supervisor since 2012 and previously chaired the board in 2016, said there will plenty of business items the supervisors will address in 2020.  Among the issues she listed were updating the county tree and Airbnb ordinances, considering a $20 million housing grant, and the grand openings of the new county and new sheriff’s office administration buildings.

Burgis, who has served on the County’s Board of Supervisors since 2017, representing the largest geographic region of the five districts, said she will work on the 2020 census, the Delta, and public safety and fire safety issues  during the year.

Andersen is completing her second term, facing no opposition in her re-election bid, while Burgis, who represents parts of Antioch, is completing her first, facing one opponent in the March Primary election. They will lead the five-member elected body that sets the direction of county government and oversees its $4.43 billion budget to serve this large and diverse East Bay County.

For more information about Contra Costa County and its Board of Supervisors, visit the County’s website at www.contracosta.ca.gov or the webpage: https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/193/Board-of-Supervisors.

Daniel Borsuk contributed to this report.

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Supervisors’ 2020 Top Issues: New county clerk, short-term rental law, airport projects, cannabis retail permits, elections

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized Larry Sly the retired executive director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties for his 43 years of public service on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. The University of California at Berkeley history graduate is known for building up the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano into one of the premier provider of food to those in need in the county, The development of the Great Food Fight between Contra Costa and Solano counties raises thousands of dollars annually between the two counties. At the presentation were from left, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, Food Bank Communications Director Lisa Sherill, Board Chair John Gioia, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, Larry Sly, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, Food Bank Programs Director Caitlin Sly and Vice Chair Candace Andersen. Sly says he has no immediate plans of what he will do during his retirement. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Honor former Food Bank Executive Director Larry Sly

By Daniel Borsuk

Look for 2020 to be an unusually busy year for the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

The elected officials are expected to take up complex issues like choosing a new County Clerk, adoption of a short-term rental ordinance, numerous construction projects at the county’s two airports, and decide on potentially 11 land use permits for cannabis businesses, perhaps in March, while two members run for re-election.

New County Clerk-Recorder

In the first two months of the new year, supervisors will also be busy selecting a new county clerk-recorder registrar of voters to replace Joseph Canciamilla, who was forced to resign in late October when it was disclosed that he had illegally used campaign funds for personal use. The California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Canciamilla $150,000 for the illegal action.

Short-Term Rental Ordinance

Supervisors got a glimpse of a Draft Short-term Rental Ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting and flashed the green light for Conservation and Development Department (CDD) Director John Kopchik and his staff to proceed in drafting an ordinance for potential board adoption in 2020.

Supervisors directed CDD officials to proceed to draft a Short-term Rental Ordinance in the aftermath of the Halloween night murder spree at an Orinda house that was rented as an Airbnb where five people died and four others were injured. In late November, federal law enforcement authorities had arrested Frederick Johnson, 29, of Vallejo and Domico Dones, 29, of Martinez in connection with the mass shooting.

Presently, unincorporated Contra Costa County does not permit short-term rentals because it has no law on the books addressing the growing rental practice.

So far, supervisors have discussed modeling a potential short-term rental ordinance with a 90-day limit involving a complete house, not a unit of a house. County planners are also reviewing capping the total number of persons at a short-term rental at no more than 20 persons, banning the posting of signs, excessive noise and traffic, and prohibiting special events such as a conference, wedding or commercial event.

Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood said enforcement of a STR ordinance will be a difficult task and CDP Director Kopchik agreed, saying “Enforcement is a challenge. We won’t get a lot of money from enforcement of this ordinance.”

Airports Draw Big Bucks

On a positive note, Supervisors heard Director of Airports Keith Freitas report at Tuesday’s meeting that the county owned and operated airports – Buchanan Field Airport in Concord and Byron Airport – generated $8.4 million in revenue for the airports, county and schools in 2017-2018. During that fiscal year Freitas, who said the airports must be financially dependent on their own revenues, distributed $2.2 million to the county, $882,801 to the schools, and $5.1 million to airport enterprises.

