Archive for December, 2019

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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D.A. to dismiss three cases from Conviction Integrity Unit review of former Antioch Police Officer

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

“Records detailed (Officer Santiago) Castillo’s involvement in sharing confidential police information with an informant, improper handling of evidence and showing dishonesty during the internal affairs investigation.”

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Today, Thursday, December 19, 2019, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced three cases will be dismissed as a result of a review done by the Conviction Integrity Unit involving former Antioch Police Officer Santiago Castillo. In the interest of justice, two cases will be dismissed outright, and one case will have one count dismissed. Formal proceedings will be conducted on the record with the Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Officer Castillo’s subsequent conduct raises questions about the integrity of the underlying convictions in the three cases that will be dismissed. Records were released earlier this year by the Antioch Police Department concerning Castillo’s tenure with the agency, which prompted the Conviction Integrity Unit review. The records detailed Castillo’s involvement in sharing confidential police information with an informant, improper handling of evidence and showing dishonesty during the internal affairs investigation.

The dismissed cases and counts include the following:

  • Demetrius Sells, Docket 04-145620-1 (felony resisting an arrest by a peace officer)
  • Joseph O’Neal, Docket 04-187933-7 (misdemeanor reckless driving, driving on suspended license)
  • James McCullar, Docket 04-186384-4 (one count will be dismissed, misdemeanor reckless driving)

If a member of the public believes they have information regarding a prior conviction involving Castillo they may contact the unit and complete an application on our website:

The Conviction Integrity Unit was created by District Attorney Diana Becton.

“I created the first ever standalone Conviction Integrity Unit for this Office as the public needs to have faith in our criminal justice system” stated Becton. “A prior conviction with any impropriety causes a great disservice to our system. We will continue to review prior cases and conduct investigations as appropriate.”

Our Office notified Police Chief Tammany Brooks of the results of the review and Public Defender Robin Lipetzky.

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Suspect in May shooting murder in Antioch park arrested Wednesday

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

By Sergeant James Stenger #3604, Antioch Police, Violent Crimes Unit (Investigations Bureau)

On December 18, 2019, a 23-year-old male was taken into custody regarding the shooting murder of one man and injuring another on May 21, 2019. (See related article) The Antioch Police Investigations Bureau has been diligently working on this case which lead to the arrest of the suspect. It was determined that the suspect and victims met at Memorial Park, at 1 Spartan Way at Putnam Street in Antioch, to conduct an illegal gun transaction. During the gun deal a shooting occurred, resulting in the death of 19-year-old Donovan Heard and injuring an 18-year-old male. The suspect was interviewed and later booked into the County Jail in Martinez regarding this case.

The Antioch Police Department is not releasing the names of the suspect or the injured male at this time.

This information is made available by the Investigations Bureau. Anyone with information regarding this case can contact Detective Bledsoe at (925) 779-6884. Any further information or additional press releases will be provided by the Investigations Bureau. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Tickets still available for NYE comedy show at Lone Tree Golf & Event Center

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

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BART fares to increase January 1

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

A 5.4% inflation-based fare increase will take effect on January 1, 2020 as part of a program first approved by the BART Board in 2003 and renewed for a second series in 2013.

For a short trip like Downtown Berkeley to 19th St./Oakland, the Clipper fare will increase by 10 cents, and a longer trip like Antioch to Montgomery will increase by 40 cents.

View the new fare chart. The Trip Planner and Fare Calculator will be updated with these new fares before December 13, 2019. The fare charts at stations will be swapped out just prior to January 1.

Paper ticket fares will continue to have a 50 cent per trip surcharge. Riders are encouraged to use Clipper and save.

All new revenue from this fare increase goes to BART’s highest priority capital needs including new rail cars, a new train control system to provide more frequent service and an expanded maintenance facility.

According to a KRON4 news report, “For example, if you go from Lafayette and get off at the Embarcadero station, a one-way ticket will cost you $5.30.

From Antioch to Embarcadero, that ticket will cost you $7.90.

Another example – south Fremont to Embarcadero is $7.10.

Dublin to the same station will be $6.60.”

Fare Increase is Based on Inflation

To help fund the BART system’s extensive capital needs, BART has an inflation-based fare increase program adopted by the Board of Directors that raises fares every other year at a rate .5% less than inflation for the previous 2-year period.

It is important fares keep up with inflation because BART is not heavily subsidized by the government and we rely on fares for two-thirds of our operating budget.   We are working very hard to improve the rider experience with stepped up cleaning efforts, additional police presence to keep you safe, and new solutions to address the Bay Area’s homeless crisis and the impact on our system.

This is the last of four biennial fare increases called for under the 2013 series. The BART Board has approved a third series of inflation-based fare increases that will go into effect in 2022, 2024 and 2026.  This latest series will follow the same inflation-based formula as the previous increases.

Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot

BART will participate in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot Program expected to begin in early 2020. The program will offer a 20% discount per trip to adult riders earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level.

Get Clipper

Clipper has many advantages over paper tickets:

BART is working to move toward a Clipper-only fare payment system because the region has prioritized the use of Clipper as the Bay Area’s all-in-one transit card administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Clipper has many advantages over paper tickets:

  • Clipper saves money. Adult paper tickets have a 50 cents surcharge on every trip, which equals $1.00 per round trip. With a one-time acquisition fee of $3.00 for a Clipper card, it pays for itself in just 3 roundtrips.
  • In addition to the 50-cent per trip savings on BART, customers who use Clipper also pay less on Muni, Golden Gate Transit buses and ferries, San Francisco Bay Ferry, AC Transit and Caltrain.
  • Clipper is tourist-friendly as it offers discounts on various transit agencies while eliminating the need to purchase and carry multiple fare products from different agencies.
  • Clipper is reusable and long-lasting, unlike paper tickets that get worn and tattered.
  • Clipper is accepted by nearly all transit agencies in the region. Many other agencies offer discounted fares when using Clipper.
  • Riders can set up their Clipper card account to reload automatically so they won’t have to wait in line.
  • The loaded value on the Clipper card is secure when it’s registered. If you lose the card, the balance can be replaced for a nominal fee.
  • Your Clipper card can be linked to your BART EZ Rider parking account for a fast and easy way to pay for BART parking. Once you have Clipper, go to and follow the instructions to link the card to our parking program and then simply tap your Clipper at parking validation machines.
  • The tag in and out system allows Clipper card users to move through fare gates faster.
  • Clipper cards can be purchased at every BART station and at many retail outlets throughout the region.
  • Paper tickets can jam our fare gates, so Clipper usage means more open fare gates, shorter lines and less fare gate maintenance.
  • Clipper usage reduces the paper waste of the magstripe tickets in the BART system.


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Walk Thru Bethlehem at Antioch Wesleyan Church Dec. 21 & 22

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Antioch Wesleyan Church invites you to this lively, 20-minute interactive biblical era drama and marketplace with crafts food and music. Travel back in time led by shepherds in search of the newborn Messiah. If you haven’t ever seen it, this is the year! All are welcome. Invite your friends and family to this Christmas tradition. Drop in anytime between 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22 at 2800 Sunset Lane, Antioch.

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With donation of a bag of dog or cat food Kids Eat Free Christmas Eve at Samurai

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

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Order your Christmas Dinner To Go from Lone Tree Golf & Event Center by Dec. 21st

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

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