The airports are luring developers, Freitas said. On the drawing boards for Buchanan Field are a new Buchanan Field Airport Terminal, a Concord Airport Self Storage, a new Fire Station No. 9, and on the west side of the airport two major business parks are planned – a three-acre and a 16-acre business park.

Byron Airport is also attracting development, including a 36-acre non-aviation development and a three-acre aviation hangar development.

Freitas said the county airports are in discussions with Alaska and New Mexico Unmanned Aircraft System FAA test sites to potentially strike up a partnership with Buchanan Field and Byron Airport. Potential contracts could mean more jobs and revenue for the airports.

Freitas said the two airports provide 828 jobs in the county – 808 jobs at Buchanan Field and 20 jobs at Byron Airport.

Cannabis Land Use Permits

Possibly at the Supervisors’ March 24 meeting, supervisors will act in awarding land use permits to up to four cannabis retail and seven cannabis commercial cultivation applicants that Supervisors had selected a a Dec. 10th meeting. Supervisors set a 90-day period for the 11 successful candidates to complete and submit land use applications with the Department of Conservation & Development. That application deadline is March 9.

The four retail candidates moving ahead in the selection process are Authentic 925 for a location in South Pacheco, Artist Tree in El Sobrante, Embarc Contra Costa in North Pacheco and Garden of Eden for South Pacheco.

In the running for commercial cultivation permits are Lifted Spirit-Brentwood; 703 Chesley, LLC; Element 7 – Chestnut Street of Brentwood; Element 7 – Willow Way in Byron; Casa Resta Farms of Brentwood, Diablo Valley Farm of Brentwood and Magic Flower Gardens.

Lastly, the supervisors and county employees now working out of the old administrative building at 651 Pine Street in Martinez will be moving into a four-story, 71,000 square foot, $60 million administrative building is spring. The new building will replace the old administrative building at 651 Pine St.

Three Supervisors Up For Election, Two Face Opponents

Three members of the Board are up for re-election but only two are facing opponents in the March Primary Election. Burgis running for a second term in District 3, faces one opponent and Federal Glover, running for a sixth term in District 5, faces two opponents. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two will runoff in the General Election in November. Candace Andersen will be re-elected to her third term representing District 2, since no one filed to run against her.

2020 is shaping up to be a transformative year for the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in more ways than one.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Supervisors OK 4 cannabis retail, 7 cultivation applicants to proceed in permit process

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Retail cannabis store fronts proposed in unincorporated areas, planned or proposed in cities and existing. From the presentation to CCC Board of Supervisors.

By Daniel Borsuk

The number of cannabis businesses seeking Contra Costa County land use permits to legally operate retail or commercial cultivation operations became a bit more crystal clear after the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday selected four retail applicants and seven cultivation applicants to proceed in the demanding planning process.

The supervisors’ 5-0 action means applicants in the competition will need to satisfy a series of requirements including filing and receiving State and County cannabis licenses and complying with Conservation and Development Department (CDD) land use permit requirements.

The Supervisors’ action in narrowing down the field of appropriate cannabis retail and commercial cultivate operators comes nearly three years after California voters passed Proposition 64 that paved the way for the legal possession and use of cannabis for persons 21 years old or more in the Golden State. Prop. 64 opened the door to the legal sale, manufacture and distribution of cannabis in California.

Supervisors are expected to revisit the status of the nine applicants’ permit compliance in March when land use permits could be granted to applicants who successfully meet CDD requirements.

Supervisors followed the recommendations presented by the 10-member Cannabis Proposal Review Panel that had scored the 21 business candidates vying for Retail Storefront Land Use Permits and 18 candidates competing for Commercial Cultivation Land Use Permits.

County representatives from CDD, the Health Services Department, Department of Agriculture, and Contra Costa County Fire Protection District served on the Cannabis Proposal Review Panel earlier this year that scored each applicant based on location, business and operation plan, security plan, community benefit, and equitable geographic distribution.

Supervisors voted to permit four of the 20 initial Retail Storefront applicants to proceed in the permit process. Those applicants were Authentic 925 at South Pacheco with 1,155 total Cannabis Proposal Review Panel points, The Artist Tree in El Sobrante with 1,140 points, Embarc Contra Costa at North Pacheco with 1,130 points, and Garden of Eden for South Pacheco with 1,105 points.

Getting the green light to proceed among Commercial Cultivation candidates were: Lifted Spirit with its Brentwood proposal that garnered 1,175 points from the Cannabis Review Panel; 703 Chesley, LLC with 1,125 points placed second; Element 7- Chestnut Street of Brentwood placed third with 1,120 points; Element 7- Willow Way in Byron with 1,090 points placed fourth; Casa Resta Farms of Brentwood and Diablo Valley Farms of Brentwood each collected 1,080 points and tied for fifth place, and Diablo Valley Farms placed sixth with its Brentwood proposal that collected 1,080 points.   Magic Flower Gardens, LLC with 1,055 points placed seventh for its Richmond plan.

Supervisors heard a number of complaints from Brentwood residents who protested that permitting marijuana cultivation operations in an agricultural area known for its pumpkins, corn, nuts, and cherry production will be spoiled by the introduction of cannabis operations that could attract crime, devalue property values, and trigger an array of other negative environmental impacts.

“The Element 7 – Chestnut Street development will bring down our home values,” protested Rubin Garcia Scott who lives on Chestnut Street nearby the proposed Brentwood cultivation development. “It will bring crime. Already we have had homes broken into.”

Chestnut Street farm owner Shelley McMahon protested, “Now I’m going to wake up to the stench of cannabis. I am not really happy about this. Who is going to buy my farm? We are known for growing corn, cherries, and alfalfa, not cannabis.”

Supervisors heard from several speakers supporting retailer Elemental Wellness’s application that placed eighth in the Cannabis Proposal Review Panel scoring with 1,075 points. Pittsburg resident Jack Frank, who uses cannabis products for medicinal purposes, said having a store in Pacheco would mean he would not have to travel to an Oakland store for reliable product advice from store personnel who are “knowledgeable about their products.”

Supervisors were also advised that the county ordinance would have be revised to address the transferability of cannabis land use permits or changes in owners of cannabis businesses.

“If a cannabis permit terminates because a change in ownership results in one or more new persons owning a total of 20 percent or more of the business, the business may not operate until a new permit is obtained,” CDD Director John Kopchik wrote in a statement to supervisors.

Read additional details and more maps from the meeting’s agenda item, here and here.

Formation of Police Tax Zones Approved

Contra Costa residents in planned new subdivisions were granted the opportunity to tax themselves for additional police protection provided by the Sheriff’s Office. Supervisors approved three requests for the formation of proposed County Service Area P-6 – Police Services – for subdivisions in unincorporated areas of the county. Property owners in the newly created Police Zones will vote in a February 11, 2020 election to either pass or reject the police tax measure that will fund the enhanced police services.

Supervisors approved the formation of Police Zones for eight property owners along Center Avenue in Pacheco, for a five-lot El Sobrante development by Pandher Subdivision, and for a four-lot development on Gloria Terrace in unincorporated Lafayette.

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Supervisor Glover files for re-election to sixth term

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Supervisor Federal Glover. Herald file photo.

Incumbent Supervisor Federal Glover, representing District 5 on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, officially filed for re-election on Monday with the County Registrar of Voters Office.

“I’m so proud of our accomplishments and excited to be applying for a final term to complete the good work we started,” said Glover.

He has been one of the County’s top transportation advocates, identifying funding to improve Highway 4, I-680, and bring BART to Pittsburg and Antioch.

“We’re in the beginning of negotiations on establishing possible ferry service to San Francisco from Hercules, Martinez, Bay Point and Antioch, and I want to see that through completion for the residents I represent,” Glover added.

Other accomplishments that make Glover proud: Bringing the County into a AAA financial rating due to sound budgeting decisions, establishing three Family Justice Centers to support victims of domestic violence, increasing prosecution of human traffickers who kidnap and victimize young women, strengthening the Industrial Safety Ordinance to reduce refinery accidents, and leading the fight to protect open space, our hillsides and maintaining the County’s Urban Limit Line to control growth.

Glover says that making PG&E accountable for upgrading its service, and working with cities to create alternative forms of energy to decrease the company’s issuance of power outages is another issue he is working on that requires more work.

“Supervisor Federal Glover was there for our firefighters and our residents during the massive fires we experienced the last couple of years. We wholeheartedly support Supervisor Glover’s re-election and look forward to working closely with him for another term,” said Firefighter Vince Wells, President of Contra Costa Firefighters Local 1230.

Glover is also endorsed by the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the Contra Costa Building and Construction Council, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Association, police associations, Congressional, Senate, Assembly and local city elected officials (see partial list of endorsements, below).

“We have a great campaign team and I will raise whatever donations necessary to run a top-notch campaign to the voters of District 5,” Glover added. “This will be my last term on the Board of Supervisors, and I’m excited to complete the projects important to my District.”

Glover’s district includes Martinez, Hercules, Pinole, Alhambra Valley, Briones, Antioch, Port Costa, Clyde, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Crockett, Mt. View, Pacheco, Reliez Valley, Rodeo, Tormey & Vine Hill.

Supervisor Federal Glover Endorsements (partial list)

Congressman Mike Thompson

Congressman Jerry McNerney

State Treasurer Fiona Ma

State Senator Bill Dodd

State Senator Steve Glazer

Assemblymember Tim Grayson

Assemblymember Jim Frazier

County Auditor Bob Campbell

County Tax Collector Rusty Watts

East Bay Regional Parks Director Colin Coffey

Antioch Mayor Sean Wright

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts

Antioch Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock

Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson

Antioch Councilmember Lamar Thorpe

Hercules Vice Mayor Roland Esquivias

Hercules Councilwoman Chris Kelley

Hercules Former Mayor Myrna De Vera

Hercules Former Mayor Sherri McCoy

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder

Martinez Councilwoman Lara Delaney

Martinez Councilmember Mark Ross

Pinole Mayor Pete Murray

Pinole Vice Mayor Roy Swearingen

Pinole Councilmember Vincent Salimi

Pinole Councilmember Anthony Tave

Pittsburg Mayor Juan Benales

Pittsburg Councilwoman Merl Craft

Pittsburg Councilmember Holland White

Pittsburg Councilwoman Shanell Scales-Preston

Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Assn.

Contra Costa Professional Firefighters Local 1230

Contra Costa Deputy District Attorneys Assn.

Pittsburg Police Officers Association

Contra Costa Building & Constructions

Trades Council

IBEW

Boilermakers

Teamsters

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Supervisors ban vaping product sales, plan to approve cannabis retail, cultivation permits

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized CCTV on its 25th anniversary at the supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday. Accepting the resolution on behalf of CCTV was Susan Shiu, Contra Costa County director of communications and media. CCTV currently broadcasts six channels – CCTV, City Channel, Ed TV, Community Access, Hercules Community TV, and Delta TV. The Contra Costa Television network provides public, education and government access services for users in Contra Costa County, in the cities of Antioch, Clayton, Danville, Hercules, Martinez, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, and San Ramon. CCTV has adopted the slogan “Making Television Part of the Solution.” Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Recognize 25th anniversary of CCTV.

By Daniel Borsuk

A few hours after supervisors had unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sale of vaping products and prohibiting the delivery of cannabis vaping products in unincorporated Contra Costa County, the elected officials instructed Planning Department officials on Tuesday to prepare for supervisors’ potential approval of land use permits for commercial cannabis storefront retailers and cultivators at the supervisors’ upcoming December 10th meeting.

Supervisors adopted the county’s anti-vaping ordinance, after supervisors listening to 10 speakers advocate for the prohibition of the sale or delivery of tobacco vaping products, cannabis vaping products, and flavored tobacco products in 54 retail stores in unincorporated areas of the county. A week ago, more than 50 speakers called on supervisors to pass the proposed anti-vaping ordinance.

Prior to adoption of the new law banning the countywide sale of vaping products, the county prohibited the retail sale of vaping products to persons under 21 years old within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, playground, park or library. That law had affected about 45 retailers in unincorporated parts of the county.

More than 2,000 Americans, many of them teenagers and young adults, have become sick from using vaping products since March, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Some persons have died from using vaping products.

Supervisors set the stage to select candidates who will be invited to apply for either cannabis storefront retail and commercial cannabis cultivator land use permits from the Conservation & Development Department.

Supervisors learned a 10-member Cannabis Review Panel consisting of representatives from the county Administrator’s Office, Department of Agriculture, Contra Costa Fire Protection District, Health Services Department and Conservation & Development Department(CDD), had met 15 times to score and rank candidates seeking land use permits to start the regulatory process of legally operating in accordance with the County’s Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance that was approved by county voters on Nov. 6, 2018.

The county cannabis ordinance permits for the creation of four storefront cannabis retailers, 10 commercial cannabis cultivators and two commercial cannabis manufactures in agricultural zones.

CDD official Ruben Hernandez, said proposals for storefront retailers were received from Bay Point, 2; from Clyde, 1; Pacheco Boulevard, 10; El Sobrante, 7, and North Richmond, 1.

Eleven of the 19 commercial cannabis cultivator proposals were found to be ineligible because the subject properties are not within service area of a retail water supplier, a requirement set in the Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance.

A majority of the commercial cannabis cultivation proposals were located in the Eastern Contra Costa areas of Bethel Island, Kingston and Brentwood area. Three proposals were located in North Richmond.

“Since fewer proposals were received than the maximum number of commercial cultivation businesses to be permitted, the panel is recommending that all seven eligible proposals be invited to apply for land use permits,” a document from CDD Director John Kopchik stated.

During the public speaking portion, several persons protested that the cultivation operations nearby housing subdivisions will stimulate crime and/or health problems.

Knightsen resident Ann Richie said permitting cannabis cultivation operations nearby her residence will only increase crime. “We’ve had two incidents recently,” she said. “They were violent crimes. Please don’t let this happen.”

Patrice Kintral of Knightsen told supervisors that allowing a cannabis cultivation operation nearby her home will mean more health problems for her nine-year-old special needs daughter. “This proposal could mean she may expect to have more migraines,” Kintral said.

In the meantime, some Supervisors plan to study the proposed sites before the December 10, meeting.

Board Chair John Gioia plans to look at each site before the Board’s next meeting. “Some of these locations are better than others,” he said.

“We want to start slow on this,” said Vice Chair Candace Andersen. “We want to dot the i’s and cross the t’s because we have seen how other counties have made mistakes when they enacted cannabis laws.”

District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, who has five cannabis proposals in his district, and District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who has 10 cannabis proposals in her district (Pacheco Boulevard), both liked the community benefit proposals that bidders submitted. “You did a fabulous job,” Mitchoff said.

In other action, supervisors approved on consent the following:

  • Renewed a $322,927 a year contract with Baker & Taylor for book rental services for the Contra Costa County Library from Jan. 1, through Dec. 31, 2020. Baker & Taylor builds and maintains an economical method for maintaining an inventory of the most current, high demand hardcover titles.
  • Approved the $13 million Marsh Drive Bridge Replacement Project over the Walnut Creek Channel. Constructed in 1938, the existing bridge is structurally, seismically and hydraulically deficient and will be replaced with a new five-span bridge, pre-stressed concrete slab structure on concrete piles that is longer and wider than the existing bridge, at about 340 feet long and 55 feet wide. The bridge is currently 325 feet long and 34 feet wide.
  • Increased solid waste collection rates in the unincorporated West County areas covered by the Richmond Sanitary Service. The residential rate increase of 4.63 percent effective Jan. 1, 2020
  • The rate increase corresponds with a monthly raise of $1.17 in the most common (35-gallon cart) collection rate.
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Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors ratify proclamation of local emergency

Friday, November 1st, 2019

By Susan Shiu, Director, Contra Costa County Office of Communications and Media

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution at a special Board meeting today, November 1, 2019, ratifying the County Administrator’s October 27, 2019 proclamation of existence of a local emergency when the Board of Supervisors was not in session and could not immediately be called into session.

Contra Costa County issued a proclamation of local emergency due to severe weather conditions on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 4:37 pm when County Administrator David J. Twa, as the Administrator of Emergency Services, signed the proclamation.

The proclamation states that “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within the County, caused by a severe weather event commencing at 8 p.m. on October 26, 2019. The velocity and duration of wind, coupled with low humidity, is driving wildfires in multiple locations, causing power disruptions, tree falls and infrastructure damage, and necessitating evacuations; and that these conditions are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the County.”

Board Chair, Supervisor John Gioia, said, “The weather conditions were such that there were a series of fires one after another that led to evacuation orders in multiple parts of the County on that day alone. Throughout the local emergency, Con Fire and other fire district firefighters, Sheriff’s Office, County departments’ employees and other partners, including the National Weather Service, worked diligently to coordinate in the County’s Emergency Operation Center.”

The Supervisors all echoed this sentiment of pride in how the County worked together with multiple agencies and jurisdictions to keep residents safe and informed during an unprecedented local emergency affecting tens of thousands of Contra Costa residents.

“The County prepares for emergencies. Our teams did the work they were trained to do. We are grateful that there was no loss of human life,” says County Administrator David Twa. “We will continue to support residents and encourage you to stay prepared.”

To learn about and register for Contra Costa County’s Community Warning System, go to cwsalerts.com. Sign up to receive alerts, such as evacuation alerts, via voice, text and email. Follow @CoCoCWS, @CCCounty and other official sources on Twitter.

For safety and preparedness resources, go to https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/5435/Public-Safety-Emergency-Info.

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Supervisors form committee to consider half-cent sales tax measure for Nov. 2020 ballot

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized the community service of CERT C-8 on Tuesday. Currently consisting of 70 members, supervisors recognized the organization that is known to dispatch volunteers to train senior care staff, serve as Amateur Radio Operators, Red Cross Shelter workers, traffic control and join the Contra Costa CART. C-8 has helped to get Spanish Cert out to many areas of the county. The program is called Listos. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Demand NuStar Energy safety probe before Crockett plant is reopened following fire

By Daniel Borsuk

At their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, Contra Costa County Supervisors voted 4-0 to create an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of placing on the ballot a sales tax measure. The committee will consist mainly of union leaders, county agency heads and nonprofit organizations leaders.

On the vote, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover was absent.

At the recommendation of District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who serves on the Finance Committee, proposed the establishment of a citizen-based ad hoc committee to study a proposal that could wind up on a ballot for county voters to decide on perhaps by the November 2020 general election.

In California, the maximum sales, use, and transactions tax rate is 9.25 percent. That includes a statewide base sale and use tax of 7.25 percent and up to 2 percent for local district transaction and use taxes.

Current projections for annual revenues for a countywide transaction and use tax are one half cent $93 million and quarter cent $46.5 million. Current projections for annual revenues for an unincorporated area transaction and use tax are one half cent: $8.32 million and one.

So far, the ad hoc committee will study several potential tax scenarios. Current projections for annual revenues for a countywide transaction and use tax area:

. 0.50 percent (1/2 cent): $93 million

. 0.25 percent (1/4 cent): $46.5 million

Projections for annual revenues for an unincorporated area transaction and use tax are:

. 0.50 percent (1/2 cent): $8.32 million

. 0.25 percent (1/4 cent): $4.16 million

Mitchoff said she is promoting the sales tax ad hoc committee because she frequently hears from constituents why Contra Costa County does not have a sales tax while other counties like Alameda, San San Mateo, Santa Clara and others do draw additional revenues for county services from a sales tax.

The ad hoc committee will be led by stake holders, not supervisors, Mitchoff said. “We want all comers at the table,” she said. “This will be a difficult lift.”

“This is a huge opportunity,” said Sean Casey, executive director of the nonprofit organization First 5. “16,000 families could benefit from this in Contra Costa County.”

Demand NuStar Energy Plant Safety Probe

Also during their meeting, the Supervisors demanded that county officials confirm that operators of the fire damaged NuStar Energy plant in Crockett not resume operations until its fire and hazardous materials safety measures have been completely reviewed and upgraded by state and federal authorities.

“I want updated progress reports on your investigations,” demanded Board Chair John Gioia, whose District 1 covers the Crockett refinery location where the fire erupted from a tank filled with ethanol at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. The fire spread, catching a nearby tank also containing ethanol. Some 250,000 gallons of ethanol were destroyed in the fire.

The blaze forced county authorities to call a Shelter in Place in the Crockett area. Interstate 80 was closed for six hours. The incident was officially over at 8:10 p.m. when I-80 was reopened to traffic by the Highway Patrol, said Contra Costa County Director of Hazardous Materials Randy Sawyer.

“At the end of the day, the incident was contained, “said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Lewis Broschard. “No other tanks were destroyed. No other materials were discharged.”

Broschard told supervisors it was through the fire fighting resources of NuStar Energy and several other refineries that were able to promptly respond to the fire site to assist CCCFPD in extinguishing fire. Those refineries – Shell, Chevon, Phillips 66, Tessoro, and Marathon – supplied foam that the county fire district did not have to adequately extinguish the blaze, said Chief Broschard.

Chief Broschard said at this time there is no known cause for the fire including whether arson may have been a factor.

Gioia made it clear to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Broschard and Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program Director Randy Sawyer that he wants a thorough investigation completed before “there is a reopening” of the NuStar plant.

Supervisors heard from eight speakers, all critical of NuStar and its safety track record.

NuStar spokesperson Mary Rose Brown told the Contra Costa Herald via an emailed message:

“We absolutely agree, and we are working closely and cooperatively with CalOSHA and other regulatory agencies on detailed plans to ensure that the facility is safe to operate before it is reopened. We also are continuing to work in very close cooperation with all applicable local and state regulatory agencies to investigate the root cause of the incident so that we can take whatever measures are required to ensure the continued safety of our employees, contractors, neighbors and the community. We worked over the weekend to pump liquids out of the incident area and CalOSHA and local fire investigators accessed the area today (Tuesday).”

County resident Carl Davidson suggested that the NuStar plant incident may have been triggered by a seismic event since the facility is located on the Pinole fault and the fire erupted after seismic events were reported in the Pleasant Hill area the previous day.

Twenty-five-year Crockett area resident Isabella Izzi said the board of supervisors and regulators should clamp down on NuStar for this environmental violation and future violations by requiring the refiner to provide hazmat masks to all residents of Crockett. “The Board of Supervisors should make it clear that it will deny any new expansion at that refinery,” she said.

Dan Torres, a representative of an industrial fire sprinkler installation union, questioned the quality and reliability of the fire sprinkler system installed at NuStar.

At the end, Chair Gioia asked that updates on the NuStar fire will be reported at the Public Safety Committee that he chairs.

In other business, the supervisors:

-Approved a $240,000 contract to Concord Yellow Cab, Inc. to provide non-emergency taxicab transportation services for Contra Costa Regional Medical center and Contra Costa Health Center patients for the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The county pays taxicab service for patients unable to transport themselves to medical appointments due to medical conditions, including physical disabilities, patients who have verifiable seizure disorder or patients who have received medications which has or could impair their mobility.

-Approved a $1.97 million Public Works Department contract with Debri-Tech, Inc. to provide on-call assistance with trash and abandoned waste cleanup and removal for the Contra Costa County Watershed Program for the program October 15, 2019 through September 30, 2022.

-Approved the issuance of $85 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bond by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority for the Fairfield Hilltop LP, a California limited partnership, to provide for the financing of the acquisition and rehabilitation of a 322-unit multi-family housing development known as Hilltop Commons Apartments located at 15690l Crestwood Dr.

 

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